Children, parents and teachers against hate speech and discrimination
Type of Information
Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund)
Georgi Apostolov (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
Coordinator of Safer Internet Programme
For the project ‘Children, parents and teachers against hate speech and discrimination’, a working group of primary school teachers and experts developed a new method to teach topics from the official school curriculum while incorporating the principles of tolerance, acceptance of differences, non-violent communication and emotional intelligence.
To accompany the teaching method, the project published a teachers’ guidebook and students’ workbook. The method is interactive and focuses on teaching children how to navigate speech on the internet.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
Children and teenagers frequently encounter hate speech in both traditional media and on the internet. In Bulgaria, hate speech tends to target members of the Roma minority and immigrants. Although children may see persistent, normalised hate speech on the internet, they may not yet possess moral and psychological barriers against the manifestation of ethnic, religious or gender-based discrimination.
This project thus aimed to develop a prevention methodology for use in primary schools to counteract the widespread and daily use of discriminatory speech and hate speech.
How does it work
The project’s methodology employs a guidebook for teachers with 10 detailed lesson plans that teach the compulsory curriculum to primary school-aged children, while also helping students develop various skills, get to know each other better and communicate with others in a tolerant way. A workbook for students developed by the project accompanies the lessons. Components of the lessons and class activities include:
- Classroom discussions
- Re-enactments of everyday situations, through which students can better understand and analyse the educational material
- Parents’ participation in extracurricular activities and homework tasks. The homework tasks include activities like short quizzes and describing aspects of the family’s cultural background and traditions. Thus, parents can actively support their children’s development of new skills.
- An event for children, parents and teachers. The event provides an opportunity to present traditional cuisine, clothing, traditions, festivities, etc. of different minority groups, allowing children to learn about differences in culture and traditions.
The involvement of parents through homework and events reaffirms that the message of tolerance is shared both by families and schools. The lessons were developed by an expert working group that included teachers and professionals from primary schools in Sofia.
The teachers’ guidebook and students’ workbook were disseminated on request to more than 150 schools in Bulgaria, distributing all 10,000 workbooks and 600 guidebooks that were printed. Since requests for the materials continued coming, the project made the materials free to download online.
The teachers who participated in the development of the modular lessons, as well as dozens of other teachers who received the materials and implemented the methodology, gave very positive feedback. Children reported that they liked the interactive teaching method and were very happy to participate in events together with their parents or caretakers.
The project invited an external evaluator. The overall evaluation was excellent, with a recommendation to find more funds to print the teaching materials in order to meet demand. The evaluation also recommended lobbying the Ministry of Education to approve the methodology for use in all schools.
The guidebook and workbook were presented to the Ministry of Education for approval in accordance with the official procedures, but the Ministry did not evaluate the methodology due to lack of time. It will be presented again when a new procedure is open.
Who will benefit?
The main beneficiaries of the teaching methodology are children in primary schools. They are taught tolerance and emotional intelligence, how to recognise hate speech and discrimination against peers and how to react.
Teachers also benefit from using the methodology, as it helps them address the difficult issues of intolerance and discrimination among young children in an appealing way. They also benefit from creating stronger ties between families and school.
Minority families benefit from the creation of a more tolerant and supporting environment for their children at school.
Source of funding and Resources used
The project was co-funded by the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (2009-2014). The total project budget was € 58,430. The project team consisted of 4 staff members. In addition, 9 primary school teachers and school psychologists took part in the development and testing of the methodology.
In order to make the workbooks appealing to children, the project employed extensive illustrations and included stickers to use for some exercises. This made the workbooks quite expensive to print, taking a large portion of the project’s financial resources.