A year has passed since the Comenius project JUNIOR INVENTORS finished.
It was a project coordinated by Scoala cu clasele I-VIII "Vasile Alecsandri" (former School nr. 5) from Baia Mare, Romania.
Looking back, we remember all the nice people we met, all the nice activities we took part in, all the friends we made during the project.
All the activities showed us how similar children are, no matter their nationality, ethnic group, religion, language, social status, etc. They all like to play with their friends, they all like to be valued by their peers.
I have noticed that some of the impact I expected when writing the project can be seen today: the pupils who were involved in this project, Romanian or Rroma, from the Romanian school, have improved their self-esteem and have learned to accept those around them without discrimination. Take for example our dancers, both Romanian and Rroma, who presented beautiful traditional or modern dances in the artistic shows during the project meetings, became famous in school and respected and admired by all the pupils. Our sports teams are appreciated by all the pupils in school. Thus, in the special sports classes the groups of pupils are mixed (both Romanian and Rroma)and they enjoy learning and doing sports and playing together.
As a result of the dissemination activities and the many prizes our pupils won within this project, but also in other school and sports competitions and contests, the school has a new and improved image in the local community. Parents appreciate our program of intercultural activities and plan of desegregation and integration of all children attending our school, irrespective of their ethnic group. They have begun to accept the fact that the classes are mixed, that Romanian children learn together with Rroma children, that they are not discriminated even if some of them have special educational needs.
Many teachers from other schools have started to change their opinion about our school, considering the many prizes that the pupils from School "Vasile Alecsandri" won in the many competitions and contests they participate each year, and the fact that, when they graduate the 8th grade here, many of them go the best high-schools in the city.
"Junior inventors" was very appreciated in Romania, and it won a few prizes in the national competition called "Made for Europe", organized by the Romanian Ministry of Education: in 2007, the toys made by our pupils won the 3rd prize in the regional contest, in 2008 the "Book of games and toys" won the 1st prize at regional level and 4th prize at national level.
The Comenius multilateral project "Junior inventors" was also one of the many projects and partnerships that won us the title of EUROPEAN SCHOOL at national level, which is a very important prize in Romania.
I am sure that the project had a very good impact on our partners' schools, too.
In 2007, near the end of the first year in the project, we started an experiment resulted from the project: we organized two international art exhibitions for children: one on the 8th of April, the International Day of the Rroma people, and one on the 1st of June, The International Children's Day according to UNESCO, and a national (which later became international, too) art exhibition for Easter. They have been so successful, that in 2009 we had our 3rd edition of all the three exhibitions. ( http://juniorarts.blogspot.com)
JUNIOR INVENTORS was just the beginning of our school involvement in international partnerships.
Last school year (2008-2009), we were involved in a LLP project called "Primalingua - we speak European" (http://www.primalingua.info/Home.749+B6Jkw9MQ__.0.html) and we applied for another Comenius multilateral project "Folklore Unites Nations", written by our school, which was approved for financing in the partner countries, but, unfortunately, our school was on the reserve list.
For next year we plan to apply for a new intercultural project and hope it will be approved and financed.
We have also been involved in some Phare projects for the integration of the Rroma children in school, in the last few years, and at present we are involved in a project funded from Structural funds, as partners with Romani CRISS and other NGOs and the Romanian Ministry of Education, called "Strategic steps for the improvement of the access to education of the Rroma children", which is part of the intercultural education plan of our school for the school year 2009-2010, as well as our international art exhibitions for Christmas, Easter, 8th of April and 1st of June.
All these started with JUNIOR INVENTORS, and School "Vasile Alecsandri" from Baia Mare will get involved in other European projects from now on, too.