Muriel Mayette-HoltzFebruary 13, 2021
The Walls of DionysiusFebruary 15, 2021
Ph. © Siracusa Città Educativa
Is it really possible for a city to become an ‘educating context’, one that complements the places where education usually happens, and that offers a ‘fair’ education of high quality?
The answer to this question should be that it isn’t only possible, but that is it absolutely necessary, and that every city should commit itself to promoting the ideal conditions for learning and permanent education for all people in formal, informal and non-formal contexts, for a lifetime.
The growing awareness of this need on the part of local councils, associations and individual citizens has encouraged the city of Siracusa to become an experimental laboratory for educational practice through the adoption of the “Carta delle Città Educative” - Charter of Educating Cities - a collection of principles fundamental for the promotion of the educational calling of the city, drawn up for the first time in 1990 in Barcelona, Spain. A city is ‘educating’ when it has as an objective the constant desire to learn, innovate, share and enrich, and to make the lives of its citizens safer and more worthy, through methods that are inclusive, fair and sustainable. In these educating cities, work networks and collaborative projects are promoted where participants, especially young people, can have real ‘hands-on’ experience of forms of active citizenship.
"it is absolutely necessary that every city should commit itself to promoting the ideal conditions for learning and permanent education for all people in formal, informal and non-formal contexts, for a lifetime."
In the face of the current complex challenges, these projects promote the development of empathy, of social and interpersonal skills that allow each individual to recognise the other as someone with rights, duties and above all differences and diversity. Grafting these ‘good practises’ onto a community means inevitably using the expertise of men and women who have chosen education, in the deepest most significant meaning of the word, as their ultimate aim. Small but authentic gestures distinguish their lives; for example Pino Pennisi’s insistence led the town-council of Siracusa, together with associations and cooperatives belonging to the network of Friends of the Città Educative, to promote the creation of the Festival of Education which celebrated its third edition in 2020.
The dedication and care Pino demonstrated for the protection of children and young people’s rights and their development through art, culture and solidarity, continues to inspire the spirit of all the volunteers in Siracusa who promote educational projects.
During the 2020 online edition of the Festival, the Bicycle Tour of Children’s Rights was launched, an initiative that aims to make people - especially young people - aware of the rights they have. Through collaboration with local schools, in the coming months a new street plan of the city of Siracusa will be completed which identifies parks and squares which have all been given a new name, including a right and a motto chosen by the young people themselves, and that are linked by a series of cycle lanes. Young people are reclaiming their spaces and feeling they are part of them.
This is the inspiration behind another important initiative that has for years represented the diamond in the crown of Siracusa Città Educativa; the creation of the NaturAlbero at the Urban Center in Siracusa. The project, best illustrated by one of its guiding lights, Rosanna Geraci, involves students from various schools in the creation of an enormous Christmas tree using recycled materials. It’s not the final result that really matters but the beauty of a process that needs a series of stages to reach the objective involving sharing, reciprocity, recognition of the skills of others and oneself, respect.
The Charter of Educating Cities is simply the inspiration for a process that is grand, both in terms of people involved and in its value; it is important to have as a starting point knowledge of all the principles listed in the Charter. This is why, with the aim of designing learning contexts that are truly inclusive and that overcome cultural and communication barriers, a video version of the Charter in Sign Language has been produced, following an edition printed in Braille. The Youtube channel of Siracusa Città Educativa shares many examples of its activities in the eloquent words of the protagonists, giving you a taste of the beauty of the regeneration sparked by culture and education.
Ho studiato e lavoro in Sicilia, la terra che amo. Insegnare è il mio lavoro ma anche una delle mie passioni. Collaboro da molti anni con enti pubblici e privati per iniziative di promozione culturale e turistica, di marketing territoriale. Le mie giornate sono interamente dedicate ai miei studenti e al mio paese d'origine, oggetto di studio e fonte di ispirazione! Ma trovo anche il tempo di scrivere per SiracusaCulture.