15. Jul. 2021
The project ”Next to children” reduces educational poverty caused by the COVID-19 emergency through collaboration between schools in the province of Milan and the Volunteer Organization Aleimar.

The project “Next to children” began in October 2020 thanks to the will of Grundfos Foundation to support a different kind collaboration between schools and the Italian Volunteer Organization Aleimar. The aim of the project is to fight educational poverty and to facilitate distance learning during COVID-19 lockdown, strengthening the relationship between teachers and parents in two comprehensive institutes of Pioltello, in the province of Milan. In these schools, the concentration of foreign students is really high, creating multicultural classes. Moreover, greater attention must be given to those students with special educational needs, which most of the time belong to really vulnerable families.

Grundfos Italy and Aleimar have cooperated with these schools in order to reach this ambitious purpose in several ways. The first activity, called “No one left behind” consists of extracurricular support for 45 groups of 6-8 students – with one educator each – which can provide an integrated and complementary assistance to the regular classroom activities.

Language skills are key

Really important is the role of three expert teachers specialized in teaching Italian L2 (Italian as second language) to a hundred students who have just arrived in Italy. Knowledge of Italian influences the possibility to fully integrate with schoolmates and to feel part of the group.

“For many Italian students , it is already difficult to understand all the lessons, so clearly it is even harder for all the boys and girls that come from another country and do not know Italian,” explains Ilaria Ventura, Aleimar project manager.

Improving distance learning during lockdown

In order to face the challenge of distance learning, the second directive of this project has been the development of 6 tailored meetings with teachers focused on improving their digital skills and to bring them closer to new technological learning methods.

Child doing homework

Child doing homework. Photo: Aleimar

Global Citizenship Education

Last but not least, the third road in this path has been the Environmental Education in relation to Global Citizenship Education, with a particular attention to environmental impact and sustainable growth. In class, interactive games on the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals were used.

“We paid specific attention to the topics of water, consumption reduction and on the bond between water and climate. In the gardens of the schools, all students of the classes were involved in the project, and with the support of an agronomist they had the opportunity to build educational gardens and to attend horticultural workshops,” says Ilaria Ventura, Aleimar project manager.

Particularly fun and interesting was a trip to the Cascina Pagnana in Gorgonzola: the students were able to hunt treasures in the greenhouse, visit the pine forest and experience the educational bee hive!

Children on field tripChildren on field trip. Photo: Aleimar

Grundfos employees to teach recycling

When the health situation improves, meetings and visits at Grundfos in Truccazzano on the topics of recycling and savings are planned. The project representatives and some employees will show how Grundfos deals with issues related to environmental sustainability through the careful working methods.

“For example, my colleagues will explain how a water pump works and how Grundfos is able to save energy,” says Simona Ruggeri, Executive Assistant, Grundfos Italy.

The students’ educational path will end with the creation of three murals linked to the theme of sustainability and the environment.

Girl with facemask holding Next to children sign

Girl holding Next to children sign. Photo: Aleimar

What can be perceived both by the good participation of children and by the feedback of teachers and managers is that the project is going towards the goals set. Through this difficult period, schools, Aleimar operators and all the families are recognising the importance of what is being built thanks to the collaboration of Grundfos.

"When you dream alone, it is a dream. When you dream together, reality begins."

About Aleimar

Aleimar is a volunteer organization that supports minors in difficult situations with no regard for differences in religion, race and culture. Find out more