Partnership proves a winning strategy for Green Skills Award winners

A partnership forged via Europe’s largest education network - - eTwinning - took schools in Croatia, Armenia and Turkey over the winning line in ETF’s Green Skills Awards 2022.

The one-year Green Changemakers project, led by schools in Croatia with partners in Turkey and Armenia, aimed to develop awareness of sustainable development concentrated on 17 goals designed to improve knowledge and skills to adopt “green” lifestyles.

The focus included:

  • No poverty, zero hunger and good health and well-being
  • Quality education, gender quality, and good sanitation
  • Decent work, responsible consumption, and affordable, and clean energy

There were also broader, global topics such as climate action, peace justice and strong institutions, and partnerships for goals.

Project leader Sanja Pavlovic Sijanovic, a computer science teacher at Vukovar High School, Croatia, said that 12 teachers and 81 students at both primary and secondary schools across the three countries had worked together to design and implement projects that addressed “the needs of modern times on a global and local level.”

Reflecting on the success of the project, Sanja said the decision to find partners through the eTwinning project was driven by the opportunities if offered.

“Students rarely have the opportunity to work in groups, especially when this work takes a long time and involves carrying out a variety of activities,” she observes.

“Most pupils have never worked in groups in formed by students from different schools and countries, which is a great experience, enabling students from different type of schools to meet each other and create lasting acquaintances.”

Finding partners in Turkey and Armenia was more a matter of self-selection, she adds: both schools put themselves forward and met the challenges the Croatian schools had submitted on the eTwinning platform.

“Before selecting partners, we designed and put up a roadmap of activities, including raising awareness of eTwinning, designing and selecting the project’s logo, learning about media literacy, studying, familiarising and presenting the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs),” Sanja notes.

Many schools expressed interest – including from Slovenia, Greece and Spain, but it was the “past experiences and express interest” that drew the Croatian schools to cooperate with Yunus Emre Andolia school from Bingol, Turkey and Karmirgyugh N1 Secondary school, Karmirgyugh, Armenia.

The project, which included Croatian schools, Vukovar Gymnasium, the Technical School Karlovac, and Zagreb’s Mechanical Engineering School in Croatia logged daily and weekly activities that included introducing SDGs into the school curricula in all three countries, and “implementing practical activities that encouraged students to be responsible in the use of natural resources, energy, locally produced food, rational treatment of waste and community cooperation” and other areas.

“The students presented their worksheets in online video meetings, e-books produced and smart and green technologies created.”

Students in Croatia built a LEGO robotic arm, in Vukovar a model water tower was constructed and smart agricultural project were among the 40 schemes developed during the project.

Turkish teacher Hülya Buyankara said a key motivation for joining the Green Changemakers project was the opportunities it offered in “generating creative and innovative ideas from different countries in line with sustainable development goals.”

She added: “We encouraged our students to work in mixed country teams and they formed friendships. Since we were in different countries, we communicated in English and our foreign language skills improved.”

Hasmik Umrshatyan from Armenia commented: “The project gave me and my students the opportunity to study how to innovatively design and implement sustainable development education programmes through capacity building and active participation of students. It also strengthened the schools and cooperation with local communities in raising awareness of sustainable development.”

For others considering entering the ETF Green Skills award in the future, Sanja has some words of advice.

“Invest a lot of effort in planning and designing activities, find partners who share the same interests, desires, and enthusiasm with you and enjoy every progress,” she emphasises.

“By joint design and development of topics, ideas, and activities, we created a project through which we integrated connectivity, action, and well-being into a whole suitable for successful and applicable learning and teaching about sustainable development in the 21st century.”

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Partnership proves a winning strategy for Green Skills Award winners