The Association for Shared Learning ELA
has begun the establishment of a Green Educational Center at the foot of mount Zvezdets in the Southern part of the Balkan mountain. The Green Educational Center ELA will be a place where, immersed in nature, students will develop their creativity, confidence and analytical thinking. It will be a base where teachers and entrepreneurs will show students how school curricula are applied in the professional field and everyday life. The Centre will feature renewable energy technologies, ways to coexist with nature, and applied artificial intelligence in supportive and engaging environment for informal learning. Kids will take part in various workshops such as carpentry, beekeeping, coding, gardening, cooking, tourist orienteering, auto-mechanics, and sports. We will encourage students to develop a creative approach to life and show consideration and care to every living being. The Center will be accessible to all children embracing their differences.
“We will breathe new life into an old school in the vicinity of Sofia by transforming it into a cozy and hospitable place for children and adults. It was important for us to work with children and encourage them to be responsible to themselves and the surrounding world, develop their strong sides, feel significant, and become generous, successful and happy. We believe that this could be true only in a beautiful, almost fairy-tale environment, which makes them feel comfortable and at the same time challenge their curiosity. We are planning that the Center will be opened in the autumn of 2020
,” said Iva Boneva, Executive Director of the Association for Shared Learning ELA.
How did it all start?
In 2016 we launched the beginning of “School Makes Sense Programme, which aims at increasing the motivation of students to continue their education and improve their perception about their strong and weak sides. The Programme involves regular, voluntary work of sixth-graders with a team of one entrepreneur and one teacher who show them the practical application of the knowledge they have gained at school. The classes led to the better grasp of the school material studied and enhanced motivation for learning. The interactions between children and teachers were improved, the conflicts between students decreased. At the end of the school year summer camps were organized.
Initially they were meant to provide opportunities for upgrading and summarizing of the knowledge obtained at school throughout the year. We planned them as specific places where kids could meet with representatives of different professions they have not had the chance to get acquainted with during the school year such as photographer, psychologist, mechanic, etc.
However, it turned out that there was more to it than meets the eye. The summer camps turned into the most meaningful and precious part of the Programme for the children. One of the principals said: “You can’t imagine what that means for the kids. To travel for more than an hour. To see the sea for the first time. This broadened their horizons in an impressive manner.” Thus we decided to direct our efforts towards focused work with children and youths and we started the building up of a Green Educational Center ELA – in order to bond kids and adults with nature. It took us almost two years to find the most suitable place, where we could develop kids’ skills without expecting from them to know things we haven’t previously taught them to handle.
At the Educational Center we are going to develop research activities and will turn it into a place for sharing best practices among pedagogues. We will further develop the Center as a knowledge and training basis for university students - the future teachers who still shape up their understanding of what skills an educator should instill in her/his students.
More Information about the Educational Centre
What are the technical facilities of the Center?
1. The basic building has two floors covering 1000 sq. m and includes:
2. The yard spans across 4000 sq. m and will include:
- basement – service premises for washing and ironing, and a central heating system, which will also provide opportunities for educational practices;
- first floor – a theatre with an indoor stage; a creativity corridor hosting a library and reading corners; two bedrooms; a professional experimental kitchen with a canteen, which will open up to a sunny veranda; service premises;
- second floor– bedrooms hosting 60 people; activity hall; service premises;
- attic – designed in a chalet style with two tourist bedrooms; a hall with a telescope for star lovers; an activity hall.
3. Two-floor workshop covering 280 sq. m, which will contain:
- sports facilities – volleyball, soccer, basketball, a mini-golf course, petanque, human soccer table, climbing wall, rope installations, archery;
- training windmill;
- tree house;
- training gardens with herbs and installations for bio-farming, etc.;
- outdoor wooden stage;
- outdoor furnace;
- compost tumblers;
- glass bee-hive;
- small model solar batteries;
- water tower for garden irrigation;
4. The surrounding area offers many exciting tracks:
- first floor – three halls for various workshops and events;
- second floor – winter garden with plants from all over the world, which can also be used as study hall;
- roof – photo-voltaic system, which will cater for the heating of the building, but will also serve educational purposes.
What are the different stages of realization?
1. First stage:
- Mount Zvezdets /part of the Kom – Emine route/ is close by and will be part of the workshops in orienteering in nature;
- the area allows for organizing bike rides, eco-walks, hiking routes, etc.
2. Second stage:
- Shaping up and trimming of the yard, workshop and first floor of the building.
How it all is planned as a timeline?
- Repairing and furnishing of the second floor and the attic.
- 2019 – in October we purchased the building and its 4,000 sq. m yard due to the support of our partners.
- 2020 – we plan to finish off the first stage of the project and open up the school in the period August – October.
- 2022 – we will complete the second stage and the opening is scheduled for June 1st.
If you trust us like we do that it is important for Bulgaria to have such a Center, please support our fundraising campaign at Global Giving
– one of the main international platforms for donations.
The campaign will be carried out between December 3rd and 31st 2019.
Visit our webpage at GlobalGiving.
The project is supported by America for Bulgaria Foundation.