The Board of Trustees of the Jacobs Foundation has approved a second phase of the Educational Landscapes Switzerland program, paving the way for its nationwide expansion (from 2014 to 2018) with the addition of 15 new local educational landscapes. The Board’s decision was based on the positive results of an external evaluation and the interest shown by numerous Swiss cantons. The foundation is allocating 2.5 million Swiss francs for this second phase. Investment in the program’s two phases will total 6.5 million francs.
The first phase included three projects in each of the cantons of Basel, Fribourg and Zurich. Those three cantons are also involved in financing their Educational Landscapes projects. In the second phase, unlike the first, communities, city districts and regions will be able to participate directly – provided that their respective cantons support the program’s concept – and they will be responsible for obtaining cofinancing.
A survey by the Jacobs Foundation, which launched the program, has shown that 16 cantons favor creating educational landscapes. The process of selecting new projects is now underway in those cantons. Prospective project teams will be invited to attend feasibility workshops in September 2014, and in October the program’s national steering committee will select 15 new educational landscapes projects.
Interim report on the evaluation of Phase I (2011 to 2014)
The positive decision by the Jacobs Foundation Board of Trustees was strongly influenced by the interim report submitted by the foundation’s external scientific partner. As part of a research project, the IBB Institute for the Management and Economics of Education at the Teacher Training University of Central Switzerland in Zug is evaluating the Educational Landscapes Switzerland program.
In the first evaluation phase, the institute concluded that all nine projects had been launched successfully in the course of the program’s first year, and that the respondents were extremely satisfied. The initial phase of the projects was devoted primarily to conceptual and organizational tasks, such as drawing up project plans and putting in place the necessary structures. These efforts required a major time commitment, but the participants are highly committed and motivated. Nearly all of the projects have now formulated clear goals. Seven are concentrating on helping disadvantaged children make a successful transition to primary school; among the projects’ critical elements are support for language skill development and educational programs for parents. The remaining two projects are focusing on young people, and specifically on the transition from school to vocational training. Networking with local businesses plays a significant role in this context.
The respondents reported good cooperation with both new and existing partners. They have been able to establish new contacts and strengthen existing relationships. It is also apparent that these successful partnerships are sometimes perceived as labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Most of the projects have not yet demonstrated a measurable impact on children and youth. However, with respondents reporting a “high” or “very high” level of satisfaction, and given the importance they attach to sustainability, it is clear that progress is being made in the sphere of educational activities.
Local educational landscapes – Education involves more than schools
Swiss society is becoming more and more heterogeneous as a result of immigration, globalization and demographic change. Providing equal educational opportunities for all is a growing challenge. It is becoming increasingly important to combine education within and outside the school context and to create systems to facilitate cooperation.
With its Educational Landscapes Switzerland program, the Jacobs Foundation encourages systematic cooperation between schools and extracurricular educational programs, with the goal of forming local educational landscapes to provide young people with better opportunities for education and development. Beginning in October 2014 and continuing until 2018, the program will be adding 15 more projects and testing a variety of models of local educational landscapes, with the goal of demonstrating their positive impact on the development of children and young people.
The Foundation is working together with cantons, municipalities, associations and experts to encourage innovations in the Swiss educational system.
Comprehensive information about the Educational Landscapes program can be found at www.bildungslandschaften.ch