What happens around Europe?

A building belonging to the Independent Academy of Free School Teaching in Denmark, URBINGO in Lithuania and a painted house in Poland.

You want to be up to date on some of the activities effe is involved in? Check out our blog entries.


We will keep you posted about the meetings and conferences we have attended. The blog entries are meant to give an impression of the events, the atmosphere and the major issues that have been addressed. They also contain information about people and organizations that have been involved in the events. Sometimes you will find links to the locations we have visited or where we have met people.  


You will find some of the blog entries as well in other sections of the website. All blog entries which are part of the activities of CitizensLab can be also found there.


All blog entries reflect the opinion and the experiences of the author. The author of each blog entry is identified at the bottom of the post.

Mikros Dounias | Intercultural Encounters

Mikros Dounias | Intercultural Encounters | Cover illustration
Mikros Dounias | Intercultural Encounters | Cover illustration

Mikros Dounias is an intercultural pedagogical project based on the Greek island of Lesvos. Amid the so called refugee crisis the people of Mikros Dounias created a place for local and refugee children of early childhood age to play and learn together in nature.


We find ourselves on the island of Lesvos, sometime in 2017. Parents meet at a playground in the city of Mytlene, to discuss and envision an outdoor learning community aimed at young children, regardless of ethnic origin, social class and other forms of discriminaton. Informal discussions turn into a weekly assembly with the partcipation of educators.


The group comes in contact with Lesvos Solidarity, a local organization that actively stands for the co-existence and co-creation between locals and refugees. This fruitful interaction brings together people and ideas from different cultural backgrounds; among these acquaintances is Marit H., an Associate Professor of Pedagogy in Norway and volunteer in PIKPA Open Refugee Camp (hereafter PIPKA Camp), who gradually creates a supportive network for our endeavor. In June 2017, during a Workshop on Outdoor Play and Learning with professors from Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education of Trondheim, our plans and dreams start to feel possible.


During the same period, we had our first meeting with families residing in PIKPA Camp. One Afghan father suggested the name for our endeavor. Dounias (or dounya) means “world” in all the languages of the people that are present in the meeting—Farsi, Arabic, Kurdish and Greek. And Mikros, which means “small” in Greek, because it’s a small world after all.


In October 2017, Mikros Dounias (hereafter MD) welcomes the first children from local and refugee families to the small pine forest of PIKPA camp. Until PIKPA’s evacuation in October 2020, MD provided stable, outdoor, free experiential learning to 31 children who were residents of PIKPA and 18 children from the city of Mytilene.


Why, though, did the above happen in this place, at that time and that way? Starting in summer of 2015, Lesvos had become a crossroads of cultures, languages, religions and different realities. A new community of refugees has become part of the everyday life of the island. Meanwhile, some of the native residents, despite having themselves a history of forced displacement (expulsions and the 1923 exchange of populations) and immigration (to America, Australia, African states and Germany), hold an ethnocentric worldview.

October 30, 2020 saw the evacuation of the PIKPA Open Refugee Camp, where the pedagogical project Mikros Dounias had been hosted during its first three years of operation. Since 2012, PIKPA had housed thousands of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, with the help and constant struggle of many people, selforganized groups, organizatuons and above all the N.G.O. Lesvos Solidarity.


In December 2020, MD’s pedagogical and administrative team contacted the European Forum for Freedom in Education (EFFE) and the National Association of Free Alternative Schools of Germany (BFAS), suggesting that they support the documentation and dissemination of the intercultural educational practices of MD, as it had progressed within PIKPA.


As a result of the cooperation, an Online Workshop took place and a booklet on International Encounters has been published. To read more about intercultural educational practices based on the work of Mikros Dounias, dowload the booklet on International Encounters which is available in English, German and Greek.

Mikros Dounias | Intercultural Encounters [English]
Intercultural Encounters in Mikros Douni
Adobe Acrobat Document 48.9 MB
Mikros Dounias | Intercultural Encounters [German]
Interkulturelle Begegnung in Mikros Doun
Adobe Acrobat Document 19.5 MB
Mikros Dounias | Intercultural Encounters [Greek]
Διαπολιτισμική Συνάντηση στον ΜΝ - Greek
Adobe Acrobat Document 49.8 MB

Next Station: Victoria | Nächste Station: Viktoriaplatz

After its decline from a wealthy area of residence in the 20th century, the area around Victoria Square in Athens, Greece, has become a multicultural area and, more recently, a hot spot for migrants. The Greeks who left the area after the Second World War share with the Syrian and Afghan refugees who have arrived at Victoria Square in the recent years a vision of Germany as a latter-day "Promised Land": While the former look(ed) at emigration as a way towards employment, the latter, provisionally "stationed" in Victoria Square, have fled their home countries and are anxious to to on and to reach their final destination to reconnect with family and friends and build a new life.


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Review of the EU Key Competences Framework

effe welcomes the initiative to review the 2006 Framework of Key Competences for LifeLong Learning. Two areas are particularly important for the future of education - the adoption of most EU member states of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The required societal changes need new competences in order to achieve an inclusive and sustainable society. Leading European and international organizations repeatedly call for these changes and for the development of the related competences. But in both cases the very core of the needed changes remains still largely misunderstood.


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CitizensLab meeting in Brussels

After a quick and quiet train journey from Frankfurt Fernbahnhof to Brussels I walked from Gare du Nord in Brussels to the hotel. Serban (Asociatia Cicivus Romania) from Romania was the first person I met after checking in. He was waiting for his room to get ready. Francesco (Parliament Watch Italia) from Sicily (as he insisted on saying) was second, after him Marou (COMM'ON) from Greece whom I only knew from the conference call we did before the meeting. After that the lobby of the hotel quickly filled up with people. I knew about 30 of them from the kick-off meeting in Berlin and 20 newcomers were expected to join us in Brussels at the CitizensLab meeting.

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Right to learn - thoughts on digital learning

What do you think about digital learning? Do you believe that children and young people will benefit from digital learning? How will the digitalization of classrooms change learning processes and in which way does digital learning integrate with the development and needs of children and young people?


Who is developing pedagogical concepts for digital learning tools and environments and what is the motivation behind that? What is the role of the teacher in the digital classroom?


The paper of Ted Warren explores some of these questions. He urges parents and teachers to take responsibility for the learning processes of children and young people rather than to leave it to "the wizards of digital education" who promise they have machines with software that understands children and young people and will provide individualized learning processes.

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School Autonomy - How do inclusive schools work best?

The European Meeting of Independent Education (EMIE) 2017 on "Right to eduction: Freedom of Parental Choice" took place in January 24, 2017 in Bruxelles. EMIE is an European Network, gathering all organizations and players from civil society concerned with non-state education. Part of the meeting was a hearing with the British MP Andrew Lewer. The contributions on school autonomy of all organizations who have attended EMIE 2017 can be found at the website of ECNAIS


Anne Charrière who represented effe at EMIE argues in her address to the MP that school autonomy is a prerequisite for inclusion, a view which is based on her experience from a study of three inclusive schools. She states that for inclusive schools to function properly, autonomy is needed at all levels: class level, school level, structural level, space and time organisation. Anne is a board member of effe and has written a master thesis on inclusive schools.

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EUDEC Germany meeting in Leipzig

On Friday, November 25th I travelled from Denmark to Leipzig to join the EUDEC Germany meeting in Leipzig from November 25-27. I was looking forward to the meeting at the Freie Schule Leipzig where around 100 people who are interested in democratic education where about to meet. Much different from the conference in Denmark, the program would be filled in by participants (open space) and everybody was expected to take part in facilitating the meeting.

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Togetherness as motivation - a 21st Century skill?

The conference took place at the 24th of November 2016 at the Independent Academy for Free School Teaching in Ollerup in Denmark. Participants were invited to visit free schools on Wednesday and on Friday morning. Apart from inspiring lectures and workshops, we enjoyed a cultural program and fantastic food provided by the kitchen crew of the academy.

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Lust auf besser leben!

As a member of CitizensLab my interest is to find out how teachers can make more use of the learning opportunities which are available in the neighbourhood of schools. I believe that civil society organizations have developed approaches and methods which can be useful for teachers and that they can provide resources for learning outside of the classroom.



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STO Conference in Poland

The annual conference of Społeczne Towarzystwo Oświatowe (STO) took place in Poznan from November 4-6. The conference offered an inspiring mixture of lectures, workshops and sightseeing.


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Šnipiskeše - the wooden neighbourhood in Vilnius

Part of the activities of CitizensLab are mobilities which allow members to visit each other to learn more about the work CitizensLab members are engaged in all over Europe. End of October I visited Vilnius in Lithuania. 


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The declaration on the Right to Delopment (United Nations Declaration, 4 December 1986) proclaims that the right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. The declaration identifies the human being as the central subject of development.