Life-Link Friendship schools started on United Nations day 24 October 1987 with the aim to serve young people with a forum for discussions and planning for a better future. A non profit foundation was formed by youth in collaboration with some independent adults belonging to professions within medicine, education and international relations. Since the inception youth have been actively engaged in shaping its programme.
One of the main Life-Link inspirations was the results from international research undertaken 1984-1986 by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Physicians within the field of pediatrics and social medicine studied youth attitudes at that time concerning their future. The results were most alarming. One third of the youth involved in the study were convinced that there would not be a personal future with possibilities to form a family and to have a professional career. The attitudes were the same in such countries as the former Soviet Union, Sweden or the USA. Participants in the study were well aware of the nuclear weapons threat and the ongoing degradation of the environment. Very few of the youth participating in the study had hopes for a better future. Such a diagnosis of despair and lack of hope demanded a carefully planned action aiming at increasing hope and engagement to solve the vital problems of our common Earth. Some concerned physicians feared that the negative expectations about the future would act as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A second inspiration to start the Life-Link project was the "Great Peace Journey" 1985 - 1988 with international delegations visiting 110 governments all over the world discussing international security.
At international youth and school seminars in Sweden 1989, 1992, 1994, and 1995 the Life-Link program has been developed. Boys and girls aged 12-19 have discussed and co-operated with teachers and lecturers in creating the programme. The spread to schools in more than 50 countries on all continents is due to cooperation with educational organizations, youth forums and personal contacts and networking. Life-Link has since its start been in regular contact with Ministries of Education through the Embassies and Consulates in Stockholm and through all national Missions at the United Nations. In 27 countries there is a promotion of the Life-Link project at Education Ministry level.
During the development of the Life-Link project some basic principles or cornerstones have been laid down. These include
* empowerment of young people to work for a better future
* cooperation between youth and adults
* involvement of schools in international communication and cooperation
* focus on the situation and problems at youth´s own schools and communities
* undertaking of concrete actions and projects that will have a direct impact on solving of
* networking with other resource people and organisations
Life-Link Friendship Schools is an independent non governmental organisation which aims to promote contact and cooperation between young people around the world and their schools, through active participation in shared projects, vital for common security in our time and centering around 3 main areas of attention:
Care for ourselves. Life-Link projects increase self-esteem by empowering youth to create a vision of hope for a better world and to take active part in international communication and the development of projects and campaigns
Care of each other. It supports opportunities for youth to create personal contacts with youth from different races, cultures and religions to promote projects and campaigns that reflect concern and care of others.
Care of the environment. It encourages youth to develop a reverance and empathy for all life on earth and develop a sense of responsibility for our environment through active projects and campaigns to improve the state of our environment.
Life-link Philosophy at work
Life-Link Friendship schools is committed to fostering common security. Common security is when we work for security together, not at each others expense. It is a path for shared responsibility for a common future and has three basic ingredients:
The importance of common security can be explained as follows. As a consequence of the tremendous growth in world population and limited natural resources each individual has a growing responsibility for our common survival. Through communication and transport and increasingly shared economics, nations and groups have to a large extent become interdependent. There is a clear need to learn to cooperate internationally, to come to an understanding for other peoples and their cultures, to respect human rights and to protect the environment.
Life-Link School Twinning promotes active participation of youth in projects and campaigns across national boundaries. Youth are empowered to meaningful communicution regarding work on creative solutions to vital problems of the world.
School twinning supports the idea that every individual counts and can be involved in citizen diplomacy to actively discuss and design projects and campaigns reflecting common needs and supporting common security.
The Solidarity Project of this congress is to provide as many schools as possible in the new countries of former Yugoslavia with a friendship school in another European country.
DO JOIN IT!
IMPLEMENTING SCHOOL TWINNING
Hans Levander ( workshop report)
School-twinning (ST) is when a school or a cIass at the school, or a group of students and teachers with a specific interest at the school, officially engage in communication with another school. It can involve schools in the same region or country, but often reaches out to schools in other regions or countries. Participating schools or classes decide the means for communication and if personal exchange programmes shall be included. The themes or topics to be discussed within a ST programme is also decided by the schools involved.
Partner Schools, Friendship Schools, Twin Schools or Sister Schools is when two schools or classes engage in a ST-communication.
Life-Link Foundation. an independant non-governmental organisation with its international office in Uppsala, Sweden, promotes the process of school twinning with support from coordinators in 50 countries.
SCHOOL TWINNING, YOUTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS
A Partner School or Friendship school programme introduced in a school will
* stimulate international contacts and understanding
* increase personal self- esteem and presentation skills
* motivate learning of languages, natural sciences and social science
Youth will be listened to, and take active part in cooperation with youth in other countries, which is in line with the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Within the Life-Link project youth has an important role in creating ideas for programmes and campaigns.
SCHOOL TWINNING AND EDUCATION
School twinning will promote
* intercultural learning
* a "global classroom"
* transfer of academic knowledge into practice
* problem oriented pedagogics
SCHOOL TWINNING AND COMMON SECURITY
Common Security is when we work for security together, not at each other´s expense.
It is a path for shared responsibility for our common future and it has three basic ingredients: Communication - Confidence - Cooperation. A school twinning programme will facilitate community interaction, global citizenship, global thinking and local action, the growing of reverence for life on earth, international networking, personal contacts and friendship.
SCHOOL TWINNING AND THE ROLE OF TEACHERS
Teachers play a crucial role in order to keep an ST programme going. A formal support from the school board is important. Cross curriculum cooperation is a natural consequence. One or a few teachers will in reality act as international "diplomats" as they communicate and plan with colleagues in other regions and countries. I suggest that one or two teachers at each school should have part time duty (one day per week?) for ST planning and campaigns. Such an arrangement has been introduced at Newport Grammar School north of London; the school is now considered most attractive because of its international curriculum and ST contacts in several countries.
SCHOOL TWINNING, PROGRAMMES AND NETWORKS
A partner school relation will profit from serious" communication, topics and campaigns.
Some examples: environmental issues, including water research cooperation, human rights, conflict resolution.
By joining a regional or an international network focusing on a specific issue, pedagogics will
be easier and the feeling of togetherness will increase.
Some examples of such networks are The Baltic Sea Project and the Blue Danube Project, both
initiated by UNESCO, GREEN (Global Rivers Environment Education Network) from USA. Earth-Friendly Schools from Hawai, Life-Link Friendship Schools from Uppsala, Sweden, the GLOBE program initiated by vice president Al Gore, USA and Care-takers of the Earth with a recent conference in Scotland.
SCHOOL TWINNING AND REGIONAL OR GLOBAL CAMPAIGNS
Specific days have been appointed for common international actions like the Earth Day, the
United Nations day, Womens day etc. Within a ST program such days can be highlighted and the projects performed can be presented and discussed within a partner school communication. One or a few students + teacher/s + parent/s may even visit the partner school during such an event. Life-Link now runs an International Day of Environmental Action and Service in October where local actions are going on at schools all over the world. The Earth-Friendly Schools" have similar campaigns.
SCHOOL TWINNING WITH SCHOOLS IN WAR / CRISIS RIDDEN REGIONS
After a war or a geographical catastrophe or an environmentally polluting accident, youth and schools will suffer in different ways. Specific support from the outside region can be crucial for survival. Partner Schools can serve such a function. During and after this congress Teachers for Peace and Life-Link will in cooperation try to pair as many schools as possible in all the new countries of the former Yugoslavia with a friendship school in another European country. We have already started in Sarajevo and both the Bosnian and the Swedish schools have great experiences of their cooperation. Such programmes can be extended into other regions of the world, preferably in a crisis preventive way. Such ST can play an important role in conflict resolution programmes and will be a part of the new global security thinking.
SCHOOL TWINNING, ECONOMY AND FINANCING
A ST programme must carefully plan for economy and finances. Much can be done with enthusiasm and devoting some extra time for local activities. Personal exchange programmes and participation at conferences etc requires money. Fundraising has to be planned from local funds, shops and manufacturers, relatives, community, organisations like Rotary-Lions-Soroptimists etc, environmental organisations, activity days etc. Some awareness of Project management is very valuable if you want a successful outcome. Success will inspire future activities!
SCHOOL TWINNING - SOME CONCLUDING SUGGESTIONS
* Introduce school twinning at your school, try to find one partner school in a neighbouring country and one in a distant country!
* Appoint one teacher at the school, responsible for and coordinating "international school programmes"!
* Join a regional or global annual school network campaign! A water programme including your river or nearest sea opens up a wide cross curricular field of activities.
* Twin with a school in a war ridden region!
* Could school twinning be a characteristic feature of Teachers for Peace in the future?
* Contact Life-Link Foundation, Upsala Science Park, S-751 83 UPPSALA, Sweden. Fax: +46 18 50 85 03 Tel: +46 18 50 43 44.
Friendship School Manual sent on request!
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