"Do we belong together?" The region as an education village. International conference outcomes

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The conference took place in Brno on December 7-8, 2022. It was dedicated to supporting talent and deepening partnerships in the regions in education and training. The event was organized by the National Pedagogical Institute of the Czech Republic with the support of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Educational Institute for Moravia with the support of the South Moravian Region and the Meeting Brno festival. The partners of the event were Masaryk University Brno, the Italian association Cometa and the UNESCO-UNEVOC network.

"It takes a village to raise a child", says an African proverb. Even today, successful education requires the cooperation of families, schools, associations, companies, professional workplaces... in short, the entire "village". International conference Do we belong together? The region as an education village tried to set up and deepen partnerships of this type within the South Moravian Region, with a support from international partners from Italy and England.

The first day was dedicated to nurturing talent in vocational education and finding ways for schools and companies to cooperate. Presentations and speeches were given by Daniel Low-Beer, a successor of an important Brno based Löw-Beer/Tugendhat dynasty – textile manufacture owners; Alessandro Mele and Stefano Tirati, representatives of Cometa – an Italian association of inclusive education and center of vocational excellence. The afternoon belonged to Czech representatives of VET schools, National Pedagogical Institute and regional authorities. 

The topic of the second day was the very search for ways to profile the region as an "educational village". Ondřej Macek presented the way in which Jan Amos Komenský, the icon of teachers, was able to face the war and many other tragic events. Hans van Mourik Broekman, headmaster of Liverpool College, has shared what made him reform the school after the recent pandemic, which was previously ranked as the best on the islands by the UK Schools Inspectorate. Alessandro Mele presented the Cometa association as a place that keeps on developing and moving forward thanks to the constant repetition of what it was created for – the ability to receive and accompany children and young people rejected elsewhere.

Conference outputs

In Czech conditions, the very fact that the conference was co-organized by organizations established by the state, the region and a non-profit association is a significant step towards deepening cooperation in the territory.

On the first day, an intention was announced to create a Central European network of secondary vocational schools, and at the end of the conference a plan was presented for a new regional platform for education, to which among other things, the education councilors of all 21 municipalities with extended powers in the region will be invited. The platform could effectively become the "management board" of the process of transforming the region into an education village.

Ivo Jupa presented the joint project of the National Pedagogical Institute and the Czech School Inspectorate Pilot 14, which offers an individual, tailored assistance to principals of selected schools. This project was presented on December 8.

Furthermore, deepening the partnership of all institutions and initiatives presented (and represented) at the event,  could naturally lead to the emergence of an important international network of educational actors who really focus on the relationship between teachers and pupils and have the ambition to contribute to the transformation of their territory into an education village.