From 16 to 21th of June, in the town of Leiden, Netherlands was held the World conference of the International organization “Step by step” (ISSA). It was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the organization and more than 400 participants from 60 different countries participated – experts in the field of early child development. Some of them were Unicef, Open society, Central European University and more.
Silvia Stancheva represented Center Amalipe and participated in the conference as a trainer in the “Together in colourful world” program, as well as a secretary of the advisory board of the REYN Network in Bulgaria, coordinated by ISSA.
The theme of the conference was „Nurturing environment“ or what is the most appropriate and supporting development environment for the children. Famous personalities attended the conference – members of the royal court, mayors, proven in their field professors and others.
Good practices were shared, realized projects, reports and analyses from all around the world, that showed how the environment to be less hostile towards small children and how to be most favorable so their full potential could be developed. School programs with great flexibility for children and teachers were presented; the strong need for autonomy was emphasized on. It was emphasized on the importance of additional support for the children from vulnerable groups. The needs of the Roma children, the emigrant children, the children with disabilities and other educational needs were discussed.
There were workshops, visits in children centers and schools, special meetings and others.
The main accent of the conference was the persistence in the childcare, the trust between the professionals and the families and most importantly to never forget that the protagonists in the educational system are the children!
The final national conference of the Bulgarian-Swiss Development Program "Health and Education for All" (HEA) gathered hundreds of participants in the project - leaders, municipal officials, mediators, beneficiaries and guests in the Vitosha hotel on 25 June 2019. Representative of CIEDT "Amalipe" was Valeri Lekov - regional coordinator.
The efforts of the HEA program are targeted towards children and young families from vulnerable groups, living in poverty in closed communities in six Bulgarian cities – Plovdid, Ruse, Burgas, Montana, Sliven and Shumen. From Bulgarian side the main partner is the Ministry of labor and social policies, with the participation of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Science. The conference was opened by the minister of labor and social policies Bisser Petkov, the ambassador of Switzerland Muriel Berce Cohen and the deputy-minister of education and science Denitsa Satcheva. Minister Petkov pointed out that the implementation of the HEA program has improved the access to social, health and educational services of young Roma families, allowing 2500 children between 3 and 5 years of age to attend regularly kindergartens and preschool groups. More than 2100 children have returned to the classrooms and received additional lessons in Bulgarian. This has led to increase of literacy and increased their chance of better and quality life.
The deputy-minister of education and science Denitsa Satcheva also welcomed the participants – “The two key moments in this program, which had great impact for the policies, that the Minsitry of education and science is implementing now and in future. First, the integrated care and the necessity for integrated services for children in early young age. This applies not only for children from vulnerable groups, but for everyone. But it is extremely important for the children from vulnerable groups. The model, implemented by the Swiss program in some kindergartens in Bulgaria is extremely good and brings many positive results. This is a model in which together with the kindergarten, in proximity to it, are available social services and health office. There is a possibility for health prevention, work with the parents and the whole family. We are fighting second, even third generation illiteracy. If there is no support from the family no results should be achieved. The other key moment of the program is the implementation of the educational mediator profession, already legally existing and is added to the National Classifier of Occupations. And from the last year the Ministry of education funds the employment of educational mediators” – said she in the speech.
After the greetings the participants discussed the results and the lessons learned, evaluated and analyzed. The evaluator PhD. Ilona Tomova gave high evaluation of the project.
All participants in the conference shared the opinion that this is one successfully implemented project. On a question, directed to deputy-minister Sacheva what will happen to the activities after the end of the project, she answered: “The activities will continue to be funded by the dedicated budgets, especially from this work model, related to the educational mediators and the integrated services. It will continue to be implemented in the form of different projects, funded by the Operational Program “Science and education for smart growth” and form the operational Programme “Development of human resources” And with the new legislation – the Law for social services, will be searched ways for continuing the funding for integrated services. In the Ministry of science and education there are two projects at the moment – the first is Active inclusion, worth 82 mln. leva, dedicated to the kindergartens. In the project we can fund significant part of the models, implemented in the kindergartens. We could scale them, so they can be implemented in almost thousand kindergartens.”