TEACHER AND SCHOOL SUPPORT CONFRONTING SOCIAL INEQUALITIES: USING A DIGITAL PLATFORM
The financial crisis in Greece has a heavy impact on the socio-economic status of Greek society for the past four years. Such changes are shrinking incomes, increased taxes and unemployment which lead systematically to increasing poverty. The teachers’ role becomes especially important during periods of crisis when weaker social groups are affected. If teachers position their educational practice reflectively in a socio-cultural context, they de-normalise the educational process and bring to the surface moral and political issues. Such issues are the equal confrontation of all pupils, the provision of equal opportunities and the establishment of a rightful human society as ways to diminish inequities and injustice in schools. Teachers’ difficulties to handle social differences are due to the lack of tools that would assist them to discern social obstacles and their true nature. The school environment can be a valuable place for inequalities and adversities to be early detected, and interventions and practices to be developed and implemented at an early stage, fostering the resilience and wellbeing of children at risk. We focus on early childhood education (4-8 years old) as it has been proven the best age group to intervene since it is most effective to counterbalance social and financial inequalities that children face, as they are early detected.
In this context we present partial results from the research project “Teacher support Confronting Social Inequalities” (TOCSIN), which is funded by funded by European Economic Area Grants (eea) and operated by General Secretary of Research and Technology (GSRT. These results refer to the effects of the ever increasing financial crisis on vulnerable population as reflected in public schools of preschool and first grades of elementary school education. In our presentation we focus in our effort to design and develop a digital platform as a support system for teachers and schools. The platform integrates educational and other supporting material, communication and networking tools, scenaria and best practices, as well as information linking the educational framework with the wider community. The design was based on results from the project survey and semi-structured interviews, so that a functional, usable, sustainable, and effective platform, focusing on the needs and requirements of the target audience, can be developed. We believe that the establishment of such an educational platform, open to all interested audience and especially to the educational community, can provide targeted information, leverage knowledge, support the emergence of a focused community of practice, and forward ways to respond to current social and financial inequalities experienced in Greece. We, therefore, present the axes of this platform, the ways we tried to establish it and address the results of our research and also the functionalities and the possibilities that the platform could offer to teachers in relevant critical situations. Moreover, we present some examples indicating the ways that the use of this platform could not only support teachers and schools who seek assistance in their difficult endeavors but also enrich the curricula of the student teachers’ studies in the Universities.