The concept of social capital has been an important component of policy instruments for rural development and local governance for some time. Its importance has also been increasingly recognised in Turkey in recent years. The ERAS-MUS+ programme aims to strengthen local social capital in rural regions of Turkey in order to further develop economic perspectives, endogenous potentials and local governance in rural areas, but also in the related urban regions.
Turkey's rural development policy is set out in the National Rural Development Strategy 2014-2020. This has been adopted since the first period (2007-2013) as part of the EU accession process. Two instruments determine this process: on the one hand, the Rural Development Programme IPARD (2014-2020) for the support of accession preparations within the framework of IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession Financial Assistance) and, on the other hand, the National Rural Development Programme (2014-2020), which is funded from the national budget. The objectives of these programmes are to improve the economic and social situation and the quality of life for people living in rural regions. In a SWOT analysis for the national development strategy document NRDS (2014-2020), a lack of investment and entrepreneurship was identified as a particular weakness of rural areas. Two objectives were formulated: firstly, to strengthen the rural economy by creating new employment opportunities and diversifying the economy, and secondly, to develop human resources, institutional, administrative and political structures, education, local knowledge and social capital. A new entrepreneurial culture should be initiated through the strengthening of rural society and enhanced local development based on existing local resources. The current Turkish Five-Year Plan (2019-2023) also emphasises the importance of social capital in rural regions for regional development, competitiveness and social progress.
Turkish agriculture is particularly affected by all these issues. Improving the agricultural sector and the agricultural organisational structure are high priorities in the objectives of the National Rural Development Programme (RDP) and IPARD. Increased social capital in rural regions should help to solve these problems.
The aim of the project is to develop training modules and a glossary for trainers to organise seminars and courses for people in rural areas of Turkey in order to strengthen social capital. These seminars and courses will be held in pilot regions in cooperation with UTEM, the International Centre for Agricultural Education, a department of the Ministry of Education. So far, there is no curriculum for such training programmes. The new curricula to be developed will be a valuable support for the trainers. The development of adult education programmes in the field of social capital building should not least promote international and inter-institutional cooperation and contribute to intercultural exchange.
The following products are to be created:
- Analysis report for training needs
- Development of teaching materials for trainers working in the framework of UTEM
- Delivery of pilot trainings
- Handbook for trainers for adult education courses in rural areas
- EU best practice examples for social capital in Europe
- Preparation of an implementation manual
In the two Austrian pilot regions LEADER LAG Region Regio V in Vorarlberg and Regio-nalmanagement Oberösterreich GmbH Geschäftsstelle Innviertel-Hausruck in Upper Austria, qualitative stakeholder interviews were conducted and short videos were produced at the beginning of 2022. Each of the four partner countries Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Austria produced two short films on best practice projects. These videos were subtitled in five languages (German, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish) and made publicly available on the project homepage (www.socapitalproject.com) together with the other teaching materials (e-book and learning modules). Two project meetings were held in 2022: 9-12.5.2022 in Evora, Portugal and 20-24.6.2022 in Madrid, Spain.
In the second half of the year, the materials produced by the project team were tested and evaluated by trainers in adult education in Turkey. Due to the delayed start of the project because of the covid pandemic, the project only started in March 2021 and was therefore extended until the end of March 2023.
In March 2023, the final conference will take place in Turkey, where the results of the project will be presented and discussed.
Project start: 01/2021
Project end: 04/2023