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SPROUTThe need to invest in human capital from early childhood is the focus of attention of the scientific community and of the EU: established this interest, Europe has a very diverse views about the organization of ECEC services and above all about the qualifications requested to staff working with younger children. There is a high diversity in the initial training of childhood educators both in Europe, with countries where educators are requested to have just a high school diploma and countries in which there are paths of postgraduate university, than in Italy where the initial training requested varies at regional level. Moreover, the reflection the quality and quantity of the in job training is mostly absent.
This situation has some consequences: the impossibility for workers to move from one member state to another as well as within the same country, as is the case in Italy; a significant regional difference in the quality offered by ECEC services; a lack of in-service training for educators regarding the skills required in the workplace.
It is then of the utmost importance to stimulate a EU debate on the profile of the educator in ECEC services and on the continuing training. Therefore, the GENERAL OBJECTIVE of Sprout is to develop a strategic partnership between actors of ECEC European system to contribute to the professional development of those working in education of children enhancing the quality of initial and ongoing training through the use of EQF language and developing an experimentation of guidelines for in-service training activities.
The project will be implemented by a partnership made up of four actors: P1, instrumental body of the Autonomous Province of Trento, who has been working in the training of the educators since 2001; P2, who provides a national view at the Italian territory; P3, a children's center who has innovative ECEC services regarding pedagogical model; P4, an NGO that serves as the international coordinator for the services of the Swedish welfare of childhood.
The strategic partnership has 2 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES: developing and disseminating at (inter)national level the qualification of childhood educator using the EQF; working out, testing and spreading guidelines and a model of continuous training for educators connected with the EQF system and aligned with the training needs and the opportunities of the job market.
The most significant activities related to the first objective will be: a desk research to decline the professional qualification in the language of European Qualification Framework and to assign the appropriate level; participatory planning methodologies for the selection and evaluation of workers of the ECEC services based on the use of the behavioral event interview and the situational interview; training and advice activities on the use of the professional qualification and of the assessment tools.
The most significant activities related to the second objective will be: research aimed to highlight the impact that socio - economic progress have on ECEC services in terms of skills required to operators, to the service organization and to the support of parents; processing of the document "Guidelines for Lifelong Learning of childhood educator" in which we will present the results of the researches and included a structured model of modular training; realization of regional dissemination events and events of in service training.
The project will be implemented with a participatory methodology: all outputs will be subjected to a double evaluation process. The first within the consortium and the second done by the external actors involved in the activities and other potential users of the products of the project. The most relevant expected results of the project are the professional qualification of childhood educator declined in EQF and a proposal for a modular in service training coherent with the current developments of ECEC services. The expected impact is to create a critical debate on the importance of standardize the professional profile of this figure in both Italian and international level, and operationally influence the definition of the national repertoire of qualifications giving an operational tool for the recognition of learning. In addition, if the Italian trend is the integration of education for children from 0 to 6 years, Sprout is the precursor of the model that will outline. In the long term, the project will be expanded and the network of associated partners will be the basis to build more strategic partnerships within the ECEC and its operators.

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La necessità di investire sul capitale umano sin dalla prima infanzia è oggetto di attenzione sia della comunità scientifica che dell’UE.  A fronte di questo interesse, l’Europa presenta un panorama molto variegato riguardo l’organizzazione dei servizi ECEC e la professionalità richiesta allo staff che lavora con i bambini più piccoli.
Un 1° modello, tipico dei paesi nordici, Lettonia e Slovenia organizza la cura per la prima infanzia in una struttura unica indipendentemente dall’età dei bambini dove insegnanti o educatori sono accompagnati da altre categorie professionali. Il 2° modello, più diffuso in Europa e adottato in Italia, prevede che i servizi ECEC siano organizzati in strutture diverse in funzione dell’età dei bambini (di solito da 0 a 3 anni e da 3 a 6 anni), queste offerte dipendono spesso da Ministeri o strutture locali diversi. Solo in alcuni paesi, questi due modelli coesistono (Danimarca, Grecia, Spagna, Cipro e Lituania). In Italia, dove prevale il modello “splittato”, sempre più manifesta è la volontà di avviare “il raccordo dei due sistemi per ampliare l’offerta educativa per i bambini da 0 a 3 anni e quella di istruzione per i bambini da 3 a 6 anni”.
Riguardo i profili professionali degli educatori nei servizi ECEC si nota un’alta disomogeneità rispetto alla formazione iniziale sia in Europa sia sullo stesso territorio italiano ed è per lo più assente la riflessione sulla qualità e quantità di quella continua. In Europa la situazione è altamente differenziata, con estremi che vanno da paesi in cui è sufficiente un diploma di scuola superiore, a quelli in cui esistono percorsi di specializzazione post-universitari. In Italia non esiste un profilo unico della figura dell’educatore della prima infanzia e la formazione iniziale richiesta si differenzia territorialmente. Questa situazione ha più conseguenze fra le quali: l’impossibilità di mobilità lavorativa da uno stato membro all’altro oltre che all’interno dello stesso territorio nazionale, come è il caso dell’Italia; una differenza territoriale significativa nella qualità offerta dai servizi ECEC, una disomogeneità nella formazione continua degli educatori.
Dato questo scenario risulta di assoluta importanza avviare una riflessione comunitaria sul profilo dell’educatore nei servizi ECEC e sulla formazione continua. Questo progetto risponde alla necessità di garantire a livello nazionale e internazionale una formazione iniziale omogenea all’educatore della prima infanzia ed una formazione continua che sia allineata ai bisogni ed alle opportunità offerte dal mercato del lavoro e agli eventuali sviluppi normativi nazionali.

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