One of the huge advantage of participating in different EU projects is meeting new, wonderful people who then invite you to participate in other new projects. This has happened in our case. We have known our good friend Dr. Oliver Holz for many, many years. Every time we participate with him and his colleagues in an international project it is a special experience. Oliver is a heart of the project, full of energy, inspiration and knowledge. Every Slovenian ITTS team member has cooperated with Oliver in different projects, therefore, when some time ago Oliver came up with the ITTS idea, we did not hesitate, we immediately joined his team. Of course, the topic itself is a special issue because none of us has dealt with the teachers with a refugee background and it means a challenge for us. And we like challenges! Especially if they deal with the quality of human life and with the improvement of the school systems.
So, we contacted the rector’s office at the University of Maribor and filled in all the necessary documents to be a part of the ITTS team. Here we are, firstly introducing the University of Maribor, where we work. The mission of the University of Maribor is based on curiosity, creativity, freedom of spirit, cooperation and knowledge transfer in the field of science, art and education. It has 19 member institutions and expands knowledge, raises awareness, and promotes humanistic values as well as the culture of dialogue, quality of life and global justice. The Faculty of Education is one of the members of the University of Maribor. It educates and trains teachers and other education experts – from preschool and primary school teachers to teachers of music and fine arts, inclusive educators, and sports coaches. We are aware of the urgent need to educate top and specialised experts who would ensure the further development of the educational practice in this region and in Slovenia.
When we are going to host our ITTS colleagues from other EU countries we will proudly present our city Maribor. Maribor has a pleasant location at the crossroads of an important European path leading from the west to the east and to the south of Europe (geographical position). It is located only 11 km from the Austrian border. It is surrounded by the green forests of Pohorje, a sunny wine-growing region and the Drava River that runs through the city (aerial footage of Maribor). Maribor has rich historic and cultural roots, reaching back to the Middle Ages. The top culinary selection and several festivals continue to bring joy to the city. We have a rich wine tradition, the oldest vine in the world (old vine), which is found in the city centre, as well as the wine roads in the surroundings. We will be happy to introduce all these sightseeing’s to our ITTS friends and invite them to make a toast with a glass of wine from the cellars of local wine producers.
Faculty of Education, University of Maribor (by Matjaž Duh) and Maribor by night (by Matjaž Duh)
Slovenia has always been a multilingual and multicultural society. Over the last decades the intermingling of languages and cultures has appeared due to the Balkan conflicts and broad global and European migrations. Numerous immigrants from the former Yugoslav countries live here, as well as to the growing numbers of other immigrants coming from across Europe because of increased mobility and migration. Slovenia has no state or systematic teacher education or training in working with teachers with a migrant background. There are some guidelines and strategies offered to the teachers which take into account an inclusive approach to integration of children and immigrant students in the Slovenian school system (e.g. personalized assessment of knowledge for students of other nationalities, the translator, whose assistance parents have to pay on their own and is seldom used, volunteers who help these students at schools). The Slovenian ITTS team will try to overcome these drawbacks and will try to provide an overview of the situation in schools and offer some guidelines and support to the teachers with a migration background for their better inclusion into our teaching practice.
Photos by Matjaž Duh (CC BY-SA 4.0)