Participants of the course “A purposeful life”.
There is a tradition in Belarus to think of Adult Education only in terms of further education. Social needs of adults have been mostly neglected. With the introduction of the Code of Education, a broader definition of Adult Education was accepted, but it must be said that in practice not much has changed.
The Kobrin District, like most regions of Belarus until recently, has practically no system of educational services for physically-challenged adults. Young people with disabilities have no access to Adult Education that could help them in socialisation and integration into society. These things are necessary to raise their quality of life. At the same time a large potential of seniors have also been underestimated. These are people who despite their retirement age are still capable of being useful in society, but do not always have a possibility for self-realisation.
This was the star ting point of the project for socially excluded population groups “Kobrin Adult Education Centre – Your Chance”. It got started by the Kobrin Territorial Centre for Social Ser vices with the financial suppor t of the Representative Office of DV V International in Belarus in 2013. The project raises the quality of life of disadvantaged people in the Kobrin District by broadening their access to educational services of the Centre.
A number of state and non-state organisations par ticipated in the project implementation as par tners, among them the Kobrin State Developmental Remediation Centre for Children and the local branch of the “Belarusian Association of Support of Physically-Challenged Children and Youth”. The par tners were selected based on their rich experience of work with the target group of physically-challenged young people and their parents.
In 2011–2012, the Kobrin Territorial Centre for Social Services was directly engaged in implementing the project “TOLL AS – Towards a Life-Long Active Society”, providing seniors with access to educational ser vices. The overall coordination and support of the project activity was performed by the Kobrin District Executive Committee.
Participants of the course “Computer literacy” with their attendance certificates.
The main result was creating the Adult Education centre for the “Your Chance” disadvantaged population groups on the premises of the Kobrin Territorial Centre for Social Services, providing it with modern furniture and equipment.
By organising educational programmes for different social groups, the Kobrin territorial Centre for Social Ser vices ensures the fulfilment of human rights, the right to education and decent life in particular. This is also a way to stimulate the population to adapt to new social and economic conditions and social rehabilitation of certain population groups which are at risk.
Some special educational models have been worked out for the Adult Education centre in Kobrin which are as diverse and as varied as the problems of the target group and the reasons for them. The models cover a wide range of vital problems: organisation of routine based on independence; useful leisure time; creating families; communication with relatives and friends; art therapy, etc.
The Kobrin Territorial Centre for Social Ser vices has worked out and implemented 15 educational courses for seniors, physically-challenged people and their families according to their interests and necessities, reaching more than 500 participants.
The educational courses were conducted by the employees of the territorial centre as well as specialists of different organisations and institutions (both state and non-state) engaged in information and enlightenment work. During the selection of trainers and instructors, several factors were taken into account – not only professional competence, but also outstanding spiritual and moral features – because communication with people in challenging life situations requires compassion, mercy, the ability to comprehend their life and educational problems and understand the reasons for occasional inadequate behavioural responses.
To enable people who attended educational courses to use the acquired knowledge and skills, a special service bureau was created at the Adult Education Centre “Your Chance”. The bureau of fers a wide range of ser vices: grass mowing, typing, copying, cleaning-up, etc. The participants of educational courses provided services for each other: men learned how to work with a mower and a trimmer, women acquired skills in using a wet/dry vacuum cleaner. Physically-challenged young people – together with the seniors – carried out different tasks according to their abilities, reaching new levels of achievement and meeting their own needs.
The Adult Education Centre “Your Chance” has become an effective model for activating seniors, people with disabilities and their families. The Centre contributes to social inclusion and cohesion, as well as active participation of citizens in the life of society, thanks to educational programmes and enlightenment. The Centre will continue its work after the completion of the project and its employees will keep on working on the multiplication of acquired experience in order to attract other target groups subject to the risk of social exclusion (e.g. the unemployed, ex-prisoners, etc.).
Tatiana Boiko, Head of the “Kobrin Territorial Centre for Social Ser vices”,
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