Welcome to my Neighbourhood is an exchange programme for elementary schools in which pupils of different social/ethnic backgrounds meet to increase diversity competences.
In the Netherlands and many other diverse societies, children grow up in segregated neigbourhoods due to socio-economic and ethnic segregation. Children live in the same city or region, but in different worlds. It is therefore not self-evident to get into contact with children of different backgrounds, and develop the necessary social skills for intercultural citizenship. The project acts on this by enabling children to have positive experiences with peers from other environments. This means – on an individual level – that children are able to develop competencies necessary for dealing with diversity. On societal level this can be expected to have a positive effect on social cohesion.
Schools are matched on basis of the schools’ neighbourhoods and pupil populations. Combinations of schools are sought with pupils who differ in social and ethnic backgrounds. The programme’s duration is four weeks (three half-days in the first week, and a half day per three a weeks). The first week takes place at school. Children are prepared for the exchange and are stimulated to reflect on who they are themselves, on the kind of school they are attending and on the kind of neighbourhood they live in. During the next three weeks there are three exchangedays in which pupils discover more about each other and their neighbourhoods. A keys to the success of the programme is the use of Cooperative Learning in the activities.
Welcome to my Neighbourhood was in 2009 accepted for inclusion in the Compendium of Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia and North America: A Compendium of Good Practice.
The compendium is published by the Human Rights Education Associates (HREA), the Office for Democratic Institutions and the Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the Council of Europe and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Within the Netherlands the program has been awarded for being a successful local pioneer of the Oranje Fonds, which is under the auspices of the Dutch King and Queen.