26 agosto 2008

PESTALOZZI Children’s Foundation

The Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation is a Swiss children’s charity, promoting peaceful cohabitation by strengthening the competencies and rights of children and adolescents.

Projects in Macedonia, Serbia and Romania
Within the projects of the Pestalozzi Children's Foundation in Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania, youth work and workshops offer adolescents the opportunity to acquire democratic behaviour, civil engagement, tolerance and cosmopolitanism and so lay the foundation for the development of peaceful coexistence.

Education helps overcome discrimination and promotes equal opportunities, particularly for disadvantaged groups in society such as minorities, people in rural areas, people without income, and, last but not least for children and young people. Nine countries in South Eastern and Central Europe support the “decade of Roma-integration”, the first coordinated programme to fight the marginalisation of the Roma people, Europe’s largest stateless minority. Education is one of its four main focal points.
The Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation supports comprehensive initiatives in Romania, Macedonia and Serbia that are aimed at integrating Roma children and adolescents into schools. In joint collaboration with local organisations and Roma organisations in selected cities and schools, the Foundation endeavours to develop a method for enrolling and supporting Roma children in schools.

Poverty, instable governments, and the lack of common values and objectives hinder the modernisation of society at all levels. Wide-spread unemployment, social inequality and an antiquated education system foster a level of resignation that is particularly dangerous among young people. Xenophobic aggression is a common phenomenon, and schools are not immune to this. The aim of all projects in South Eastern Europe is to overcome prejudice and marginalisation and to build a modern democratic society.
The Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Trogen hosts another type of exchange. Every year, 2000 children and adolescents from Eastern Europe as well as Switzerland stay at the Village. They have the opportunity to interact in a supervised framework with young people from cultures that were previously unknown to them, thereby allowing strangers to become friends.
The training course “emPower – Intercultural Leadership Programme for Young Adults” completes the range of educational projects of the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation. Young people from different countries are trained in intercultural education in the Children’s Village in Trogen.

Living together - Peaceful co-existence among adolescents
Adolescents from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds co-exist peacefully and are beginning to build a modern, democratic society together. The Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation supports activities in Serbia to tear down barriers.
Serbia is a country where life can be difficult for minorities, even though they make up approximately a quarter of the population. Hungarians, Albanians, Roma, members of around 20 other ethnic groups and refugees from neighbouring countries are constantly exposed to each other: at school, during sporting events and in their leisure time.
Children and adolescents in such an intolerant environment are the most amazing population group, particularly when they belong to an ethnic or religious minority. Yet, young people still manage to broaden their horizons. They are beginning to build a modern, democratic society and are actively supported by the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation.

Living together - Workshops for adolescents
In cooperation with the Child Rights Centre Belgrade and Panonija, the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation has developed a network of local partner organisations from across the country. Workshops give these young people the chance to get to know themselves and each other, and to learn from and with their peers. This enables the dismantling of cultural barriers.

Education for Roma children
In a third project the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation supports a comprehensive initiative to integrate Roma children and adolescents in schools. Starting primary school at the age of seven is not a given for Roma children in Serbia. The aim of this initiative is to enable Roma children to go to school and complete their compulsory education. Qualifications on leaving school will improve their chances to find work. In this regard, education becomes an integral aspect of fighting poverty.

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