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. At the end of the first week the pupils meet each 'onscreen'. The actual meeting takes place at the beginning of the second week. The first half-day, half of the pupils are exchanged to another neighbourhood, whereas the other half hosts in their own neighbourhood. The second half-day tables are turned and during the exchange, pupils carry out explorations and games in the neighbourhood. The programme finishes with a competition, comparing groups for who has best gotten to know the pupils of the other school. A keys to the success of the programme is the use of Cooperative Learning in the activities. This methodology offers to translate the contact hypothesis in educational setting into positive experiences.
Honors & Awards
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). On the national level, the programme was recognized as well. It was accepted as a successful local pioneer in the growth programme (Groeiprogramma) for social entrepreneurs of the Oranje Fonds, which is under the auspices of the Dutch King and Queen.