“Start the Change” Report Emphasize Students Need for Justice
The research “Start the Change – young people´s voices on their interests, needs, problems and solutions to contemporary challenges” was carried out with the aim of clarifying the interests, needs, problems and solutions to the current and everyday challenges of students in four European countries. Separate teams of researchers from partner organizations in Slovenia, Italy and the UK have conducted the research and created written individual reports on its results. The Forum for Freedom in Education in Croatia has conducted two researches aimed at understanding the interests, needs, problems and solutions of the current problems of Croatian high school students and their results will be presented in this comparative report as well.
The research was divided into four areas. The first took into account students’ general interests, the way they chose and were getting involved in various activities, and the level of satisfaction that these activities provided. The goal was to try to establish, from students’ perspective, whether the capacities of schools and the local community were sufficient to satisfy their interests. The second major area covered by the research was the students’ everyday problems, with the emphasis on identifying their personal and generational problems at the school and local level. An additional emphasis was placed on examining students’ experiences of discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, and respect for diversity. Thus, focus groups discussed the importance of respecting other opinions and attitudes, participating in the decision-making process, and feeling secure at school and in the local community.The third research area was aimed at suggesting solutions to the existing problems. It involved gaining insight into the application of ideas and activities that would change the existing unsatisfactory situation. The fourth area contained an understanding of the concept of volunteering and identification of the opportunities for volunteering at school and in the local community.
The results of this research suggest that today´s teachers are faced with great challenges. While working with students belonging to different ethnic, religious or linguistic groups they are demonstrating competences much broader that their initial education could have provided them. On comparative level in 4 countries students’ problems and worries are linked most with their academic success, relationships with their teachers, acceptance among their peers, their physical appearance and self-image. Also in all 4 countries there is a strong feeling of injustice related to the problems that students’ experience. Biased grading or unequal sanctioning of students for their mischiefs causes a strong feeling of injustice. Pupils believe that injustice is caused by their belonging to different groups, which is why some have preferential treatment
Based on the conclusions from this qualitative research recommendations are produced and divided in 3 categories – from policy to practice: What can teachers do? What can policy makers do? What can schools do?