De Jutter is a school on the Dutch island of Vlieland, about two hours by ferry from the mainland. It is now the only school on the island after the primary and secondary schools were merged due to the dwindling number of school-age children in the island’s one village. This is a unique situation in the Netherlands, but my no means an exception when you zoom out to a European level. From Scotland to Greece, Finland to Croatia, island schools across Europe are finding ways to provide quality education in spite of their isolated locations and small size. But what could they achieve if they work together?
After various talks with educational experts working on depopulation and innovation, De Jutter began working with Learning Hub Friesland, a Dutch educational non-profit. They set out to find European partners to help them create innovative learning materials which take their island setting into account and bring them in contact with other island schools. This became the iSHRINK project, which in August 2020 was approved a three-year grant under the EU’s Erasmus+ programme.
The iSHRINK project will connect Europe’s island schools with one another to create innovative education based around sustainability challenges. With project partners from Iceland, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain and Greece, the project will have top universities working on education and sustainability work with island schools to cocreate learning materials which place the emphasis on pupils’ active citizenship and the sustainable future of their islands.
Pupils from Vlieland in the Netherlands and Astypalaia in Greece will work with university researchers and other experts to come up with policy recommendations for the future of their islands and schools. They’ll have the chance to present these on a European level in the project’s final conference in 2023. The pupils will represent a larger group of island schools which will join the project and ensure that their needs are truly reflected in everything the project does.
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