Civil Society Organisations as drivers of changePublished: Jul 13, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
People in Need (PIN)—with financial assistance from the European Union— has implemented the project “Civil Society Actors as Drivers of Change in South Caucasus and Moldova”. This project intends to support newly established civil society organisations, grassroots groups, civic initiatives, and social and cultural movements in their role as trusted actors in the advancing of democratic processes.
This project aids local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with their capacity for human rights development and advocacy in local contexts; the project provides them with an opportunity for growth through training, funding for strategic development, and running campaigns to promote systemic changes and practical application activities․ Fourteen participant CSOs in Armenia have tackled various topics of vital importance. For example, NorArar Education and Initiative for Educational, Social and Legal Inclusion carried out campaigns to ensure that education is accessible for all and every child in particular.
One of the milestones of accessible education is literacy. It is at the core of NorArar Education’s project. Literacy is more than the ability to fluently read, understand and write short statements. To a large extent, it affects the development of key skills, such as analysis, critical examination of information, and making of informed conclusions. According to Mher Davtyan, President of Norarar Education “nearly 35% of pupils graduating from elementary schools do not understand simple texts as they lack reading skills''. The situation is worse for displaced pupils from Nagorno-Karabakh as their learning process has been disrupted and thus pupils tend to be disengaged.
To redress this issue, NoraArar has initiated a campaign by developing two resources with up-to-date methodologies for enhancing reading skills. Twenty-two teachers from fourteen schools joined the campaign under the framework of the project. Teachers were taught specially to teach students how to read. After conducting a small baseline survey on reading speed and proficiency—before and after the campaign—it became obvious that the pupils started to read more fluently. Furthermore, they became more motivated, self-confident and engaged during the learning process as it was fun to practice reading skills with classmates. NorArar aims to repeat the training cycle and to include more schools and teachers.
In addition to reading, inclusive education is another topic of vital importance. All children have the right to high-quality education. With this in mind, the Initiative for Educational, Social, and Legal Inclusion has undertaken a campaign to influence contemporary ways of inclusive education in Armenia. This work is undertaken through piloting and publishing adapted educational materials, a methodological guideline on their use designed by Republican Pedagogical-Psychological Center, and their introduction into the Armenian state’s unified inclusive educational system. With help from the EU, they cooperated with eleven schools in Yerevan and in the regions of Lori and Armavir. Fifty-five children have had an opportunity to use adapted workbooks for developing their mindset, imagination, and their motor skills. “The accessibility of E-versions of workbooks and methodology was ensured and they are currently available on the official page of the Republican Pedagogical-Psychological Centre of RA”, says Syuzanna Petrosyan, Co-founder and CEO of the Initiative for Educational, Social and Legal Inclusion. This kind of project enables children to feel encouraged and become fully integrated into society.
Within the framework of the EU-funded “Civil Society Actors as Drivers of Change in South Caucasus and Moldova” regional project, PIN hosted a three-day so called “Unconference” networking event with the participation of fourteen beneficiary CSOs, and other sectoral experts in Aghveran, Armenia to help civil society actors to partner, generate new ideas and think about future joint initiatives. The “Unconference” aimed to create an informal networking platform for project participants. As an outcome, 18 collaborations were formed among the participant CSOs.