Aiming to develop higher student literacy, we support teacher and student involvement with educational curricular and extracurricular projects focusing on the exploration of the Roma cultural identity, which otherwise is absent from the official curricula. Additionally, giving space and opportunities to the youth to express their artistic traditions fosters self-confidence and pride in the Roma community. Furthermore, ensuring commitment to being a full-time student in order to be a member of our Sports Club reduces student drop-out rates in our two schools, helps increase literacy rate and, at the same time, decrease crime rate among minors in our district. Moreover, it is an efficient way to give opportunity to the Roma minors to create a community of peers in a non-Roma-dominated Bulgarian environment, through competition young people strengthen their self-image.

Main Goal:

Our initiatives so far have been working with the youth through the Sports Club and music and dance. Currently, our main emphasis, is in the educational sector and our focus will be teacher education and training. We wish to partner together with the Center for Educational Initiatives, Code Success Foundation, the Indology Program at Sofia State University and other educational institutions to plan and develop a course of work to fulfill our mission.


Teachers’ Needs:

We need to develop both Roma and non-Roma teachers’ awareness and sensitivity in relation to the diversity of students in our schools and prepare them methodologically to facilitate students’ learning and achievement of global competence in the 21st century.

Henceforth, they must be trained in three major directions:

Curricular needs – how to develop and execute curricula which are designed from the outset to be flexible and readily adapt to individual differences. Our objective is to introduce teachers to several pedagogical principles and best instructional practices, such as:

  • student-centered learning
  • differentiated instruction
  • project-based learning

Technological needs – how to utilize the advances of multimedia learning technologies. Our objective is for teachers to:

  • learn how to select and create resources on multimedia
  • learn new technological tools
  • implement communicative instruction in technology-supported classrooms.

Social justice education needs – how to teach “a philosophy, an approach, and actions that embody treating all people with fairness, respect, dignity, and generosity” with its four components as defined in literature (Nieto, 2010, p. 46):

  • it challenges, confronts, and disrupts misconceptions, untruths, and stereotypes that lead to structural inequality and discrimination based on social and human differences.
  • it provides all students with the resources necessary to learn to their full potential, including both material and emotional resources.
  • it draws on the talents and strengths that students bring to their education.
  • it creates a learning environment that promotes critical thinking and agency for social change.

These include equality, equity, privilege, marginalization, oppression, and dehumanization.


These two areas of teacher training provide a new and promising framework for the realization of optimized student learning and development of 21st century skills:

  1. cooperation
  2. critical thinking
  3. communication
  4. creativity

The 21st century world has been rapidly changing as a result of a range of forces mostly based on the exponential rate of technological advancement, based on which more sophisticated communication and exchange of information has been growing along with the process of globalization. First of all, it is a world of innovation- and creativity-driven globalized economies where creativity, flexible thinking, on-the-job learning and technological literacy matters. Second, it is also a world of global connectivity through extensive real and virtual communication and travel via the WWW, social media, phone-call cards, free video calls, chats, etc., requiring new interpersonal and intrapersonal, intercultural, multilingual and even multidialectal skills. In addition, the world is characterized by information overflow by globalized news and entertainment through movies, satellite channels, online news, which, in order to handle and manage, in addition to strong cognitive skills, including factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive (as articulated in Bloom’s taxonomy, 1956 and modified by Laurin Anderson and David Krathwahl, 2001), requires, conative skills built at the intersection of cognition and affection in which personality and intelligence overlap to facilitate decision-making (Douglas Snow and Douglas Jackson, 1993). The 21stcentury is also a world of  expanded civic life where citizens are active in physical communities, online and through social media, getting involved in local politics as well as global initiatives (Based on Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2006).

As a result, a new set of skills for “work, citizenship and self-actualization” has emerged (Chris Dede, Comparing Frameworks for 21st Century Skills, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2009) and along with them “a new set of desires and expectations” as well as styles of learning, which education needs to address through a shift in instructional delivery and curriculum (B. Trilling & C. Fadel. (2009). Twenty-first Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass p. 29). Trilling and Fadel propose a revised taxonomy for the twenty-first century skills, which they refer to as the “Knowledge and Skills Rainbow.” This model is not envisioned as a continuum from processes of learning content to application, but rather as a more fluid and symbiotic process, in which the order can be reversed based upon the learner’s readiness, prior skills and interests. The new model stresses the development of cooperation skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, and creativity and innovation (all skills necessary in the twenty-first-century marketplace) over rote memorization and predetermined application conducted in isolation.

Fortunately, in the last decade education has undergone serious progress vis-à-vis organization, management, professionalization, articulation and alignment, due to a series of top-down and bottom-up efforts and initiatives among educators, administrators and policy-makers at the community, state and federal levels. The 21st Century World-Readiness Standards articulate and promote five goal areas leading to the development of skills allowing students to efficiently “participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world.”  Best teaching practices design and provide opportunities for engaged and meaningful communicative learning in different real-life contexts across different subject areas and requiring different sets of skills. These are opportunities for students, to develop not only knowledge across different disciplines and content areas, but also a wider range of cognitive and professional skills. Teachers of the core academic subjects need to provide prolific opportunities for interdisciplinary research and training. Undoubtedly, the problem, most certainly, has been the insufficient access to teacher training options, since training is the only path to reaching the needed confidence and experience levels to do this consistently. Or in other words, instructors first need to be better equipped with the 21st century skills in order to be able to help their students be better equipped with 21st century skills and global competence.

Students’ Needs:

Our community center is still a virtual place, which coordinates ad hoc activities and initiatives. Fakulteta has a population of about 35 000 Roma people. Our community needs a physical place for extra-curricular, afterschool, weekend and vacation-time activities where our minors can participate in planned and organized activities with consistent adult supervision. This place will serve as a community center with several halls for cultural activities and events, a computer lab and a digital library for personal and academic use by students, teachers and adults.

Our immediate goal is to equip our two schools, whose facilities we intermittently have access to, with computers, smartboards and IPads to allow for students as well as teachers to use the Internet and the resources for teaching and learning.