Baseline study on intercultural competence in the university milieu
On 1-7 December 2018, the team of the project Promoting and developing intercultural education (ICE) for pre-service teacher training, by involving a group of sociologists conducted initial needs assessment on the development of intercultural competence in 3 universities, especially at the faculties with pedagogical profile: Moldova State University, “Alecu Russo” University of Balti and Comrat State University. Thus, around 150 students, 49 teachers and 40 managers at different levels were involved in completing questionnaires and a series of focus group interviews.
The assessment will also constitute a departure point for the launching of the project, by offering a general picture with certain specific aspects (contained in the project’s Logframe) concerning the ICE situation in three pedagogical universities. It will tackle the issues trainee teachers from three universities may encounter: managing multicultural classes, with pupils coming from different cultural, geographical, and linguistic regions, as well as specific didactics for subjects with multi- or intercultural themes. The obtained data will be used as a quantitative and qualitative basis for an assessment of the situation, starting with the level of openness for the promotion and implementation of ICE and finishing with the understanding of the importance and need for the writing of a curriculum and didactic materials for intercultural education in pre-service teacher training, as well as for the creation of a training programme for university lecturers in order to develop their professional intercultural education skills.
By questioning students, we estimated the initial intercultural competence level (knowledge, skills and attitudes) of future teachers and outline their individual profile. By filling out the questionnaire the students will contribute though their answers to the conceptualisation of the Intercultural Education curriculum and the higher education teaching programme based on beneficiaries’ needs. By filling out the questionnaire the lecturers will contribute to the conceptualisation of a relevant Intercultural Education curriculum for higher education institutions with a pedagogical profile and the structuring and implementation of a higher education teaching programme, as well as the extension of these concepts into the schools where the students’ teaching practice stages will later take place. Interview questions were focused on the qualitative assessment of curricular conditions, as well as on the existing human and material resources involved in the intercultural education of future pedagogues. We also identified the specific training needs of teachers and methodologists at each university. All of this will be reflected in an ample report, and then widely publicized and exploited, as professional responses allow us to do so, and we are provoking original approaches.
In conclusion, we greatly appreciate the openness of the partners from all universities to engage in the project and to participate in the broad opinion poll, hoping for qualitative and quantitative results useful for the successful deployment of our initiative. However, intercultural competence in educational institutions at all levels of education must be promoted and developed throughout life, from kindergarten to adult education, and the Education Code (2014) includes it in art. 6 as an inherent component of the educational ideal, consisting in the formation of an initiative spirit, capable of self-development, which possesses not only a system of knowledge and skills necessary for employability on the labour market, but also independence of opinion and action, being open to intercultural dialogue in the context of the assumed national and universal values.
Viorica Goraș-Postică, project senior expert