The peripheral unit of Florina belongs to the region of Western Macedonia. It includes three municipalities (Florina, Amyntaio and Prespa), with a total population of about 55.000 inhabitants. The capital of the region is Florina. It borders with F.Y.R.O.M. and Albania.
The residents, as a majority, deal with agriculture and public services. According to recent tax office statistic information about the whole Greece, the inhabitants of Florina have been declaring the second lowest income in the territory. Over the last decade, there has been a decline in the primary sector and unemployment has been raised. There has also been a major campaign to enhance its natural and historic resources, which increasingly become a popular tourist destination, not only historically but also sporting and environmental (ski centre of Vigla, the archaeological museum of Florina, Prespa National Park etc.)
Schools and educational authorities try to keep up with the demands of the area in order to provide our future citizens with the necessary qualifications. The school community includes almost 7800 both primary and secondary education students, 200 of them being foreigners, 9 repatriates, and 35 Roma. There are 45 pupils are in need of special education. There are also integration classes in 15 primary schools και 1 Support Class (Greek as a second language). There is also a Second Chance School with an increasing number of students, which denotes the need to adjust to new market circumstances.
There is also a University; Faculty of Education (Primary and Preschool Education) and two independent departments: Balkan Studies and Applied and Visual Arts.
There is also the Technological Educational institute of Florina with three departments which are: Marketing and Quality control of agricultural areas, Animal production and Plant production.
The territory of Dobele Municipality covers 890 km². The total population of Dobele Municipality is 23.683 (census 2012). Dobele Town has about 11.000 inhabitants. The administrative centre of the municipality is Dobele Town. It is located on the banks of the Berze River, 72 km from Riga, the capital of Latvia.
Dobele and its neighbourhood were first inhabited in the Stone Age. The archaeological excavations gave evidence about a settlement - an ancient town - next to the Castle Mound in the 1st century B.C. The first written records about Dobele were dated in 1254, when Dobele was first mentioned in the Act of Division of Semigallia, among the Livonia Order, the Archbishop of Riga and the Riga Dome Chapter of Priests.
Latvia has a multi-ethnic society with representatives of more than 150 nationalities. The Latvian nation was formed through centuries, alongside with the existence of the Baltic German, Russian, Jewish, Polish, as well as Estonian and Lithuanian communities. Today, there are 26 educational institutions in Dobele County and children of different nationalities are integrated in every kindergarten and school.
Many people of Latvian population live below the poverty line or in social exclusion. This is one of the main reasons why students lose their motivation to learn, drop out school, even without obtaining compulsory education. Seven schools of County have included children with mental, learning or physical disabilities and behavioural disorders.
The county's cultural heritage and art are not included in the school’s curriculum. Often, art lessons at primary school seem weak, because teachers have no knowledge of the new methods of drawing. Often lessons are formal, students’ drawing skills are deficient. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why young people's attitudes towards the cultural heritage of the region are not sufficient.
We believe that the participation in this project will give teachers the possibility and motivation to increase their knowledge and will make the teaching process more diversified. Students tend to lose their connection with their traditions and culture, adopting global stereotypes uncritically. There are several difficulties in teaching students with different cultural backgrounds and it takes more time to introduce them to the local context of the topic.
The Latvian educational policy is powerless to inspire teachers to introduce students in art education. Although local authorities promote our cultural events, our students have a low sense of what local painters represent.