NGO Mondo and Marek Kakaščík

"We believe that education for becoming a global citizen
should start as early as possible."

In the times of global pandemic, climate crisis, mass migration, the rise of extremism and environmental collapse we need the next generation to have greater resilience, empathy, and respect for the people and environment that surrounds them. Our organisation has been successful in engaging educators and students from primary to high school levels but so far we have not focused on the preschool age group that much. There are few GCE teaching materials for kindergartens to be found in Estonia and many of the early childhood educators don't feel confident in handling these topics. To amend that, we are currently running a project to create GCE teaching materials and training for preschool teachers.

Our idea for Bridge 47 innovative project is to produce a GCE themed animation for children aged 5-7 that will be a part of the above-mentioned teaching material. The animation will use artistic imagery to capture children's imagination and help them understand complex ideas such as human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity, climate change and/or the importance of environmental protection. We find animation to be an engaging and age-appropriate tool to help young children better understand the world around them and begin to comprehend these complex challenges. Hopefully, the audio-visual language of animation is captivating to children and will be an invaluable tool to bring these topics closer to them.

Illustrator Maari at work
Illustrator Maari at work

The animation will be an addition to a printed teaching material that consists of 10 topics (human rights, cultural diversity, education, health, water, food, migration, gender equality, environment, and climate change). Each topic is accompanied by a short children's story, illustration and teachers' manual with activities about the topic. The teaching material follows a project-based learning method and is compatible with the national curriculum here in Estonia.

We will use funding from Bridge 47 to create one 3-minute long animation that introduces the characters and serves as kind of a “movie trailer” for all of the topics in the teaching material. The main characters of the animation are a small girl called Amanda and her imaginary friend, an elephant. Amanda is the same age as the children who the animation is meant for. She has a curious mind and an innate sense of justice but at the same time, she can also occasionally be inexperienced and a bit self-centered. Therefore the students can learn from her mishaps and adventures and develop their understanding of the world together with her. In the stories she is engaging with people from different cultures, learning about harmful stereotypes and the importance of respect in intercultural interactions, getting to know about some of the most imminent environmental challenges and the small steps that each person can take to make a difference.

Character design for Amanda
Character design for Amanda

Illustrations for these stories are created by artist Maari Soekov whose mystical and detailed drawings are perfect for creating curiosity for the world in young children. We work together with an animation company BOP! to digitise the illustrations and use them for making the animation.

For this animation, we chose the storyline of cultural diversity and concentrated on the topic of sports that children all over the world love. In the story, Amanda aspires to become a world champion at sports and by meeting great athletes from different parts of the world she instead learns that love and respect for others and the sport that you are doing is more important than winning.

For now, we have the plot of the animation confirmed, initial illustrations and storyboard in place and are starting work on drawing out all the necessary characters, sets and backgrounds to start animating. By the end of May, we hope to have the whole animation ready to share it through social media with children and teachers all over Estonia.

About the Author

NGO Mondo

NGO Mondo is an independent Estonian non-profit organisation devoted to development cooperation, global education and humanitarian aid.

Marek Kakaščík

Position: Innovation and Communications Trainee
Marek assists Bridge 47 with the national work in Slovakia and with communications of our sub-granting mechanism.