Fuelling knowledge and understanding among young Europeans of the diversity of European cultures and languages is high on the EU agenda. A case in point is the 'Bridging Insula Europea' project, which seeks to offer young people the life skills they need for successful development of their personal and professional lives. The project is funded under Comenius, a 'Lifelong learning' sectoral programme.
Participating in this programme is the Swedish Berg Upper-Secondary School, which launched a forum for students to meet and discuss their lives in the province of Jämtland with their European peers, as well as to think more as Europeans. The objective was to bridge the gap between them and the students from six other European countries (Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Romania and Finland).
The Department of Educational Sciences at Mid Sweden University and the municipality of Berg are working together for the Swedish component of the 'Bridging Insula Europea' project. Their focus is on the integration and clarification of what makes students 'Swedish' in a European perspective. The participants are also concentrating on bringing the shared European dimension to light.
According to officials, the use of two joint Web platforms has made it possible for the students in different countries to communicate with one another.
National curricula across Europe are tailor-made for each country and the schools therein. The issues covered include values and knowledge, as well as the fostering of active citizenship.
The project has succeeded in bolstering the European component of courses, despite the fact that the students have for the most part dealt more with their own situation and environment, according to Ann-Kristin Jonsson, a participant who coordinated the Berg Upper-Secondary School students' inclusion in the project.
A case in point is how the students related to the European Parliament election last June. Ms Jonsson asserted that the students for the most part based their thinking more on a common European perspective than on a national viewpoint when talking about issues corresponding to Europe and the election.
Dr Anders Olofsson, project leader at Mid Sweden University, believes the project has been informative in several ways.
For his part, Dr Ola Lindberg of the Department of Education at Mid Sweden University, said: 'We have been able to study how a combination of subject integration, international cooperation, and use of ICT [information and communication technology] can be understood as school development. The project has provided us with several interesting studies for next year.'
Berg municipality officials, meanwhile, have stated that the results of the project will help them get a number of future developmental projects off the ground.
Regarding Comenius, the programme gets its name from John Amos Comenius (1592-1670), a Czech scientist, educator and writer. He was a major proponent for universal education, a concept that was eventually outlined in his book Didactica Magna (The Great Didactic). People worldwide refer to him as the 'Teacher of nations', and he is considered by many as the father of modern education.