“A Europe of Diasporas” – Education and Empowerment in Sofia

On 15th – 17th January 2016, a seminar entitled “Education and Empowerment” was held in Sofia, Bulgaria. This was the third seminar under the European project “A Europe of Diasporas” which aims to promote exchange, solidarity and common advocacy in a European context of rising tension and prejudice.

Jewish, Roma, Armenian and Assyrian participants from around Europe discussed how education can better address the needs of diasporas. Among other ideas the participants agreed that schools should give an opportunity to children of diasporas to learn their heritage, including their language. They agreed to support inclusive education that also features the contribution of diasporas to European society and that youth movements and informal education should be developed.

During a public conference entitled “United in Diversity: Educating Europe’s Diasporas” in Sofia University, Robert Djerassi, Advisor to the Minister of Education and Science of Bulgaria and Deyan Kolev, Chairman of the Roma educational organisation “Centre Amalipe”, explored the Bulgarian experience of providing education to children and young people who belong to diasporas.

“Education is what keeps diasporas alive”, EUJS President Benny commented. “It is what keeps them connected to the community and its heritage. It starts, in its basic form, with stories for children that are being passed down in the generations and continues through with language classes and schooling.”

In the course of the seminar the participants visited the AGBU centre, Armenian community centre, the church and the Jewish community centre in Sofia. The next milestone of the “Europe of Diasporas” project will be a conference in the European Parliament in May, where the proposals and results developed in the course of the project will be presented.

Partners of the project:

Phiren Amenca is a network of Roma and non-Roma volunteers and voluntary service organizations creating opportunities for non-formal education, dialogue and engagement, in order to challenge stereotypes and racism.

The European Union of Jewish Students is a pluralistic, inclusive and non-partisan umbrella organization that supports Jewish student unions throughout Europe and represents its members in international institutions and organizations.

AGBU Europe coordinates and develops the pan-European activities of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Established in 1906, AGBU is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. AGBU Europe runs numerous programmes in fields relating to academic research, the preservation and promotion of heritage, education and culture as well as awareness raising, advocacy and leadership training.