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Educators discuss inclusion at eTwinning conference in Malta

A panel discussion during one of the conference’s plenary sessions on how to turn inclusion into action.

A panel discussion during one of the conference’s plenary sessions on how to turn inclusion into action.

Addressing 750 European education policymakers, school leaders, at the three-day eTwinning Annual Conference held in Malta, Mark Penfold, lead teacher for ethnic minority achievement at Babington College, Leicester, UK, emphasised the need to stop confusing inclusion with integration.

In his presentation, entitled ‘The meaning, philosophy and practice of inclusion in a digital age’, Penfold said teachers need to understand that inclusion is not treating everyone the same but rather affording everyone the same opportunities.

“If you treat a lemon and a fig tree the same, they won’t give fruit. Find the right way to treat each plant,” he said.

If you treat a lemon and a fig tree the same, they won’t give fruit. Find the right way to treat each plant

The main focus of the conference was to share how eTwinning could be a tool to raise schools’ capabilities to deal with situations where students feel ex­cluded due to factors such as cultural differences, ethnic origin, gender, age, disability, educational difficulties, economic disadvantages or geographical obst­acles. The participants discussed the importance of making friends and building alliances to reach out to marginalised groups in education systems because of any of these variables. Ways in which students can be equipped with the competences necessary to make the most of the opportunities available in society were also demonstrated and analysed.

Digital literacy support teachers Daniela Scicluna and Michelle Saliba. leading a workshop.Digital literacy support teachers Daniela Scicluna and Michelle Saliba. leading a workshop.

Rodrigo Ballester, a member of the Cabinet of European Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, who opened the conference’s first plenary session, said that although there were already 500,000 people involved in eTwinning, there was still scope for it to grow. He said eTwinning can turn inclusion into action via specific international projects, dedicated professional development op­por­tunities and by networking tea­chers so that they feel part of an inclusive community.

During the second day of the conference, the participants joined one of 52 workshops led by experienced teachers/trainers on different topics surrounding the theme of inclusion, such as social and emotional learning, decentralised technologies, developing intercultural competence in the classroom and gender equality and diversity in education.

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo addressed the conference’s final plenary session during which he talked about the need to find truly inclusive practices, not ones where ‘one size fits all’.

He also said there was a need to put the universal declaration of human rights above cultural values and religion.

https://www.etwinning.net/en/pub/highlights/etwinning-annual-conference-in.htm

Lara Sammut and Monica Abela Medici leading a workshop on the inclusion of newcomer learners.Lara Sammut and Monica Abela Medici leading a workshop on the inclusion of newcomer learners.

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