IMC Weekend School in Figures. Click on image for full size.
IMC Weekend School, founded in 1998, introduces children aged 10 to 14 from disadvantaged neighborhoods and often of migration background to the world of work through passionate professionals acting as volunteers. It has 10 schools throughout the Netherlands. It is expanding globally (Brussels, Hong Kong). In a three-year course, volunteers introduce students to a wide range of professions and topics, including medicine, law, computer studies, philosophy, astrology, and the arts. The curriculum also includes training in presentation, research, debate, and conflict resolution – an allround character education. The goals of the program are to provide students with the skills, knowledge, and audacity that are needed to find a place in society that matches their capacities. The 10 Dutch branches have 1,000 students. Around 3,500 volunteer guest teachers participate each year. Companies and foundations fund all branches.Members of the alumni program – 1,823 in 2015 – encourage each other to persevere in developing their talents, and help teach the younger generations. The school’s research unit collaborates with universities in studies of impact factors. Data shows that IMC Weekend School alumni have better professional prospects, are more self-aware, and feel more connected with society. IMC Weekend School is innovative in that it provides real-life education. It connects youth to passionate professionals, who engage them in their worlds. The contacts created between different social classes affect both the students and the guest teachers.
Context and Issue IMC Weekend School addresses student motivation and the sense of citizenship. All around the world, schools encourage students to obtain their diplomas, but school alone is not enough for students to find their place in society. Especially in underprivileged neighborhoods, a lack of knowledge about society and a lack of audacity to engage may hinder students in pursuing their motivation, and becoming responsible citizens. Motivated, responsible citizens are of key value to both individual lives (health, well-being) and society at large. In all professions – from bus driver to manager to scientist – motivation and responsibility mark the difference between those who can and cannot positively contribute to society. Motivation and social responsibility are not automatically learned in regular schools and they require real-life education.
Solution and Impact IMC Weekend School’s philosophy is that education should nourish childrens’ natural curiosity, and their capacity for motivation and social responsibility. It does so by engaging them in real-life education. Through sustained collaboration with passionate professionals, students learn to understand their options in society, their preferences, the audacity to pursue their talents, and the value of contributing positively to society.
- The project’s main strengths lie in the fact that:
- It is a sustained program, with a long-term impact on children’s’ development;
- It gains vast social support (3,500 volunteer guest teachers per year, over 100 financial sponsors and over 300 in-kind partners);
- It inspires like-minded initiatives, and serves as an example in the social debate about education.
The project’s impacts are threefold:
- It enhances students’ future prospects, audacity to engage, feelings of connectedness to society, and perseverance in the regular school system;
- Weekend School alumni engage in educating the younger generations, and set up their own community projects;
- IMC Weekend School has a sister school in Brussels and one in Hong Kong. In addition, it has inspired over 30 independent copy-projects in the Netherlands.
IMC Weekend Schools’ objectives for the next five years are:
- (a) showcasing the project and its impact (through popular media, films and books);
- (b) explaining impact factors (in academic research reports and books);
- (c) bending the method back to regular education (assisting educators in setting up part-time Weekend School education in their schools);
- (d) (internationally), assisting and training social entrepreneurs to set up Weekend Schools in their communities.