The association “Intellect Park” has concluded a partnership agreement with a Norwegian NGO

From January 14, 2024, to January 18, 2024, Maija Burima, the Chairperson of the board of the “Intellect Park” association, and its member, Eva Bogdāne, were on a business trip to Levanger, Norway, within the framework of the Active Citizens Fund project CAPITAL: Capacity for Growth and Further (Co)Operation”, ID No. AIF/2022/KAPAC2/108.

The visit to Norwegian partners – the “Omsozams Venner” association – was filled with various activities aimed not only at exchanging mutual experiences and adopting best practices in the NGO sector but also at establishing new contacts in various municipal, state, and private institutions in the city of Levanger. On the first day, during a meeting with representatives of the “Omsozams Venner” association, including Chairperson of the board Ingebjørg Mikalsen and its member Merete Bøhn-Flatås, the main challenges faced by Norwegians in implementing adaptation and integration measures for asylum seekers and immigrant children in preschool education were discussed. Ingebjørg and Merete acknowledged that Norwegian legislation in preschool education is open to foreigners, as diverse integrated environmental activities, family bonding events, and inclusive programmes for children and parents contribute to successful adaptation in the new country.

Continuing, the representatives of the “Intellect Park” association visited two preschool educational institutions, where they felt openness from every employee and student, all of which were enhanced by creatively and tastefully arranged spaces. During the visits, it was observed that outdoor activities make up a valuable contribution to children’s physical health in both kindergartens, which promotes creativity and bring them closer to adopting an ecological lifestyle. A special impression was gained from observing a group that spends the whole day in the forest and, as acknowledged by the staff of the preschool educational institution, the children in this group tend to be healthier and relatively rarely fall ill. It should be noted that both visited kindergartens are the most popular in the city of Levanger and its surrounding areas.

The next day, the unit of the Levanger Municipality Education Administration, which oversees preschool educational institutions, was visited. During the meeting, the municipality employee Kari Olafsen Aunet introduced the structure of the Levanger preschool educational institutions, the quality monitoring system for teachers’ work, and various international projects in which the Levanger municipality has participated. As a result of one such project, the “Hypatia Room” was created right there in the Levanger municipality building, where preschool and elementary school children are introduced to the STEM field, especially the development of mathematical skills using programming, role-playing games, and other methods.

Further, the Faculty of Education and Arts at Nord University was visited, where the Chairperson of the board of “Intellect Park”, Prof. Maija Burima, outlined the main directions of the association’s activities, collaboration with higher education institutions, and experience in implementing international mobilities. Faculty lecturers emphasized the significant component of regional studies and Sámi culture in preschool education, which is mandatory throughout Norway, and also introduced practical study courses that promote outdoor activities in preschool. After the university representatives’ presentation about the university and study programmes, which prepare new specialists for work in preschool education, there was an opportunity to meet future educators in action – in a drama class where a theatrical performance for children was demonstrated, and in a pottery workshop where students made toys.

After the content-rich programme, the partnership agreement was signed. Within the framework of the agreement, the “Intellect Park” association and the Norwegian organization “Omsozams Venner” pledged to strengthen their mutual cooperation and implement joint international projects. Signing the agreement, the chairperson of “Omsozams Venner”, Ingebjørg Mikalsen, shared about the support provided by Norway and her NGO in preschool education in post-colonial countries – establishing a preschool institution in Africa (Madagascar). This sharing of experiences provided the representatives of the “Intellect Park” association with an impetus for new ideas and suggestions, while also providing confidence that the goal of the ACF project – to develop the organization’s operations and management, enhance the capacity of the association’s human resources for effective collaboration, and further ensure the provision of innovative services – has been achieved, as it was precisely during this delegation that an analysis of achievements, problems, and needs took place, determining the potential for growth by observing the Norwegian experience.

The trip was made possible with the financial support of the Active Citizenz Fund project “CAPITAL – Capacity for Growth and Further Collaboration, grant agreement No. AIF/2022/KAPAC2/108.