ECO: two-day workshop on the Theory of Change to build inclusive educational communities in Favara and Palma di Montechiaro

ECO: two-day workshop on the Theory of Change to build inclusive educational communities in Favara and Palma di Montechiaro

On 27 and 28 February, at Palazzo Miccichè in Favara (AG), workshops on the Theory of Change were held, organised by the Community Foundation of Agrigento and Trapani with the collaboration of Christian Elevati, founder of Mapping Change and expert in participatory planning. This took place as part of the ECO Community Education project, selected by Con I Bambini within the framework of the Fund for the fight against child educational poverty, with the aim of building inclusive and generative educational communities in the two territories involved in the project, Palma di Montechiaro and Favara.

The two days represented a moment of meeting and sharing for a wide range of actors from the two local educating communities: students and teachers from secondary schools, cultural associations, scout groups, voluntary organisations, representatives of the church community, and municipal administrations came together to discuss and share their perspectives on the education of young people and the challenges their communities face. This diverse participation made the meetings extremely rich and stimulating, helping to generate ideas and concrete proposals to improve the educational context and address the challenges of the area. Everything took place with a collaborative and equal approach that fostered the creation of an inclusive environment in which each individual was able to contribute his or her point of view and experiences.

After a presentation of the ECO project and the two-day programme, the first workshop session offered an introduction to the Theory of Change, a methodology of participatory social planning that has the peculiarity of starting from the ‘point of arrival’, i.e. the long-term impact objective, and then identifying backwards all the preconditions necessary to arrive at the first one. This was the methodology employed during the two days in Favara to plan the desired social changes.

slide from workshop about Theory of Change in the ECO project

In the second phase of the workshop, the needs previously identified in the survey conducted in the two municipalities in the months preceding the workshops were reviewed with the participants. Using various analysis tools – questionnaires, focus groups and one-to-one meetings – a detailed map of the needs affecting the educating communities involved had in fact been drawn – from the poor associative network, to the absence of places and recreational opportunities for young people, from the ineffectiveness of academic and career guidance activities, to the vandalism of green areas. In re-reading the map, participants shared needs already identified and expressed new ones. 

Subsequently, participants worked together to identify the ‘macro changes’, i.e. the main objectives they wish to achieve. These are as follows:

  1. The school, the university, companies and the territory offer quality educational and professional orientation paths.
  2. The territory offers opportunities for study and cultural, sporting and social growth to young people, in and out of school, during the day and in the evening, with access also free or facilitated.
  3. Families invest quality time and resources in their children’s education. 
  4. Citizens of all ages actively participate in initiatives that promote quality growth opportunities for their young people, directly or through local associations.
  5. The territory cares for, enhances and redevelops public and communal spaces and protects them from environmental degradation and vandalism

Once the objectives to be achieved were identified, the stakeholder mapping phase began, i.e. the people and organisations that can contribute to the realisation of these dreams. Those actors who, by taking specific actions, can generate the ‘macro changes’.

workshop about Theory of Change in the ECO project

The next phase, the most challenging, through the World Café technique and the facilitation of 5 tables, each for each macro-change, led participants to identify those preconditions necessary to achieve the goal, a real path that proceeds in a linear and chronological manner. Concretely, the participants, guided by strategic questions, identified responsible actors and related actions to be implemented in order to achieve the desired goals. Everything ended with a plenary return of the change paths and a moment of ‘celebration’ of the great result achieved. In fact, the two-day workshop generated ideas and concrete proposals, valuable for improving the educational context and facing the challenges of the territory, constituting a first significant step in the construction of inclusive and generative educating communities.

Thanks to the active participation and commitment of local actors, the workshop laid the foundations for initiating co-design tables in the two communities to work together on a Community Education Pact and future initiatives and projects to improve the quality of education and life for young people in the two localities.

1000 750 Fondazione Comunitaria di Agrigento e Trapani
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