Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Blue Star Program.

http://www.bluestarprogramme.ie/ What is the Blue Star Program?

The Blue Star Program aims to foster better understanding and knowledge of the European Union among pupils in Irish primary schools through classroom projects and activities.

Beginning with a pilot year in 2011, the program has been run for four successful years to date and is now entering its fifth year in 2015-2016. Blue Star’s goal is to lessen the information and communication deficit that exists about the EU and how it affects the lives of Irish citizens among this key demographic in Ireland. 

 It’s no exaggeration to say that, year on year, the program succeeds in fostering a strong sense of citizenship and knowledge of Europe among its participants - be it a small, rural 20 pupil school in Westmeath or a 1,000 pupil school in Dublin – and that this sense of ‘belonging’ and knowledge extends far beyond the school walls into wider local communities.

The Blue Star Program is a venture of the Communicating Europe Initiative, supported by the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs in the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Education and Skills, the European Commission Representation in Ireland and the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland. European Movement Ireland has acted as the National Implementation Body for the program since its pilot year in 2011.

What’s involved in the Blue Star Program?

The Blue Star Program asks teachers and pupils to carry out projects and tasks related to the History, Geography, Culture and Institutions of the EU.  There is a huge amount of flexibility in the program and schools are encouraged to get creative in their interpretation of these key elements and the way in which they can be fulfilled.  

History projects can be related to a significant European event or a pivotal person in European history, for example. Geography projects may focus on a specific EU country where the children can learn about that country’s population, language, similarities with Ireland, etc. Cultural projects can look at food, places and art of Europe, while Institutional projects teach pupils how the EU works and how the different European Union institutions co-operate with each other in accessible and fun ways.

The hard work that the pupils put into their projects culminates on Europe Day (9th May each year) when schools are supported and encouraged to exhibit and showcase these projects to parents and the wider community.

Schools that successfully complete the Blue Star Program are awarded two Blue Star certs and a Blue Star flag to mark their participation in the program. Pupils and teachers that have taken part in Blue Star cite it as a highlight of the school year, and we have schools who sign up year after year to take part and interpret the program in new, fresh and exciting ways.

Why get involved in the Blue Star Program?

To date, over 400 schools and approximately 35 - 40,000 children have participated in the programme. Last year the Blue Star Program was active in 175 Irish primary schools, interacting with almost 15,000 students in every corner of the country.

Its success didn’t stop there either; following a nomination in 2014 by Ireland South MEP, Mr. Sean Kelly, hundreds of Irish national school teachers who are involved in the Blue Star Program were made joint Irish winners of the prestigious European Parliament’s European Citizen’s Prize at an awards ceremony in Brussels in February 2015.

Article via the European Movement of Ireland and the Program's website.

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