Social inclusion and social justice

Carmel Cefai (Department of Psychology, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)
Valeria Cavioni (Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences - Psychology Section, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy)
Paul Bartolo (Department of Psychology, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)
Celeste Simoes (Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Renata Miljevic-Ridicki (Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia)
Dejana Bouilet (Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia)
Tea Pavin Ivanec (Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia)
Anatassios Matsopoulos (Preschool Education Department, University of Crete, Rethymno, Greece)
Mariza Gavogiannaki (Preschool Education Department, University of Crete, Rethymno, Greece)
Maria Assunta Zanetti (Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences - Psychology Section, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy)
Katya Galea (Centre for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)
Paola Lebre (Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Birgitta Kimber (Department of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden)
Charli Eriksson (Department of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Publication date: 10 August 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present the development of a resilience curriculum in early years and primary schools to enhance social inclusion, equity and social justice amongst European communities, particularly amongst disadvantaged and vulnerable ones, through quality education. It defines educational resilience in terms of academic, social and emotional growth in the face of life challenges; discusses the conceptual framework and key principles underpinning the curriculum; and presents the six major content areas of the curriculum. Finally, it presents the preliminary findings of a pilot project on the implementation of the curriculum in more than 200 classrooms in about 80 early and primary schools in six European countries.

Design/methodology/approach

The curriculum was first drafted collaboratively amongst the six partners on the basis of the existing literature in the promotion of resilience in early years and primary schools, with a particular focus to European realities. Once it was internally reviewed, it was piloted in 200 early years and primary school classrooms in six European countries, with each of the six partners implementing one theme. Data collection included teacher reflective diaries, classroom checklists, semi-structured interviews with teachers and focus groups with students.

Findings

The preliminary results from the pilot evaluation of the curriculum in 199 classrooms totalling 1,935 students across six countries indicate that both the teachers and the learners overwhelmingly found the curriculum highly enjoyable, useful, relevant and easy to use. They looked forward to the possibility of having the programme on a full-time basis as part of the general curriculum in the future. The teachers reported a positive moderate change in learners’ behaviour related to the theme implemented and argued that for the implementation to be effective, it needs to take place throughout the whole year. A number of modifications have been on the basis of the teachers’ and learners’ feedback.

Originality/value

This is the first resilience curriculum for early years and primary schools in Europe. While it seeks to address the needs of vulnerable children such as Roma children, immigrant and refugee children and children with individual educational needs, it does so within an assets-based, developmental, inclusive and culturally responsive approach, thus avoiding potential labelling and stigmatising, while promoting positive development and growth. It puts the onus on the classroom teacher, in collaboration with parents and other stakeholders, in implementing the curriculum in the classroom.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The project on which this paper is based, RESCUR, is funded by the European Union LLP Comenius Programme, together with the six universities taking part in the project, namely, the University of Malta, Malta; University of Zagreb, Croatia; University of Crete, Greece; University of Pavia, Italy; University of Lisbon, Portugal; and Orebro University, Sweden. Thanks also to Dr Antonija Balić-Šimrak from the University of Zagreb, who designed the two curriculum mascots (Figure 1).

Citation

Cefai, C., Cavioni, V., Bartolo, P., Simoes, C., Miljevic-Ridicki, R., Bouilet, D., Pavin Ivanec, T., Matsopoulos, A., Gavogiannaki, M., Zanetti, M., Galea, K., Lebre, P., Kimber, B. and Eriksson, C. (2015), "Social inclusion and social justice", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 122-139. https://doi.org/10.1108/JME-01-2015-0002

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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