- Hungary, Budapest
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HospiEdu (Kórházsuli) is an individualized learning support programme, partly using gamified, IT-based activities to ensure children prevented from going to school for longer periods, mostly by illness, catch up with their peers and can smoothly go back to school after recovery and complete their studies. It is based on a strong cooperation between the non-formal learning provider, the foundation itself, and the original school these children are enrolled at.
Hospiedu (Kórházsuli) is an individualized learning support programme, partly using gamified, IT-based activities to ensure children prevented from going to school for longer periods, mostly by illness, catch up with their peers and can smoothly go back to school after recovery and complete their studies. It is based on a strong cooperation between the non-formal learning provider, the foundation itself, and the original school these children are enrolled at. Hospiedu (Kórházsuli) offers individualized learning material and personal learning support to children in hospital with somatic or mental illness. The same support is offered to children that are not hospitalized, but undergo treatment or in recovery, possibly for years. These children are officially in a home-schooled status and receive only a little support while in hospital and no support when at home.
The program has been ongoing since the school year of 2014/15 and shows a steady growth. So far, sustainability has been achieved by having sufficient public funding, but on the long run their work should be acknowledged and financed by the state.
The project works with two types of volunteers: type one, mostly university students, work directly with children helping them in their learning, type two, mostly secondary school students develop learning material adjusted to the needs of these children. The basic framework relies on a certain level of cooperation between the programme and the school – most often informal – to ensure children not attending school can follow the curriculum their classmates do. This means that material is developed and introduced individually, according to the needs of the given child. Material developed become part of a data bank and re-used. Their individualized approach makes it possible for children who has already been out of school for some period and severely are lagging to catch up on their studies.
Most of their budget comes from private funding, primarily industrial sponsorship. At the same time, a large part if their invisible budget is volunteering, and that must be considered another way of funding.
Experience of participants show that on the one hand children supported in the programme learn much more effectively than before, but on the other hand it is also a valuable learning experience for supporting students according to their reports. Another important element of success is that the programme is based on peer support that provides peer community experience children with serious illness often lack since they are mostly helped by adults. Success can also be measured in numbers. Since start in 2014 the number of both participating children and supporting volunteers has grow, they started with 20 volunteers working with only 4 children. In the school-year of 2018 – 2019, the numbers were 150 children supported by 265
This is a complex programme that on the one hand directly supports children who simply fall through nearly all other educational support nets that involves their original schools to maintain or re-establish their community links there, supports their teachers and school mates to understand what kind of life situation the participating children are. At the same time, it is an excellent learning opportunity for both secondary school student and university student volunteers in two different domains: school-subject learning and social-emotional development.
They use modern distance learning methodology and gamification as their main didactical base.
The programme uses innovative tools for learning and teaching, but this is not the most innovative element of it. Real innovation lies in the delivery and organizational methodology of teaching and learning that requires a complex coordination among partners.
The provide all participants a digital school bag and use of a Moodle-base platform. They also implement training for volunteers as well as school staff and classes.
As mentioned before, participation in the programme is voluntary. For each participant, volunteers co-design a learning pathway and methodology together, using the expertise and resources the foundation already had built.
Although the ultimate target group is hospitalized children and those away from school as a result of illness, the learning of volunteers is as important as the original goal. Trainee teacher volunteers also report that they can use what they had learnt from other volunteers and by this work in their daily teaching practice later on.
A truly intergenerational aspect of the project is that the parents are always involved, but the foundation considers it more important that generations of students – e.g. primary school students in the target group, upper secondary school developers and teacher trainee volunteers - all learn from each other.
Their main target group is generally excluded from day-to-day schooling with little or no support from school or any other educational player.
Participants are mainly seriously ill, so on the one hand their condition must be taken into account, and on the other hand the foundation is obliged to take care of the mental health and well-being of their volunteers, especially in case of a death or worsening of a medical condition.
School subjects are taught using digital knowledge and skills while psychology also plays an important role in delivery and organization.
Students are offered learning support for school success, and in Hungary transdisciplinary approaches are not present at school.
As it is a NGO initiative and heavily builds on volunteer work, a feeling of ownership is inevitable. At the same time there is a collaborative co-decision making in place among the foundation, teacher trainee students and secondary students supporting participants. Participation for any child is also voluntary and thus based on their own decision – together with their parents.
The programme activities are primarily based on digitalized learning and teaching, and as it is based on voluntary participation and all players have their high level of freedom and accompanying responsibility, it can be considered active digital citizenship.
There is a high-level of cooperation among the foundation, hospitals, families, volunteers and the learners themselves. Funders are also engaged for long-term commitment. According to the foundation, cooperation with schools is the hardest, they are sometimes difficult to engage, but it is a necessity. Nearly each new student in the programme needs the commitment of a new school.
Hospitals contact the foundation or raise awareness of their work among parents of children hospitalized. They also provide possibilities for student-volunteer meetings whenever appropriate as well as internet access. Teacher training institutions recruit those volunteers that participate at teaching material development and supervision.
It is part of their goal that schools would implement mechanism locally for the event of having a student prevented from attending school for a longer period. They also have an institutional level cooperation with volunteers’ home base aiming for a mindset change by understanding the role of learning through teaching others. These are long-term goals with some success so far.
The foundation has a core team of professionals supporting the work of volunteers and schools. They also employ fundraising staff.
The work of volunteers is closely monitored by the foundation’s management team. University student, who are volunteering, also act as supporters and quasi-mentors of secondary school volunteers. Regular supervision is also part of the programme. Each case is discussed by professionals and volunteers on a regular basis.
Success indicators in place are:
• number of children supported
• school success of children participating
• volunteer achievement and experience
• parents’ feedback