Congratulations to Borko for his outstanding digital inclusion efforts, achievements and best practices!
Borko Vujadinovic's Award application:
Demonstrated expertise on delivering digital education, and on empowering people to use new technologies:
I have been working in International Aid Network Telecentre as IT teacher for eight years now. I have trained over 1000 course participants, mostly members of vulnerable social groups. Some of them have fled the war stricken areas and arrived to our country as refugees, others were victims of torture, some are single parents, or persons with disabilities. There are also members of minority groups among them, people living with HIV, deaf and hard of hearing, unemployed. The list is rather long. Most of them were long-term unemployed, and as a consequence in a hard financial position. It could be concluded that they have made their first steps towards new technologies at the training offered in IAN Telecentre. The courses they attend most often include work in Windows environment, Word, Excel, Internet and e-mail. All courses that I teach are based on ECDL standards and curricula.
Many would say that my job is to train people for working with a computer. I believe that a job of a teacher is more than that. People who come to the training are scared and insecure, often distrustful. This is the result of many hardships they went through, many closed doors, years of stagnation. The most important is to encourage them, motivate them, help them realize how important it is to acquire new knowledge, that it is possible to make progress, to improve oneself.
This can be done only through individual approach and using the potential of work in a group. In other words, in an atmosphere created through the group work and being aware of my accountability for every individual, my job is to be wake up to potential that undeniably exists in every person.
The start is most difficult. Both for the course participants and for a teacher. At these first moments the words of support and encouragement are most important because many participants are ready to leave a course at the first obstacle, and there are many such obstacles at the beginning. At these moments I rely on my experience and intuition in an effort to find the right word, tell the right story or an anecdote for everyone.
I really do believe that if you like your job, working with people, transferring knowledge, the success will come for sure. A success means a person who has made a progress, a person who knows that he/she is able to learn, who does not have fear of the new, the unknown. The result is a person for whom the new technologies are not new any more, a person ready and encouraged to go further. For me a confirmation of a successful work are also excellent results that my students achieve at ECDL tests, where more than 90% of those who take ECDL tests, pass them and obtain an internationally recognized certificate that helps them in further job search and career development.
A huge recognition for me is also a data acquired through our regular evaluations that at least 30% of the course participants that enter the education as unemployed, find a job during the courses or immediately after completing them thanks to the newly acquired IT skills and empowered potentials.
A specific situation where your teaching skills were used at a maximum to achieve the expected results:Working with people who meet with a computer for the first time is certainly a challenge. A reward that, as a rule, comes at the end is the knowledge that a person you have been teaching will have multiple benefits from the skills acquired and also raised self-confidence. The bigger the benefits are, the more significant the success is.
Led by this thought, I chose to describe my work with a girl in her thirties suffering from a severe form of cerebral palsy since her childhood. She is physically disabled, however very intelligent and literate person. She was often rewarded as a poet.
However, in her life she lacked communication with her peers and people from the external environment. Her family has always been there for her, but her need for a more intensive social life was not fully satisfied. Before I started working with her, she had tried to learn to use a computer, but her resistance and difficulties were too big.
The first few lessons were hard for both for us, burdened with a lack of self confidence. I had to adjust the keyboard and a touchpad to her moves, because she did not want to use assistive technologies. Yet, after a few lessons everything started for the better. She practiced working in Word and between two lessons she used to type in her poems that she used to handwrite, she formatted them and filed them in her computer.
The biggest delight for both of us came with the discovery of the Internet. She was happy because of the new horizons opening before her, online information and knowledge that has become available to her, as well as new people that she could meet. I was happy for being a part of the opening of a new chapter in her life.Finally, it turned out that she was one of the best students that I ever had. She was motivated by the need and curiosity. Even today we often exchange e-mails or we “meet” at some of the social networks. IT skills that she gained have made her life richer and helped her feel included in the modern society in which she can actively participate and contribute to.
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