Over the past few years, the Bulgarian society has been affected by the ever-growing wave of aggressive, offensive and discriminative viewpoints, including xenophobia and racism. This flood of hate speech has on several occasions spilled over into different forms of physical violence. Children are exposed to hate speech since a very young age, due to their early entry into the digital world. Their encounter with a constant and normalized use of hate speech in the Internet comes at a time, when they do not yet possess moral and psychological barriers towards the manifestation of ethnical, religious or gender-based discrimination. The project “Children, teachers and parents against hate speech and discrimination”, carried out by the Applied Research and Communications Fund in two main stages, aims to counteract this tendency.
The first stage of the project was devoted to the selection and development of 10 lesson plans for the primary school pupils. These lessons present the compulsory education material in a way, which not only educates the children, but also helps them to develop various skills, get to know themselves better and communicate with others in a tolerant way. The students have the opportunity to participate in discussions and to reenact everyday scenes and situations, through which they can better understand and analyze the educational material. The lessons were designed by an expert working group, consisting of experts from the Institute of Psychology of the Bulgarian Academy of Science and teachers and professionals from primary schools in Sofia. Each participant in the expert group developed a different lesson plan, based on their competence. The lesson plans were then sent to experts from the Ministry of Education, the Institute of Psychology and the Faculty of Preschool and Primary School Education of Sofia University for review. Their theoretical, as well as practical recommendations, were taken into account and the lesson plans were edited accordingly.
The developed methodology did not forget the parents, as their example is a leading one for children. For this reason, the lesson plans have foreseen different extracurricular activities with joint participation of children, parents and teachers. In this way, parents can actively support the development of new skills of their children.
In the second stage of the project, the finalized lesson plans were tested in four Sofia schools (two of them have students from different ethnical backgrounds). The testing provided a valuable feedback that was utilized for elaboration of relevant methodical guidelines to be presented to teachers in different primary schools.
After the completion of the lesson plans and methodical guidelines, a training seminar was organized with participation of 25 teachers and volunteers from different schools from Sofia city and the wider Sofia region.
The project “Children, parents and teachers against hate speech and discrimination” is co-financed by EEA Grants and the Support Programme for NGOs in Bulgaria.
Round table against hate speech in primary schools
On the 25th April the Applied Research and Communications Fund organized a round table, during which more that 20 experts discussed the constant occurrence of hate speech among primary school students on and offline.
Training teachers in prevention of hate speech
On September 8, 2015, a team of experts from the Applied Research and Communications Fund held a training for 30 primary-school teachers on the methodology for countering hate speech and discrimination.
Primary school teachers begin the prevention of hate speech and discrimination at school
In June 2015, primary school teachers from 5 different Bulgarian towns entered a workshop for early prevention of hate speech and discrimination through interactive methods of teaching the school curriculum.
Experts talked about the methods of preventing hate speech
On the 15th June, over 30 experts from state institutions, the educational system and the non-governmental sector discussed the possible ways through which the prevention of hate speech, discrimination and radicalization of young people could begin as early as in primary school.