What we learn as kids has a significant impact on the way we understand the world. Our social education starts the moment we are born and is heavily determined by the events of our childhood. Mozaik, a multicultural bilingual pre-school program active since 1998, is designed around this principle. It offers educators, parents and children an alternative approach to children’s socialization in Macedonia.
Mozaik encourages behavioral changes by introducing bilingual education at the pre-school level and focusing on a child-centered pedagogical approach, which includes the development of conflict-resolution skills.
Children ages three to six – the least susceptible to prejudices and stereotypes – participate in the program. Kindergarten staff, parents, and the wider community are also included; the program asks them to encourage Macedonia’s ethnic communities to collaborate, in order to build trust in their everyday relationships.
While Mozaik follows the official kindergarten curriculum, it also adopts a pedagogical approach that is more centered on the social and emotional needs of the children, aiming to increase their self-esteem and confidence, and to develop a positive and realistic self-image. By using modern interactive methods, children learn through games and playing, in a non-competitive atmosphere.
To date, almost 1000 children have attended thirteen Mozaik pre-schools in ten municipalities in the communities of Skopje, Kumanovo, Tetovo, Gostivar, Kicevo, Struga, Debar, and Radovish. Since many of these areas are culturally diverse, it is essential that each Mozaik initiative be carried in two languages between Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, and Serbian, used in accordance with the needs of each community.
As the only bilingual pre-schools available in the country, Mozaik groups ensure that language is not perceived as a divider, but rather as a communications tool that can contribute to an improved understanding between people from different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. More than 30 teachers have been fully trained as Mozaik teachers, and approximately 450 teachers (who work in monolingual kindergarten groups) have received partial training in the methodology of working with multilingual kindergarten groups by the Mozaik model. Mozaik classes are led by two teachers from two different ethnic communities, and have a proportional number of children from different ethnic communities, ensuring an equality of culture and language.
In 2012 Mozaik groups became institutionalized as a part of the educational system in Macedonia. The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy has expanded the program to include three more municipalities, with plans to reach even more communities in the near future.
Mozaik is currently funded by the European Commission in Skopje and the US Embassy in Macedonia. It received funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation between 1997 and 2010, and from the Swedish International Agency for Cooperation between 2004 and 2008.