Social ProjectGhent, Belgium
TAJO wants to make a significant contribution to the emancipation and integration of youngsters with a socially vulnerable background in Ghent. The initiative TAJO Ghent wants to offer an attractive, varied and accessible after-school educational programme to disadvantaged youngsters in order to increase their chance for a successful career education and diminish the risk for premature school drop-out.
In the Ghent area:
- 23% of children are born in poverty
- 20% of youngsters leave secondary school without qualification for the labour market, increasing their risk of unemployment
TAJO stands for “Talentatelier voor jongeren” which, translated from Dutch, means: “Talent workshops for youngsters”.
TAJO seeks to guide several hundred disadvantaged young people from 10 to 14 years living in the Ghent region in order:
- to give them a perspective on their future
- to support them in standing motivated, with self-knowledge, resilience and self-confidence in life
- to facilitate integration in society by stimulating a positive self-image and developing social skills
- to guard them from demotivation, school failure, delinquency, youth unemployment and radicalisation
Interview with Claudia van Egmond
(Managing Director of TAJO)
Despite all efforts, social vulnerability continues to deny opportunities. To seize those opportunities, they must first be presented to young people.
With TAJO, we stimulate the motivation of young people. The youngsters get a glimpse of what "later" has in store so that they better understand the importance of "doing your best for later".
At TAJO, interactive Saturday workshops introduce young people aged 10-14 to a wide range of professions and the skills and talents that go with them.
Experienced professionals, who act as guest teachers, teach numerous disciplines (care, journalism, entrepreneurship, culture, …). These workshops are conducted enthusiastically and experientially. This way, young people can experience for themselves which fields of study appeal to them and are encouraged to study in a direction that will take them further, at school and in life. TAJO is there for everyone, but with priority for those who need it most.
“Two years ago, we at TAJO identified the need for an answer to the question why families in vulnerability do not progress, and why the children of these families are not assisted in discovering their talents, developing self-confidence, and building an educational network.”
We learned repeatedly that education is a decisive factor in determining what social opportunities and which social environments are available to an individual.
Investing in education is a keyway of improving the prospects of those who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
TAJO aims to provide young stars who are about to enter high school with a decision-making basis for their future. “We accompany these young stars voluntarily on a three-year-journey. During this time, we give them the opportunity to find their talents, discover their personality and develop self-confidence in weekly Saturday workshops in Dutch.” TAJO brings approx. 120 young stars closer to society and supports them on their journey with its approx. 500 Volunteers, Experts, and educational Staff in 2 Locations in Gent, Belgium.
TAJO's experts pass on their passion and knowledge to the young stars in the workshops and provide them with extracurricular knowledge to offer the children a brighter future.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, TAJO was up to the challenge of maintaining the network and supporting the young stars despite the lockdown. With personal and elaborate diploma ceremonies at the families' homes, the TAJO volunteers were able to bridge the time professionally and ensure a constant exchange. Thanks to the small teams, TAJO was able to continue with its Saturday workshops as usual after the lockdown.
Call-to-Action & Future
TAJO's objective for the future is to collectively, all together, help society and establish a concept that will sustainably help ensure more high school diploma completion. TAJO is the only proactive initiative to support children at this important age when they must make crucial decisions for their future. "Children at this age want to know a lot and find their talents, we at TAJO try to support them as much as possible on their way."
The project aims to be copied and implemented not only in the city of Gent, but also in other Belgium and European cities.
Photos © TAJO
For youngsters of disadvantaged origin it is not always easy to have a successful school career. Scientific research confirms that children and young people who grow up in poor families have a much lower success rate concerning education.
In secondary education, they have not only a greater chance of reorientation from general education to extraordinery (specific) education, but they also are over-represented in the unqualified outflow (premature drop-out).