Tirza community center does not exist in the formal sense, there is Tirza Elementary School, which is in its development plan (consistent with Gulbenes District Council) in 2010 wrote the formation of the multifuncional center as one of the tasks. The idea that Tirza Elementary School should begin to work as a community center came during Soros Foundation -Latvia initiative “Change opportunities for schools.” The idea gradually matured in discussions about school and parish future development opportunities.
Actual activities and services provided by the school since 2010 comply with the activities of multifunctional center. Its main business is the educational opportunities for all age groups and for different target groups: preschool children and their families (babes school, opened schools – from the age of 2 to 6 years); Elementary Program 1-9th class; distance learning for adults 7-9th class; Learning on Friday evenings and Saturdays 10-12th class. There is provided also non-formal education for children, youth, adults, seniors, women (courses, projects, including funding from the European Social Fund), sports facilities at the gym 3 times a week in the evenings and skiing and Nordic walking opportunities on Saturdays and Sundays. Computer classes and home economics cabinets are used for different inhabitant initiative projects, premises are rented to ensure functioning of NGOs. Also, in the center is provided social support for families – dormitory, day and night pre-school group. Potato Field for School commons.
Center (school) economic maintenance is provided from the municipal budget; implementation of activities – from various projects funds. Whole team is involved in the implementation of activities, but the planning, organization and promotion is implemented by a team composed of management of the school, some teachers and volunteers. These activities require additional time and additional volunteer work, but it also affects wage – jobs in pre-school, dormitory, additional job opportunities for teachers in evening classes, distance learning, distance learning courses and job opportunities. It is hard to calculate how much time it takes – European Social Fund, the Soros Foundation – Latvia project and the implementation of other projects takes time and a serious attitude. It is necessary to constantly think about the sustainability, one project (initiative) suggests the next one.
Participants pf the activities and the organizers are often attracted through personal contacts with the message “word of mouth” – because it is needed to encourage, to fascinate with ideas, to help to pull themselves together and to believe – both when organizing and participating. Locals are trying to work on a process without looking for the benefits for school. School / community center has cooperation with all institutions (culture house, library, social care home, local authorities) and the NGO community, the local church. Forces and funds are combined to impelement initiatives.
Team of activists in Tirza is confident that the multifunctional center is needed – it is evidenced by the fulfillment of an evening school, preschool, interest about coruses, active involvement in projects and forums, feedback have been received for the opportunity to learn and participate in activities. A lot of young people are successfully integrated into the labor market, after gaining experience as a volunteers and education (back to school).
Tirza elementary school director indicated that sustainability of the school as a community center is based on the ability to be diverse, flexible, open; desire and willingness to work with each one; support from the local inhabitants, interest from municipality in the development community (not just sites, but teritorry in the wider sense, not just communications). The biggest surprise at the start had been the confidence and the many new challenges and opportunities for themselves and others.
Since the school works also as multifuncional center it has become open to a variety of needs, not just children, learning how to combine children and adults “under one roof” and common goals. School has become a partner of implementation of lifelong learning to the local minicipality – in the sense that the local authority trusts and appreciates. During this time, in the community has developed another NGOs, NGO community goes along well and cooperates with each other and with the school. In the activities of the center children observe adult in the role of students– it creates a better understanding of the necessity of education, lifelong learning, as well as the emergence of new leaders and citizens’ groups. The general public (Latvian), including copper and official bodies begin to accept the school as a multi-purpose center.
In the near future, in Tirza multifunctional center will be held English and German language courses, computer courses, the implementation of which will be involved NGOs and the young volunteer at school. It is planned to provide courses for existing homeworkers, small businesses, farmers and other stakeholders on trading (selling) options and optimization of expenditures – an application is prepared at the moment of writing (September 2014). In addition to mentioned before also the primary function – school accreditation. School management and support team is committed to continue to learn (find solutions) how to improve remote learning services.
Headmistress of Tirza Elementary School Svetlana Ziepniece, when asked about the long-term future plans, says “Paying bright ideas” and adds that will continue along these lines, will write a new projects and taking action in 3rd inhabitant forum.
Project is realised as part of EEA Grants sub-programme “NGO Activity Support Measure” of the programme “NGO fund” for period 2009.-2013.
Project financially supported by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. Programme financed by EEA financial instrument and Latvia. More about the programme can be found on the following webpages:
www.sif.lv www.eeagrants.lv www.eeagrants.org