Children are children, no matter where they are born - but do they all have the same opportunities to attain their maximum potential? The ETHNIC project set out to raise awareness of science and technology among children and their parents from ethnic minorities. All too often even in our modern European societies young people from ethnic minorities are being left behind in terms of educational achievement partly due to circumstance and partly due to low expectations.
The ETHNIC project describes how we can raise participation levels among young people from major ethnic minority groups in science. Science is an ideal topic to promote better social inclusion because not only is it not dependent on local culture but also because qualifications in science are very highly regarded. Today’s scientists can look forward to very successful careers in a whole spectrum of areas.
ETHNIC brought together six partners from all over Europe to an incredibly successful project which has been the catalyst for many further activities.
The overall objectives and the outputs
One of the main objectives of the Ethnic project is to increase the number of young professional scientists and technologists from ethnic minorities.
Focusing on children with Turkish heritage in Austria, Roma youngsters in Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, Philippines and Peruvians in Italy, and young people with African Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom, the ETHNIC project established a dialogue with the public in more than 130 events over a two year period.
These included information days, exhibitions, after-school sessions, focus groups, seminars and consultative panels with a total of almost 2000 participants. The whole range of activities achieved a large press interest in most of the affiliated countries, such as on the Italian and Czech public television channels.
“If only one or two of the children I brought to science exhibitions decide to study after school, go to university or work as a scientist, I think I already achieved the goal of the project”, says Rita Litausky, the project supervisor.
An ongoing success story
The Slovenian and the British partners in particular have been able to continue following ETHNIC’s initial ideas and strategies. In the UK, for instance, new partners including the University of Manchester and the University of Liverpool joined the team and initiated further activities, including children, parents and teachers.
The project’s educational efforts were highly appreciated by the media. The BBC’s regional Northwest network cooperated with the teachers and the children of St. Hilda’s school (Essex) on a video project.
Interviewed by BBC radio the project leader from the Research Institute in Ljubljana, Miroslav Polzer, said:
“It is important to bring in social groups which are at the margin of society into this process, so that they can benefit from the socio-economic progress in order to create more social cohesion. Involving ethnic minorities in science and technology education is simply vital for the socio-economic development of society as a whole.”
Listen to BBC Interview (mp3 – Windows Media Player)