The European Commission’s 'eTwinning' network, which has encouraged 100 000 schools in 33 European countries to talk to each other via the internet, will be extended from today to schools in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The launch of 'eTwinning Plus' will enable these countries to join a massive virtual classroom in which pupils and teachers can learn more about their counterparts and take part in interactive projects focused on language learning or maths, for instance. It is also an opportunity for youngsters to discover different cultures and traditions– as well as to find out what they have in common.
"eTwinning is a brilliant educational project with enormous potential to break down barriers. The contacts we have facilitated between schools are incredibly beneficial to everyone involved; eTwinning gives them the freedom to develop creative and inter-cultural educational projects, while also encouraging children to develop their ICT skills. With eTwinning Plus, we are taking this network to a new level," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
eTwinning Plus is a pilot project initiated as part as the EU's Neighbourhood policy, under the 'Contacts between people' platform which aims to enhance dialogue with Eastern partners. The Commission plans to gradually roll out the scheme to Southern neighbourhood countries, starting with Tunisia. To start with, the eTwinning Plus platform will use English and Russian as its main languages, with French and Arabic to follow at a later stage. As well as serving as a meeting point for pupils and teachers to share ideas, it will also enable schools to find partners for joint projects.
To help establish the network, a partner support agency has been set up in each of the neighbouring countries involved. These organisations will promote eTwinning Plus at the national level, ensure it meets the needs of schools and organise training sessions for teachers. They will select participating schools on the basis of their computer equipment and knowledge of languages. They will ensure that rural and urban schools, as well as children from different socio-economic backgrounds, are involved.
The budget for eTwinning Plus is € 834 000: around half of this sum will be invested in developing the new online platform and coordination work, with the remainder allocated to co-funding the partner support agencies. The allocation by country is as follows: Armenia € 64 000, Azerbaijan € 80 000, Georgia € 64 000, Moldova € 80 000 and Ukraine € 96 000.