Good Morning everyone I would like to tell you this morning about an exciting project which everyone in our school can be involved in. It is called The Comenius Project and involves not just everyone in our school but also boys, girls and teachers in 4 other countries across Europe. That’s why the special European Flag a blue background with 12 golden stars is displayed on this slide. It is called The Comenius Project after a very special man, Jan Amos Comenius who lived over 4 hundred years ago, he was born on the 28 th of March in 1592 and worked in schools across Europe including Czechoslovakia, Sweden, England and Holland. In fact pupils and teachers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia still celebrate his life and work today on the date of his birth the 28 th of March with a special day called“Teacher’s Day”.
If Comenius was around today he would see a lot of changes in schools. We have alot more books, loads of new equipment like interactive white boards and computers that I’m sure even Comenius could never have dreamed of, but some things have not changed at all – we still come to school to learn new skills and most importantly to make new friends. So the most important part of our Comenius Project is to make new friends. Friends from far away in countries across Europe and to keep in touch with these new friends we are all going to learn a new skill we are going to learn how to blog! And through our blog we will be able to see what our new friends are doing in their schools and we can tell them about what we are doing here in St. Mary’s in Mullaghbawn.
You can see from our map that there are many countries in Europe and we are only a tiny little island out in the Atlantic ocean on the western edge. Europe covers an area of approximately 4 million km ² and there are over 500 million people living in Europe. Some counties are really big and others like ours is really quite small, some are islands while others are completely land locked and have no coastlines at all. We might all speak different languages and go to different schools with different rules but underneath we are all the same, we want to have and make lots of friends to share our learning and playtimes with. Now we are going to have a quick look at the counties we will be working with in our project.
The 1 st country is the Czech Republic where Comenius came from. You can see some information about the Czech Republic on the slide, There are about 10 million people living there. It’s flag is red, white and blue and it joined the European Union in 2004. It is right at the centre of Europe surrounded by other counties.
Next is Ireland our country but we are not the only Irish school in the project, a school from Donegal in the Republic of Ireland is also joining with us in our project. This is really exciting because it means that one of the schools is quite close to our school and we can meet up some times so that boys and girls from some classes will get the opportunity to work together and visit each others schools. You can also see from the slide lots of information about Ireland like that there are only about half the number of people living in Ireland just 4 and half million compared to about 10 million in the Czech Republic. You can also see many symbols and emblems which you might recognise as being associated with Ireland, St. Patrick, High crosses and Round towers which you see scattered across our countryside, also Irish wolf hounds and famous Irish writers, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw. You can also see that Ireland joined the European union in 1973 and is one of the European countries that uses the Euro. You can also see how to say “hello” in Irish Dia Dhuit. And where the capital Dublin is on the map in both Irish and English.
The third country is Poland and is much bigger than Ireland which was only 70,000 km ² whilst Poland is 312, 700km² and has over 38, million people living in it. It joined the European Union much later than Ireland in 2004 . And you can also see how to say Hello in Polish and symbols associated with Poland. Farming is an important industry and growing crops such as potatoes which is something Poland has in common with Ireland.
The next slide is Northern Ireland which represents our school. As many of you know even though we live in Ireland and are part of the island of Ireland and we believe ourselves to be Irish, we are politically still apart of the United Kingdom. And therefore we have some different laws and rules to the Republic of Ireland.
Understanding about our situation here in Ireland helps us to identify with the people of our last school, the Basque school. The Basque country is an area of Spain where the people just like us in Northern Ireland hope on day to have their own Basque country and rule themselves . They have their own language, their own flag and own National anthem all different to those of their Spanish neighbours in just the same way we have our flag, the tricolour and the Irish language and National anthem all different to those of the United Kingdom.
As I have said we will be bloggin with our friends in all of these different places and that means we will be posting comments on line through a web page which only people involved with the project can access. To launch our blog we are having a competition between all the pupils, in all the schools, Poland, Donegal, The Basque Country The Czech Republic and here in St Mary’s in Mullaghbawn, to design a logo to represent the project and this will become the official logo of the project and will be displayed on all the blog pages in all the different countries. So what is a logo? It is a picture or symbol that represents some information. So when we see the symbols on the slide showing we immediately associate them with an association or place. So for example the blue flag with the gold stars we know means Europe. The green plant is the shamrock the emblem of Ireland. When people carry the red, blue and white flag we know they are supporting or are from the Czech Republic. The white bird wearing a golden crown is a symbol of Poland. What you have to do is design a symbol which represents all the countries taking part in the project you can use flags, national emblems, sport, food national costume, famous people or buildings or a combination of a number of these so long as every country and the project is represented in your drawing. The winning design form each year group will then go through to the second round where they will compete against the winning designs from our school and an overall winner from key stage 1 and 2 will be chosen to represent our school at the next level of the competition were all the winners form each school will be scanned into the web page and everyone in all 5 schools will have the opportunity to vote and choose the overall winner to represent the project.