“MINORITIES MATTER” PROJECT
FEBRUARY, 2023 – MAY 2024
Narechen (village), Bulgaria
Minorities Matter Project is an educational grass-root project created, led, and implemented by Yordan Tsanev and monitored and sponsored by Vox Tua, a nonprofit association passionate about education equality and empowering minorities to achieve their best potential. This project is mostly funded by the “Foundation Intelligent Growth”. The project focuses on providing underprivileged students, ages seven to eighteen, empathetic individual mentorship and tailored group courses in three main areas: computer science, economics, and life-long skills.
The participants in this project are 22 Roma orphans, ranging from 1st to 11th grade, from the orphanage in the village of Narechen. Age range: 7 – 18 years old. Gender distribution: 14 boys and 8 girls. More than 85% of the participants have a very low literacy level.
The goal of this project is to improve the socioeconomic integration of Roma orphans into the labor market through tailored courses in computer science, economics, and social life skills; with the objective of inspiring them to understand the importance of higher education, supporting them to get an entry-level programming certificate, and increasing their chances to get a better-quality job.
The project also aims to give opportunity to the disadvantaged children to pursue careers in the fields of informatics, finance, and human resources. Through these tailored courses, the project will empower them, increase their self-esteem and feel more integrated into their community. The courses will be in computer science, including coding, introduction to Artificial Intelligence, and web design; in finance, including basic economic concepts and putting together a budget; and in life-long skills, such as writing a CV, how to prepare for a job interview and public speaking.
Orphanage in Narechen, near Asenovgrad.
The Team Running the Project
The director of the project is Yordan Tsanev, a 12th-grade student at the Sofia Mathematical High School. He has over two years of experience executing social responsibility projects and teaching courses to children. He also has a strong educational background in economics and computer science and is a co-founder of the Economic/Finance Club at his school. Additionally, he has over four years of leadership experience. The two mentors consulting and supporting Yordan with the project are Luis Lomeli, director of Vox Tua, who has more than 18 years of experience in education and youth development around the world, and Dobromir Nikolov, an experienced computer science developer, and current undergraduate student at Sofia University
Structure of the Project
The main activities of the project are the individual mentorship sessions and courses. There would be two three-hour course sessions per month and two two-hour sessions of mentorship and rapport building per month. All sessions take place every other Saturday.
- From February 1st to March 30th, 2023 the Director produced all the materials for the courses and mentorship sessions.
- From April 1st to September 30, 2023: Computer Science courses.
- From October 1st, 2023 to January 28, 2024: Economic/Finance courses.
- From March 1 to May 30, 2024: Life-Long-Skills courses.
The course alternates from a presentation-based to a discussion-based format. The students then work on exercises and share their work/results at the end of each class.
During the course, each student works with one other partner on a computer, donated by the project. This is a great opportunity for the kids to learn to cooperate with their peers, which is crucial for their further professional development.
Detailed Information About the Courses of the Project
Computer Science – This course introduces basic programming languages such as Java, CSS, and HTML to give an understanding of web development and the structure of every site on the internet. After that, the kids are introduced to Artificial Intelligence such as ChatGPT (chat bot) and Mid Journey (image-creating AI). With the installed Stable Diffusion (image-creating AI) on their computer they start creating personalized websites and expand their previous knowledge about coding. The goal of this segment is for the kids to get an entry-level proficiency certificate for programming, allowing them to get a better-quality job.
Economics/Finance – This course focuses on basic economic concepts. Starting from the concept of saving money, introducing the difference between Needs and Wants, and budgeting. Introducing these tools from an early age will allow the students to create good habits and start on equal grounds with other people when entering the labor market.
Life-Long Skills for Job-Hunting – This course is centered around developing social and interpersonal skills, which will be useful in their professional careers. They learn how to produce a CV, create an e-mail account, and learn how to search for jobs. Later on, they will learn applicable skills needed for a successful job interview and understand basic concepts like body language, dress code, and negotiating salary. Finally, we will cover the topic of public speaking, again, going over body language, speaking clearly, and how to deliver your ideas correctly.
Sustainability of the Project
- Eight new computers: These computers will stay at the orphanage so the students can continue developing the skills they learned.
- The current participants will be empowered and encouraged to pass on their new set of skills to newcomers. They will also eventually enter the labor market and set an example to the new comers.
- Two students from the Sofia Mathematical High School will continue the project with new material and a bigger emphasis on preparation for the older students to get an entry-level coding certificate.