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Project: Opportunity of Change For Small Regional Schools

Category: PUBLIC SECTOR COMMUNICATION



Summary

To save small...
Objectives

Research:

-      Stakeholder analysis and mapping; key stakeholders defined: other project
owners, local gove...
Execution

In 2009, when schools were granted financial support, Consultancy carried out the
research and assessment. Educ...
Praising results of the project, Soros Foundation global headquarters have granted
    financial support for further side ...
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Regionalschools

  1. 1. Project: Opportunity of Change For Small Regional Schools Category: PUBLIC SECTOR COMMUNICATION Summary To save small schools across the country Soros Foundation Latvia provided financial support for 53 of them to run change management programs turning schools in multi functional community centers. The conducted research helped to identify key stakeholder groups – other supported schools (project owners), local governments, other schools, educational specialists, educational and regional policy makers – as well as revealed that project managers don’t have enough capacity to manage a communication centrally for 53 schools while school representatives don’t have the right skills to communicate directly with local stakeholders. For the solution a blog parmainuskolas.lv was established, representatives from all schools were trained for blogging and dealing with traditional media as well as mentored to start their communication with external stakeholders. It resulted in a successful platform, serving both for internal and external project communication, having 337 posts and more then 10 000 readers over a year as well as rising media interest for 421 printed media clips. Recognition from UNESCO and Ministry of Welfare was received while Latvia is mentioned globally as the best practice in assessing Soros Emergency Fund assets. Situation According to research in 2009 Ministry of Welfare announced that schools with little number of pupils might be closed down – 241 schools in regions could be facing a close down in a near future. Soros Foundation Latvia decided to grant financial support to such schools in order to develop them in multi functional community centers. 53 schools received grants to implement a year long program of change management. Schools in partnership with local governments came up with different solutions to open their doors to all members of local society and returning life and usefulness to their empty premises. However, their skills of communication were rather poor and there was no centralized point of communication to share the methods and results with other schools, policy makers and local community.
  2. 2. Objectives Research: - Stakeholder analysis and mapping; key stakeholders defined: other project owners, local governments, other schools, educational specialists, educational and regional policy makers. - Research on best solution for creating a platform for communication and sharing of best practice. - Poll of project owners to benchmark their knowledge and skills on communication Objectives set according to the research: - Create a platform, where content (textual + visual) could be shared among project owners and with other stakeholders; also allowing to communicate the best practice - Educate 53 project owners to become successful bloggers - Educate and motivate project owners to build relationship with local media to explain the project through regional publicity - Stimulate Public-private partnership - Receiving acknowledgment from policy makers, local governments Strategy The core of the strategy was to decentralize the communication and instead of 1 communication center, activate 53 “loudspeakers”, i.e., educate and motivate the project owners (mostly headmasters of schools or people from local government) to carry out the communication themselves. That included actively building relationship with the local media, while the national media communication was carried out centrally. Meanwhile, a platform – project blog – was created so that project owners could themselves document events, share methods and best practice After evaluating the level of skills and knowledge on communication of the project owners, it was suggested to organize a tailor-made education and mentoring program to increase the skills and motivation of the project owners.
  3. 3. Execution In 2009, when schools were granted financial support, Consultancy carried out the research and assessment. Educational and mentoring activities were carried out in winter 2010, blog platform launched in April, 2010. Afterwards active communication was carried out both on the blog and with local media. The project continued till the end of 2010. Educational and mentoring phase was divided in one-on-one and group activities. For project owners there was tailor-made educational seminar organized that included training on how to document an event, how to use social media for communicating and how to become a successful blogger. Afterwards a tailor-made manual was prepared with detailed advices on how to use Wordpress-based blog editing system, uploading videos and photos etc. Additionally another manual was prepared that provided basics of press statement preparation and work with media. For project manager one-on-one mentoring was carried out, including individual seminars on blog usage, message development and similar. The whole communication ran for a year, however, the blog is still functioning and schools continue reporting on their success and events. The blog platform is used to share this project in various events and conferences by the project manager Aija Tūna. Documented Results Blog www.parmainuskolas.lv functioning for more than a year with 337 blog posts by project owners and project manager, on average >3 min spent on the site, >10 000 unique visits yearly. The blog is still alive! 421 print publications in 2010 (+ TV and radio, as well as online coverage) Representatives of 53 projects (on average 2 people per project) educated in PR and blogging basics. A proof of this knowledge and inspiration is that some schools have created their own blogs after the seminar. Project has received acknowledgement from UNESCO and Ministry of Welfare.
  4. 4. Praising results of the project, Soros Foundation global headquarters have granted financial support for further side projects related to School project, i.e., documentation and evaluation projects. Latvia is mentioned globally as the best practice in assessing Emergency Fund assets. Locally Soros Foundation has been inspired by the success of blog and initiated using similar tools for other projects. School Project manager Aija Tūna noted that during project implementation blog was a great internal communication tool, creating a tight network among schools participating in the project, however, now the blog has became a collection of best practice and is easily shared in different events and conferences on education. URL Name of the link “Parmainu iespeja skolam” blog http://parmainuskolas.lv/

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