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Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union 

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

BILT BRIDGING EVENTS: IN COMETA THE UNESCO-UNEVOC CONFERENCE ON ICLUSIVE EXCELLENCE

Inclusive excellence is Inhabit beauty

A month after the close of the Unesco-Unevoc international conference “Inclusive Excellence,” which is part of the “Bridging Innovation and Learning in TVET” project on the theme of inclusive excellence in technical and vocational education and training (TVET), held in Cometa April 22-24, there were many insights from the conference on the theme of inclusive excellence.

Promoting new policies for learning, supporting peer-to-peer learning through innovative approaches, and encouraging collaboration among diverse entities from Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific were the days’ goals. “I think they were achieved, through high-level sessions,” said Unesco-Unevoc Director Friedrich Huebler. “When we talk about TVET, we mean a means to achieve economic development, but inclusion can also contribute to this goal, and this was demonstrated on the last day of the conference.

Also speaking during the conference was Oliver Twist School principal Giovanni Figini, who had the opportunity to talk about the concept of inclusion according to Cometa, which passes through the creation of personalized pathways, aimed at letting each young person find his or her own way through firsthand experience. 

In particular, this concept was expressed in relation to the MiniMaster, a free short course of professionalization for young people in the hospitality sector, aimed at combating school dropout and facilitating their entry into the world of work. A modality that fits well with the theme of inclusivity in training covered in the conference, recounted also thanks to the testimonies of Francesco Baroni of GiGroup Holding and Bianca Passera of Lario hotels, valuable partners in the project.

Many moments of discussion that gave everyone present the opportunity to reflect on inclusive education, also taking cues from the other international realities that came to Como. The first day, dedicated to inclusive excellence, highlighted the policies of various continents to pursue inclusion in technical and vocational education and training pathways. 

Sophia Ashipala, director of education in the African Union Commission, spoke, presenting actions put in place for increased education in Africa and increased access to lifelong learning, with a particular focus on encouraging young people to be job creators and not just seekers. So did Paryono Paryono, representing the ASEAN TVET Council, emphasizing the need to incorporate inclusive and quality education into national policies. 

Concluding with Isabelle Le Mouillour, director of the International Division of Comparison, Research and Monitoring of Vocational Education and Training, who emphasized the challenges ahead and the need to make VET a driver of change for learning that is increasingly connected to the world of work. 

Ample space was also given to students and their testimonies.

Another important theme was collaboration to achieve excellence in technical and vocational education. Introduced by the speech of Minister of Labor Tiziano Treu on the challenges of digital transition and the need to reduce the so-called “digital divide” by providing everyone with the same opportunities, it continued with tables that reiterated the need to network, to support each other, with the aim of increasingly putting people at the center, including anyone who starts from a disadvantaged situation. 

Particularly interesting were the various “case studies” exhibited by international realities that deal with social inclusion: from the inclusion of students with disabilities in Sri Lanka thanks to a specific program, to the actions implemented in Zambia, between the removal of architectural barriers, the provision of tools suitable for students with difficulties and small tricks to be taken during classes and exams, to pursue equity. 

A very similar approach to that of Cometa was that exhibited by Sari Rehell of Omnia (Finland), where children in disadvantaged situations or school dropouts can follow personalized pathways in a nonformal environment.

The Unesco-Unevoc international conference was also an opportunity to announce a new ITS pathway to complete the professional construction supply chain. It will be based in Merone, at Holcim, and will consist of a two-year post-diploma advanced training course aimed at acquiring the skills needed to enter the job market. “It is a relevant sector for our area, which preserves an ancient tradition of stone, wood and marble craftsmen, who have built beautiful cathedrals and palaces in Italy and Europe,” said Francesco Molteni, president of Ance Como. “Today there is a need for young people to embark on careers, learn the job and how beautiful and fascinating this sector can be. Not to mention the need to have highly specialized figures who can deal with the continuous evolution of construction systems, thanks to specific knowledge for each technology that is applied.”

It was precisely technological innovation and the Maestri Comacini that Molteni referred to that were the focus of the work presented during the conference by as IATH Academy. It is “Time travel lab: Comacini, the Masters of the Cathedrals,” an innovation design lab for future tourism with artificial intelligence, focused on the rediscovery and tourism enhancement of the Maestri Comacini. Guided by specialized lecturers and the companies involved in the projects, IATH Academy students experimented with advanced technology application labs by designing new products and services that increase the development opportunities of digitalization of Tourism.

Three days of exchange, of mutual enrichment, from which new ideas and collaborations will undoubtedly arise. “We want to change the idea of vocational education and training,” concluded Cometa President Alessandro Mele, “The starting point, for us, is beauty. We do not want to teach only skills, know how, but a way of life. To educate is to give life, to get the best out of each person and it is a great responsibility. Let’s all help each other experience inclusion.”

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