Making school attractive again

During my job shadowing project in Spain I experienced a reality new to me, where students drop out of school because of lack of motivation or because of family and personal issues. In some institutes and vocational schools they face a significant students’ absence on a daily basis. For example, in another school teachers offered free workshops and courses about different topics in several occupational fields like a mechanics or cooking. Even if the education is simplified and totally free, they still are not so eager to participate. In one classroom only two or three students participated even if the total number of the name list was around twenty.

I realised that there’s quite a huge difference between regions and cities. Around Barcelona youngsters where quite optimist about their studies and satisfied with their options, but the situation was extremely different in places like poor neighbourhoods out of the metropolitan area where young people have to go to work instead of going to school. The poverty forces young people to go to work in markets or in the streets to earn extra money to support their family. In this case youngsters lose their motivation about studying and start to spend their time on the streets with hooligans groups. Mainly this problem touches gypsy and other immigrated communities.

The local government and city halls, together with youth organizations like Asociación Mundus, try to implement several programs to motivate and offer opportunities also to minorities. One of this program, funded by Santa Coloma’s City Council, is Calidoscopi (https://pcalidoscopi.wordpress.com) which collect recently drop out students to help them find the motivation to study and also to explore the reasons why they are living such a situation. During nine months under Calidoscopi program these youngsters have been involved in many practical activities and educational courses. For example I had the chance to participate in “Basket Beat” workshop. This activity is a combination of physical and intellectual practices. This way students learn to know each other and become ready to talk about their realities. After the activity with a basketball, they usually start to share their thoughts and feelings. In order to talk openly, they have to use the “iceberg method” to find out the deeper causes of early school leaving. I think these activities are combined very usefully, because results are very good for participants. Young people become more open to share their personal problems and are helped realize the reasons of their being dropped out. Moreover, this kind of methodology – which is based on non formal education – can truly work with students who have many obstacles or just less opportunities.

The project Calidoscopi is a remarkable example of good practice to support and inspire youth to continue their studies. They are running this program since years and the results are positive because students increase their willpower to study and become aware of the importance of education. For me it was important to see that non formal learning actually works in a moment when formal education is losing popularity among youngsters because it is a bit tedious and not very attractive. Young people prefer something more dynamic and creative to be inspired daily to study. I think in the future non formal education will become more appreciated by many institutes and schools willing to make school environment attractive again among students.

Kristjan, Estonia

Job shadowing in Spain