Sunday, 22 January 2012

Working for a better future

In the last three years I had many opportunities to travel and get to know more about the education systems and lifestyles of the different European countries. This happened because my school partecipates in programmes like Comenius and eTwinning.

I have had so many experiences… I saw beautiful countries, met great people and we prepared interesting activities together. But what I like best – I think, if we can visit a partner school, we can get to know more about real life in a country.

Sometimes it happened that I was surprised at the richness of materials that a school and teachers could have for free in their everyday job. For example in France in a primary school I found a lot of paints, tinted papers, pasteboards and didactic games. Maybe in your schools there are all of these things, but for me it was a miracle.
Another school in England had a great place for free activities, and a theatre room. Fantastic!

But sometimes I met very difficult situations as well. The deepest poverty I have ever seen was in a desert, near Syria. We visited one of our partner schools in Turkey, and then we went to visit the Ancient City of Harran.

While we were having a walk around the town, I heard that a child was crying. I tried to look around, but I couldn't see the child. Later, I found where he could be.. he was a little boy, in a barrow. I didn’t see him, only his foot. He was covered by some clouts. I didn’t meet his mom, he had only his two brothers next to the barrow. I was really sad, and I wished I could help.

The guide talked about life in a desert, and about people who five years ago lived in caves... in that moment I felt that what I consider a difficult situation in my life, in fact it is not so difficult compared to that. I have food to eat, a family, friends, a job I like - and actually I live in a house.

Now we live a crisis, and unfortunately I feel this school year many families have a really difficult situation in Hungary as well. Parents loose their job, don’t have enough time or patience to be with their daughters and sons. I see some of my pupils who can’t study because they are hungry or sleepy, and who don’t have such a simple and normal thing at school as a ruler. This week one of my pupils went to live in another town because of economic problems in her family.

What kind of future can they have? I am worried about it. The school and school foundation help. For example a little girl was given a new winter coat, other pupils can come with us in a theatre for free, etc. But because of social issues it is more and more difficult to study, to attend a good high school, or university.

European programmes help us give our pupils more opportunities. It is great to see how our pupils and parents are happy when we could visit our partners abroad or when our partners come to visit us and we are together or we prepare our new activities.
I would like to give the same opportunities to many many pupils, and help them feel that it is important to study, to speak a foreign language, make friends with someone different from us.

We often talk about it – we would like to build a better future. Yes, it is true. But we need help to do it.
I hope the EU, through „Erasmus for All” and other programmes, will help us reach what we would like to do so much.


  1. Hi Monika,
    as you know I share your experience here. In the last couple of years, my school lost around 8% of students: it was mainly immigrant families who lost their jobs, and had to leave and go away. The "lucky" ones went back to their homeland, where their relatives could support them. The others just tried to find another less expensive place to live in. Tuscany is a place for tourists and it can be very expensive in everyday life.
    And now, just as it happens in Hungary, there are more and more families who can't afford to have their children attend high school or university. Maybe one (or both) of the parents lost their job.
    I don't know what the EU can do for them - for us. What's the point of European cooperation programmes when people can't afford to buy their children a winter coat, as you say?
    We do our best to prepare our pupils for an European future, through Comenius, eTwinning, CLIL activities... but to be honest, that European future looks very dark to me.

  2. Thank you Monika for this post. It's very sad when we see our pupils lacking very simple, everyday things, like a coat, a ruler, books (sometimes even their breakfast).
    In the last couple of years, in my school we decided to organize school trips only in places that can be reached by walking, or by free public bus. This happened because we have more and more students whose families cannot afford to pay for the school trip.
    I think the EU will have to deal seriously with an expanding problem in the near future: poverty.
    How can we build a better future for our pupils? I don't know. I do my best in my job, but when the pupil in front of you has no coat, what can you do? what can you teach? It's a good thing that the schools buys one, but remember that when the pupil goes back home, he/she will find the same situation.
    I can just hope we'll overcome the present crisis, so that our pupils can have the chance to imagine a better future for themselves.

    1. Dear Teresa,
      I have the same experience here...our school is a bit far from the city centre, where there are museums, parks, playgrounds etc. If we decide to go there, we need to buy two tickets, and after we pay for the activity as well. Because the prize of the tickets is higher than before, more families can't pay for a simple bus ticket :-(. Unfortunately this is the reality now here in Hungary. Just immagine..we went to partecipate in a competition in the town, This time the competition was in an other poin of Szeged, so we needed to buy 4 tickets. I had a call from a family, and they told me, even if their child has a talent, they can't pay for the bus ticket, because they haven't money to eat. I was so sad. At the end to help my pupil I bought the tickets, and he came to be with us.
      You are right, Teresa, when pupils go home, find the same situation.And there is a "limit" when we can't help.
      Yesterday in a situation in my class I talked about the importance of learning to my small pupils. It is true, it is important, and I like to see how they read, write and bee together. But when I talked I was very very worried because of them.
      It is not a nice experience.
      Teresa, thank you for being with us, Mónika