A survey was conducted to find out how the Erasmus+ programme supported participants, and what development opportunities it might present for the players of education among the ever increasing requirements of a constantly changing world.
In autumn 2019, with assistance from the Educational Authority, Tempus Public Foundation sent out a needs assessment questionnaire to public education institutions having their main office in Hungary. The answers given to the questionnaire provide an overall picture of the willingness of Hungarian schools and kindergartens to apply, teachers’ awareness of the Erasmus+ programme and other EU application opportunities, as well as the challenges which those who work in public education need to face on a daily basis and the solutions proposed to overcome them.
Based on the over 300 replies given to the questionnaire, we gained an insight into the pedagogical work of public education institutions, as we received feedback from every county, and the responses equally included the experiences of operators, institutional heads and practising teachers. Hereinafter we are going to summarise the lessons drawn from the over 300 replies we received.
The greatest challlenges during everyday work
We tried to identify those common professional challenges that considerably determine teachers’ work, and may, therefore, affect their willingness to participate in project applications. The answers pointed out that the respondents mentioned various methodological problems, development opportunities and lack of innovation as the most common problems (in 78 cases). This is followed by the students’ lack of motivation, it is interesting, however, that besides this issue, teachers’ lack of motivation is also a recurring issue, as a factor that hinders progress (mentioned overall 64 times). There was also a significant number of responses that indicated the burdens of administrative duties and overtime as the sources of everyday challenges (61 cases). What is certainly closely linked to the challenges mentioned so far, and ranking high in the list, is the lack of professionals (36 responses), as well as the lack of tools and funding (18 responses), which may also hinder the proper development of disadvantaged children (20 cases) or children with behavioural disorders/special educational needs (25 cases). Besides the above, the difficulties of keeping contact with the parents, the opportunities of talent management, as well as the burdens imposed by the changing social and legal environment are also mentioned.
When interpreting the data, it is crucial to keep in mind that these problems do not normally arise independently, but as a chain of cause and effect, which means that each obstacle may generate further difficulties. In this respect, however, we may be optimistic that if we successfully aim at an obstacle, we may indirectly have a positive impact on other areas and obstacles as well.
What could be a solution?
We wanted to know more about what professionals thought could be a solution to overcome these obstacles. Based on the feedback, we can state that among teachers, there’s a particularly high demand for various continued trainings and programmes (101 responses), and they also think that a methodological renewal and learning about various good practices would be of great help, too (69 responses). Another important element is reducing the burdens on teachers and students (49 responses), and enhancing social recognition (according to 28 respondents), also expressed in the rate of financial benefits (23 cases). Increasing the number of professionals and mitigating the lack of funding and tools may also have a beneficial effect.
How can Erasmus+ help?
The responses also seem to point out that the various international partnerships and project applications might offer potential opportunity for the solution, as the practising teachers we had asked listed a number of positive benefits of cooperating with foreign public educational institutions.
They think the Erasmus+ programme plays a major role in developing students’ and teachers’ personal and professional competencies. In some respects, the educational systems of the EU member states show similarities, however the also apply very different elements in their pedagogical and educational methods. The common work with foreign partner institutions offers an opportunity to share experiences and learn about good practices, as well as to integrate them into our everyday educational routine. An international collaboration also allows us to learn about the cultures of other nations and thus to establish a more open and inclusive approach. Moreover, Erasmus+ can be a remedy for burnout, which affects more and more teachers, because besides learning about innovative practices, methodological renewal and mastering project management competencies, the programme also ensures mental and spiritual recharge.
At the same time, participation in the projects has a motivating effect on disadvantaged students and those threatened by dropout, and it allows them to compensate for any disadvantages. Project work with foreign partners also offers an opportunity to practice languages in a foreign environment, and therefore to use them with more self-confidence.
Réka Jakab and Kata Kormos
Tempus Public Foundation
Last modified: 02-03-2021