Thanks to the Together for Children programme, we have advanced inclusion in education and early childhood care

The Together for Childrenprogramme, in partnership with UNICEF, has been the largest grant programme of our foundation to date. In 2023, it supported 25 projects across Slovakia with a total sum exceeding 1,000,000 euros. Simultaneously, it reinforced inclusive approaches in working with children not only within supported organizations but also through various educational activities.
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The activities of supported organizations aimed to strengthen care and inclusive education for children in their early childhood (010 years), focusing on children who fled war in Ukraine and others from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Together for Children programme aimed to include these children in society and improve their access to education in Slovakia. We endeavored to ensure that supported projects were inclusive and addressed the individual needs of children, enabling them to reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

A key aspect of the programme was building partnerships among local governments, schools, non-profit organizations, experts, and other stakeholders in the field of inclusive education and early childhood care to introduce systemic and sustainable changes.

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Why did we decide to implement this programme?

In Slovakia, there are over 400,000 children aged 0 to 7, and not all of them have equal opportunities for quality education and care. This primarily concerns children with additional needs or those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The reasons include an imperfect system of inclusive education and care for children aged 0 to 3, insufficient capacity of preschools, their funding, and a lack of support for teachers. Similarly, early intervention services for children at risk are not universally available. Another issue is the weak interconnection between educational, health, and social institutions, with insufficient collaboration among them.

The programme also addressed the arrival of children from Ukraine in need of a safe environment and education after fleeing the war. We wanted all these children to have the opportunity to integrate into life here and overcome the trauma from the situation in their homeland.

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Whom did we support?

We supported schools, kindergartens, local governments, and organizations – altogether 92 organizations that implemented over 200 diverse activities and helped over 7,500 children and 5,000 adults.

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What did we achieve together?

The Together for Children programme helped open the hearts and minds of many people in Slovakia. It significantly contributed to building an inclusive environment that understands children with additional needs and can adequately respond to them in schools, local governments, various organizations, and communities across Slovakia.

We strengthened inclusive approaches in teaching and support for children at dozens of kindergartens and primary schools, ensuring that not only children who fled war in Ukraine but any children facing challenges receive the necessary assistance and can learn alongside their peers. Many children gained access to education through the programme, enabling them to progress and develop their potential. The mental health of thousands of children and their caregivers who fled war improved because they had the opportunity to deal with the traumas they experienced due to war and forced displacement from their country.

Children and families from Ukraine found friends among Slovaks, diverse communities interconnected and increased mutual understanding.

Several projects, as well as educational activities of the programme, positively influenced policymakers at the regional level and strengthened cooperation between public institutions and non-profit organizations working with children in early childhood. Systems and support services for early childhood development at the local level were improved.

And what is most important to us – supported organizations continue the work they started thanks to Together for Children. The change towards the inclusion of all children in our society that we initiated continues to progress.

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The programme educated professionals and the public

Each of the supported projects could utilize mentoring led by recognized experts in the field of inclusive education, early childhood development support, partnership building, or the creation of inclusive policies at the local level within the programme. The role of mentoring was to support the project’s success, increase its positive impact, ensure sustainability, and contribute to establishing new collaborations.

Nineteen supported organizations utilized the mentoring programme, receiving over 200 hours of mentoring from 11 experts.

Training for hundreds of professionals

The Together for Children programme also included training sessions.They focused mainly on familiarizing with the concept of inclusion and methods of its effective implementation in practice, not only at the school levelbut also within local governments.

In total, we organized 20 training sessions and a conference for over 680 professionals in 6 cities.

International conference

The highlight of the programme was an International Conference on Inclusive Education, where experts from different countries shared their experiences to support the development of inclusive education in Slovakia. You can read more about the conference here.

Communication

Supported organizations communicated about their activities and successes, raising awareness about inclusion and the need to support children with diverse needs. They created over 500 communication outputs.