Public awareness about the difference between the needs these orphans have and the support that orphanages can provide has resulted in the appearance of independent organisations that seek to bridge the gap. One such organisation is the Moscow-Based NGO “Step Up,” which currently serves 127 youths, most of whom are current or former residents of special needs orphanages.
Realizing that the disadvantages that these youths face are too numerous to be treated as a whole, “Step Up” focusses on education as a key area where short term successes can lead to long term change.
Within the Step Up classroom, teachers tutor small classes based on lesson plans that have been tailored to each individual student – and focus on preparing students for the demanding examinations that Russian students face after grade 9 and 11, as well as for eventual study at college and university.
Although the focus of Step Up's work is academic, the organisation's staff recognise that much of their students' academic success depends upon more basic personal factors: due to their previous experiences, many of the students at Step Up feel little confidence in themselves, and much apprehension towards the world outside. In order to help their students overcome these problems, Step Up balances its academic curriculum with social opportunities – such as a news board, literature club, and student council, as well as shared celebrations and cinema visits.
The success of Step Up’s approach is reflected by the facts: from 2004 to 2012, the number of students Step Up has been able to help has risen from around 30 to 127. During the period from 2004 to 2010, the number of students who progressed an additional grade has risen from a third of the students to around two thirds, and the number of college and university entrants rose from 1 student to 8 students. In 2010, 58 students passed a high school grade, 17 students advanced a year at college or university, 5 students graduated from college or university, and 7 students found employment.
But the most convincing proof for Step Up's success may be discovered in the words of students like Vitya: “I enjoy studying at Step Up very much. There are many wonderful people here, all the teachers are great. I have never had such a big family.”
To support this promising organisation, ICEF has donated US$3000. These funds will go towards tuition and IT equipment. We would like to invite the ICEF community to join us, and help these youths along their path from dependency to dignity and responsibility.
For more information on the ICEF Education Fund or any of the projects ICEF supports, contact Korinne Algie at communications@
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ICEF connects educators, education agents, work and travel professionals and industry service providers to key markets and networks worldwide, supporting the growth and development of international education and global student mobility.
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