Italian, Slovenian, UK and Croatian students ‘painted the world’ with celebrating diversity

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In 2010, the Forum for Freedom of Education started celebrating the International Day of Tolerance (16th November) by implementing the project Paint the World with Diversity.

The project developed further into a creative contest in which students from schools all over Croatia and neighbouring countries creatively expressed their voice on topics like diversity, creativity, nonviolence, peace and social justice, through creative art work like photography, comics, posters, stories, songs, video editing and other ways of creative expression. This already popular creative contenst among students in Croatia was recognized as the good practice worth upscaling to Start the Change project partners.

This year in four countries the value of this contest has been recognized by more than 1900 students who wrote poems, stories, made drawings, short films, innovative games, etc. about diversity and the importance of mutual acceptance. Having in mind that Forum for Freedom in the Education has been running this contest in Croatia for eight years in a row, and the Think Global partnered with the teachers’ union NASUWT art competition, it was expected that these two organizations received much more creative works. But in all countries there was interest and appriciation expressed by students and teachers about opportunity for young people to creatively express themselves.


In United Kingdom, partner organization Think Global partnered with the national teachers’ union: NASUWT who runs an annual art competition Arts and minds on identity and diversity, and Think Global had a special recognition award called Think Global’s Diversity Today Award. This year focus was on Windrush generation, and the special recognition award was given to 12 finalists.



In the organization of Italian partner Center for Creative Development Danilo Dolci,  the contest was attended by students from six Start the Change schools, and four best works were awarded at the ceremony held at the Aula Magna of the Vittorio Emanuele II high school. The song ‘A lot of Pages’ thrilled up the jury and audience and won the first prize (, the students and teachers agreed that participation in the competition for them was a positive experience that they hoped to repeat. Additional effort was made by the project team in making the STC Notebook with students’ art work which was also promoted on this ceremony.



In Slovenia, the project team of Youth Center of Dravinja Valley decided to give additional value to the ‘Paint the world’ ceremony, and alongside the exhibition of selected creative works they organized a ‘human library’ and a lecture. In this way, the students and teachers had the opportunity to challenge their own prejudices, and teachers learned more about dealing with hate speach.



In Croatia, the expert committee of Forum for Freedom in Education selected 42 works within 7 categories: socially engaged art work, paint the world by action, paint the world by music, paint the world with innovation, paint the world with words, paint the world with picture, paint the world with school project and category Start the Change. During the ceremony organized at the Music Institute Zagreb the awarded students had a chance to present their work and message they wanted to give with their art work, about their experience of being different and similar in schools and local communities, and also some students raised questions about their own and other’s identities that make a difference.


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