SMILE’s International conference "Inclusive Learning and the Challenge of (Un)Shared Values", 2 June 2022, Sofia, Bulgaria

Our SMILE project is coming to its end. But it is not really an end, it is the beginning of the long journey of adaptation of our educational systems, teaching methods and mindsets, in order to respond to all the crises we are going through.

In the last 2 years, schools in our countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Portugal) and around Europe have suffered probably the biggest blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. The way of learning and teaching has changed more in these two years than in the last two centuries. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, the question is whether we have said an discussed all of this as a society, whether we have accepted it with all its pros and cons, or whether we continue to patch up the old paradigm of education with money and programs, a paradigm that no longer exists.

The war in Ukraine and the thousands of children who came to Europe once again showed how far our education has moved away from its main function of caring for the intellectual and emotional growth of children in its territory and its ability to fulfil it. Again, the lack of quick government decisions is offset by dozens of charitable causes. Through donation campaigns and volunteer initiatives, people took care of those in need.

As organisations dealing with education and children, we are completely "sucked" by the situation. Some of us have turned their offices into educational centres for Ukrainian children, funded by donations, and we are working daily to support the refugee families in all possible ways – from organising housing to offering phycological support and community building, again through donations.

Finally, as a start to an honest conversation about (un)shared values.

Children's stories and children's games have always played a key role in helping the child understand the world in which he lives and prepare him for the future, and the children we work with play games and tell stories that should make us, the adults, think deeply about the world we have created for them.

That is why we invite you to share your (un)shared values ​​for education and together, without accusation and constructively, to seek meaningful solutions. The first possible moment is June 2, 2022 at the SMILE’s international conference "Inclusive Learning and the Challenge of (Un)Shared Values".

The conference will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria and is the closing event of our amazing 42-month project “Scaling up the Model for Inclusive Learning in Europe (SMILE)”, supported by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme, implemented by the Association for Shared Learning (Bulgaria) – leading partner, ARCIL (Portugal), Four ELEMENTS (Greece), and Fundatia EuroEd (Romania)

Registration is required; places are limited. The conference will be face-to-face with no live streaming option and is open to anyone with a registration who is willing and able to cover his/her expenses for travel and accommodation (if applicable).

Looking forward to seeing you at the Conference!




08:30-09:00 -- Registration

09:00-09:15 -- Presentation of the SMILE project, the Model for Inclusive Education and the e-course "Inclusive Education". The project for the development of an inclusive school environment in Europe expanding the "One School for All" model in the partner countries.
Iva Boneva, ELA Association

09:15-10:10 -- Panel discussion: How the Model has been adapted in different partner countries (Greece, Portugal and Romania) and lessons learnt

10: 15-10:45 -- Coffee break

10:45-11:30 -- Useful experience from Romania: Smiles for inclusion
Ms Elsa Gheorghiu and Ms Ramona Stefanoaie

11:30-12:15 -- Useful experiences from Portugal: Inclusive education - from paper to practice
Ms Sylvia Leal, Ms Susanna Lucas and Ms Martha Melo

12:15-13:15 -- Lunch

13:15-14:00 -- Presentation and discussion: Admission and training of children and students seeking or receiving international or temporary protection
Ms Anelia Yotova, Ministry of Education and Science

14:00-14:30 -- Presentation and discussion: What we can do in post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma in children
Ms Borislava Mecheva, systemic psychotherapist

14:30-15:00 -- Closing and next steps
Ms Iva Boneva, ELA Association

15:00 -- Coffee and networking



Elza Gheorghiu is a trainer, mentor and teacher of English and Romanian as a foreign language. She also has a rich experience in international educational projects. Her field of interest covers work with innovative educational methodologies in teaching/training and non-formal education. Target groups for her teaching and training are young learners and adults. A special area of intervention is training special needs children and their teachers for foreign language communication. She is also a member of the pedagogical training team of EuroED Foundation, Iasi, Romania.

Ramona Stefanoaie is a passionate translator; she is also interested in innovation in education and teaching English as a foreign language and has long experience in preparing and tutoring young learners and teenagers for Cambridge exams.

Sílvia Dulce Rodrigues Leal is a teacher for 22 years. She now works at Agrupamento de Escolas da Lousã. She has an Early Childhood Education Degree by ESEB (1999), with specialisation in Special Education: Problems of Motricity and Cognition by ESEC (2005). Her areas of academic and professional interest involve the defense and the creation of an inclusive education, respecting the principles that shape inclusion. For 12 years, Silvia was a part of a Local Early Intervention Team, where she worked closely with families and educational contexts, in order to promote and implement a set of support measures in the social, education and health areas, for children aged between 0 and 6 years. Presently, she works at a Learning Support Centre, giving specialised support to students from age 10 to 16 with intellectual disabilities.

Susana Maria Constantino da Costa Couto Lucas is teacher at Agrupamento de Escolas da Lousã. She has an Early Childhood Education Degree by ESEJD (1991) with graduation in Special Education: Problems of Motricity and Cognition by ESEP (1995)as well as Master's degree in Education sciences by UL (2011). She is a Special education teacher at Portuguese League for disabled people (3 years); provided technical coordination of occupational center and home for adults with specific needs (3 years); was a special education teacher at the Ministry of Education (since 1998); coordinated the Multidisciplinary Inclusion Support Team (since 2018). Currently Susana works with autistic students and with specific language disorders, seeking to promote inclusion in their daily lives in all educational contexts of the AEL. She volunteers as a Scout leader.

Marta Luciana Melo Fernandes is from ARCIL. She has a Degree in Psychomotor Rehabilitation at the University of Évora (2012). Marta is a Psychomotor Therapist in Occupational Activities Center for adults with disabilities (2 years). She does a psychomotor intervention, in a clinical and school context, of children and young people with developmental disorders and specific educational needs. Currently, it is at ARCIL that she performs her duties as a Psychomotor Therapist, being part of the team of the Resource Center for Inclusion, in the school context. Marta is technically responsible for the Impacto+ Development Support Center and participates in several projects related to the inclusion of people with disabilities. She is also a Psychomotor Therapist in the Municipality of Lousã, in the promoting school success project.

Aneliya Yotova is a state expert at the Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria, at the Inclusive Education Directorate. Her work is related to the support and coordination of activities related to personal development and integration of children and students from migrant families, children and students seeking or receiving international and temporary protection, as well as support for personal development of gifted children and students.

Borislava Mecheva is a family therapist. Since 2014 she is a lecturer and supervisor at the Institute of Family Therapy - Bulgaria. Between 2014 and 2020 she was part of the board of the Bulgarian Association of Family Therapy (BAFT) and is dedicated to organising continuing professional development opportunities for family therapists in Bulgaria. She is currently the Chair of the BAFT Ethics Committee.