13.4. OTHERS DIMENSIONS OF INTERNATIONALISATION IN EARLY CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL EDUCATION
• 1 European, global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development
North Macedonian schools have the opportunity for participation in several networks and initiatives which encourage cooperation between schools at international level. Most attractive for our teachers are the professional development opportunities offered through participation in Erasmus+ mobility actions and accompanying network eTwinning.
Some of the best projects, initiatives that aim to foster the teaching/learning of a foreign language when provided outside the curriculum framework and within the framework of learning mobility and partnerships or intercultural knowledge are given below.
The project Smile and Play had its main aim to improve learning and teaching processes through the development and integration of non-formal, innovative, and game-based methodologies for language learning, which strengthened teacher's and pupils' skills, knowledge, and attitude towards cycling in general. The main achievement of the project was the development of the educational board game "Smile and Play" which is available in both physical (hard copy) and digital/online version. The game was distributed to all partners and associated partners, as well as to more than 200 schools, app. 150 from North Macedonia, 35 from Italy and 15 from Lithuania. The format, educational game in English and national languages teaches the pupils about real problems they can face, while on the other hand the school teachers have an opportunity to learn and adopt new teaching approaches.
One of the awarded eTwining projects is “Slow Down Education in the Nature - Twin Space”. Project idea is to do preventive measures to reduce tension for learners - dynamism in the learning process and during out-of-class time (lesson breaks leisure time), by organizing this time outside the school premises - in nature. Slowing down the daily rhythm, giving the opportunity to listen to themselves and nature and giving them time to accept themselves and what is going on around them. This would improve students' soft competences. Initiation of slow education activities in the learning process and leisure time by using holistic approach and innovative pedagogical solutions to prevent teenager disadvantage of motivation to learn and increase interest in STEM courses would be achieved through improve foreign language skills; work in teams, groups - collaboration skills; improve self-esteem; leading, managing skills by organization of peer activities; digital competences; time management; interest in STEM, motivation to learn STEM; reduce behavioral problems, like difficulty to concentrate, violation of rules, inability to manage emotions, lack of friendship skills, lack of parental guidance.
• 2 Partnerships and networks
Participation of the primary and secondary schools in the Erasmus+ KA2 action (strategic partnership projects) also has significant impact on the international dimension and emphasizing of the European context of the national education system. Being partners of the European schools in Erasmus+ partnership projects, the Macedonian schools participate in activities which accelerate the transfer of knowledge from other education systems and support the process of devising new innovative approaches in teaching, learning and instruction. In the period 2014-2020 the schools from North Macedonia participated in 22 projects with total value above 2.610.000 Euro in the Erasmus + key action KA 201 Strategic Partnerships in school education and 25 projects with total value above 3.327.327 Euro in the Erasmus + key action KA 202 Strategic Partnerships in Vocational Education and Training.
North Macedonia is also full member of the Academy of Central European School which involves more than 460 schools from 15 countries. The fast growing network of schools offers financial support for the applicant schools and their partner who work together in a partnership project during one school year. The participation in this network has essential impact on internationalization since its support the activities related to European citizenship stimulating thereby creation of new effective and innovative approaches in teaching and learning.
The Building Bridges Fund is a joint project launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Education and Science, the Government of Switzerland and the OSCE Mission to Skopje, which was further supported by the Governments of Ireland and Austria. Currently, active supporters of the Fund are the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as well as the Governments of the United States of America, Italy, Slovakia and Luxembourg, in addition to the OSCE Mission to Skopje. From 2018, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy joined the work of the Fund. Its objective is to increase interaction, understanding and integration among students of different communities through innovative approaches. The fund continues to provide easy access to grants for municipalities, students, teachers, parents, schools and kindergartens who want to organize joint activities including students from all communities who attend classes in different languages of instruction in order to increase interaction, understanding and integration in the school and the preschool environment. New generations need bridges between them that will give them access to the richness and benefits of diversity, especially in schools and kindergartens, which should prepare them for a common future in Europe with all its cultural diversity.