Forty representatives of schools from Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova gathered during the autumn holidays for a dialogue forum on ‘Rural school, school garden and village in the era of globalization’, organised by EU4Youth.
During three days – from 4-6 November – participants discussed the challenges faced by rural areas in the post-Soviet space, identified relevant and effective areas of education for rural youth in this situation, and summed up the results of the contest on ‘School gardens as an educational platform for modern safe agricultural technologies’.
The meeting was addressed by Andriy Pavlovich, head of the EU4Youth support team, who outlined the general objectives of the EU4Youth programme, and by Vladimir Shevtsov, head of the EU4Youth grant project ‘School Garden for the Development of Agricultural Entrepreneurship’, which organised the forum.
The forum included group discussions around the following issues:
- what the village can offer to the city and how it can attract citizens;
- what professions, types of work and services should be developed today in the village;
- what a school garden can give to teachers and students.
Among the many ideas to emerge from the discussions was the importance of appealing to the interests of rural schoolchildren and young people themselves, showing them the experience of agro-ecotourism, organic farming, opportunities for promotion and marketing, introduction of IT, as well as interaction in the local community.
The second day of the forum saw representatives of 28 Belarusian schools share the results of work at their school gardens during the 2019 season as part of the contest among school gardens in Vitebsk, Gomel and Minsk regions. The jury evaluated the level of the development of the garden, but also the degree of involvement of the schoolchildren in the work.
Participants from all three countries left excited by the two days of discussions. “We have become not only a team, but a big and friendly family, where they will understand you, give you the necessary advice, guidance and support, and this is the most valuable gift of destiny for each of us,” said one of the forum participants, Alexander Pleshkunov.
Participating schools were encouraged to think not only about their development, but also about the options of interaction and joint implementation of their ideas in the field of agrotourism, handicraft, marketing and, of course, the involvement of young people and schoolchildren in this process.
‘EU4Youth: School Garden for Agricultural Entrepreneurship’ is a project funded by the European Union, which aims to foster the employability and active participation of young people residing in disadvantaged rural areas of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova in society and economy by developing modern labour, leader and entrepreneur skills, and promoting new professional opportunities among them.