INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATION IN CRISIS SITUATIONS: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE OR AN OBSTACLE TO SUSTAINABILITY?
Developing an educational system poses an enormous challenge in countries where development is concentrated foremost on the generation of economic activity and subject to continual political change. At the same time, the future of any country undergoing a major societal and political transformation lies first and foremost within education. Under such circumstances, the question arises as to what extent sustainability can be kept in focus and innovative educational concepts persist (Altmann 2005). In international educational development work, crisis situations increasingly pose a particular challenge and must be considered as a discrete element during the planning phase. Yet risk analyses to date mostly do not cover political unrest, refugee crises or economic crises.
The following paper exemplifies how education projects can be adapted to a crisis situation, integrate changes during the implementation phase and not lose sight of sustainable integration and quality of educational concepts. A concrete example serves to illustrate this. The investigations within this paper include questionnaires conducted by experts in the field of education and international cooperative development work which illustrate the problems and possible strategies for implementing educational projects in a sustainable way despite the crisis situation.
The DOCCU project in Ukraine (Development of Citizenship Competences in Ukraine) responds to the theme of democracy (Council of Europe 2010). The training approach is based on a cascade-like model by which multipliers are trained. The combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experiences is thereby an essential element in terms of reflective practice on the level of the classroom, school management and civil service. A key element is the transfer of acquired knowledge to the daily working life for all target groups. Participants become capable of applying the elements of a democratic culture to everyday problems. They serve as role models and pass on these elements within their immediate surroundings. A research study accompanying the project to assess its effects focuses on various facets of measuring competences (Rost 2005). Four categories were assessed in a pre-post-test setup: knowledge/competence; attitudes/mindsets; experience/practice and perceived barriers. Preliminary results demonstrate an increase of knowledge and competences after the seminars, whereas attitudes and experiences cannot yet be interpreted after the first series of trainings.
The project was accompanied from its inception by protests in Ukraine (Gollob 2016). In this process we learned that a precarious crisis situation very much threatens the sustainability of educational work. On the other hand, due to the strong desire for societal change, such a situation also holds the potential to unleash forces for the concrete realisation of innovative educational programmes. The intrinsic motivation of participants and the practical application of the educational contents can trigger a sustainable realisation of the project aims.
In conclusion, a process of change towards a culture of democracy requires the time and courage of members of the society as well as the constant combination of knowledge-based trainings and reflection of practices. The presentation highlights the small steps that contribute towards transforming state institutions into contexts where peaceful developments can unfold and sustainable change can take hold.