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Are you SoJust?

Do we really live in a multicultural diversity and tolerant world? Are educational entities and staff prepared to deal with multicultural learners?

The present article aims to reveal and reflect about Social justice in lifelong guidance services for low-educated adult migrants, a KA2-Adult education – ERAMUS+ Project.

SoJUST project involves as partners six countries which are Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and Turkey. All of them are compromised to improve the quality and effectiveness of guidance addressed to migrant adults with low qualifications. By the way, the SoJust Project aims this general goal by adopting an intervention perspective based on social justice that works, at the individual level, on the increase of specific skills of educators and, at organizational level, on the promotion of contexts and practices social justice oriented.

There are many authors that refers that we need to apply social justice principles into guidance practice (Hooley et al., 2018; Sultana et al., 2017), and we cannot forget that social justice as to do with equality and equity, but, most of all with the complementarity between both.

It is about engaging educators and guidance counsellors to consider how the personal and professional socialization influences the guidance process and unintentionally perpetuate attitudes and actions that impact negatively on people belonging to minority groups. (Arthur et al., 2013; 2005a; Arredondo and Perez, 2003)

SoJust Project has as specific objectives to enhance understanding of social justice in lifelong guidance practice; develop common and mutually recognized framework for referencing the educator's competences focused on social justice in guidance; increase skills of adult educators to implement quality and more effective guidance practices in Upskilling Pathways (2016/C 484/01) and strength the targeted guidance aimed at reaching people who need special motivation (2016 / C 484/01) (reference of document about SoJust Project).

With reference to documents inherent to the Social Justice Project and according to the context of implementation of the SoJust, the main problem areas addressed by the project are: 1) Lack of a shared conceptual framework about social justice-focused guidance, which generates ambiguity and difficulties to in practice apply guidance practices focused on social justice (which needed knowledge? Which methods? which tools?); 2) insufficient implementation of actions for the continuous professional development and updating of adult educators aimed to enhance social justice competences; 3) Lack of guidance practices with a focus on social justice with negative impacts in terms of: A) achievement of guidance needs; B) recognition of prior learning C) supply of tailored training.

Our target group are educators and adult education staff who have guidance roles and the main beneficiaries are migrant adults with low qualifications with over sixteen years old, predicting the SoJust Project three intellectual outputs (IO) wich are:

  • IO1-EQF/Profile of competences of social justice-focused educator in guidance of migrant adults;
  • IO2- OER/Pilot Learning Curriculum for social justice focused guidance;
  • IO3- Handbook of guidance practices social justice-focused.

Regarding the IO1, it aims to define a guidance practioner profile (educator/ counsellor) specialized on social justice-based guidance practices. As contents it has competence sets in order to adopt the social justice approach in guidance activities (addressed to low-qualified migrant adults) and different levels of mastery of the competences and related evidences. However, we may not forget that profile needs to be designed and described according to the 4th level of the European Qualification Framework (knowledge/skills/competences according to 4th level EQF). The competence sets refer to a Macro (territorial level), Meso (guidance relationship) and Micro (individual level) domains.

IO2 will be developed on the basis of the competence sets identified in the profile (IO1) and contains a Learning program on social justice competences in guidance; Learning material (training materials and tools) and Guidelines developed after pilot test in order to give suggestions to other adult education organizations for introducing Pilot Curriculum into their continuing professional development policy.

Concerned IO3 it will be made a Handbook, result of Pilot test of IO2 and it consists of a models of guidance practices in context developed by SoJust Project. During pilot test specific Local Research-Action-Training Laboratories (LabRAF) will be carried out in order to detect and to provide documentary evidence of guidance practices social justice-oriented.

Currently, the tasks and activities related to IO1 have ended, namely:

  • Designing the profile by exploratory research aimed at educators/ guidance counselors; focus groups with migrants and territorial networks for lifelong learning; comparative analysis of international literature and data analysis and development of the competence profile and of skills progression standards/references.

In IO1, SoJust Project predict to answer questions such as What are the characteristics of the social justice-focused educator in the guidance of migrant adults?; What are the evidences that help to identify and evaluate the different thresholds of a social-justice focused guidance? and How do we ensure that the references identified are consistent with our peers at local and European level?

So, we assured a definition of a profile corresponding to the level 4 of the EQF that aims to provide a shared and transferable conceptual frame, despite the strong internal (into the countries) and external (among countries) inhomogeneities referable to: little attention to the initial training of the adult education staff, both formal and non-formal, therefore differences in skill levels; different educational and professional paths to become educators/ counselors in the adult education field. For this purpose, in the designing phase of the Profile we took into account different variables related to the training and professional background such as type of training (pedagogical or technical or social sciences/ psychology etc...) and roles in the organization (educators, social workers, etc…).

How do the different social justice focused educators differ according to their educational-professional background? This made it possible to outline, in addition to a common profile of competences, also some TYPES of social justice focused educator profile (and related set of competences) having been rigorously reflected and considered.

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