Shared experiences from Schools for Democracy

Headmasters participating at the Schools for Democracy Round Table Conference in Kyiv, shared their new democratic school practices with schools who have just joined the programme.

Anatolii Pohorelov, school head at school №13 in Sloviansk, wanted to join EWCs National Programme for Education for Democratic Citizenship in Ukraine to change the way decisions were made at his school. He had just recently taken up the job as school head, and realized that previously every decision had passed through his predecessor. It was a challenge to find colleagues who wanted to change this.

“There was no real student government bodies at our school. Influenced by the Schools for Democracy Programme, a new student organization was established, which prompted youngsters to understand that they have a voice as well as a right to initiate things they are interested in at our school. As a result, pupils became more active and open in discussing their problems.”

Serhyi Kutynets, school head from Zaliznytsia, had a different motivation to join the programme.

“We had initiated many democratic activities before. We had an active student government and so on, but it was chaotic. We failed to see the whole picture. Using the Schools for Democracy “School Development Tool", we understand where we are and in which direction to go”.

The school established a working group with parents, village administration and school staff. One of the decisions they made, was to give students the right to speak at teacher’s meetings. They also established a school radio station and a web page dedicated to the democratic school project. EDC and HRE have been integrated in the curricula.

Kutynets has an advice to schools which are joining the Schools for Democracy Programme this year:

“In order to find the right way, you need to get lost. If plan A does not work, you have many other alternatives. It is not vital to have equipment like computers as long as you have the people!”

In Iryna Belova's opinion (School head Irpin school №2):

"The role of the head master is to provide  guidance to your colleagues, give them space and freedom. Giving your staff a possibility to share their opinions instead of giving orders and speaking yourself. One needs to learn to appreciate diversity among the staff as it is dangerous to have people of the same views, who very often claim that everything has been achieved and then there is no development for the future". 

The round table discussions took place within the frames of the Schools for Democracy Launching conference for the second round of the programme on 1 February in Kyiv. 42 school directors from all over Ukraine and 40 Programme  trainers took part in the event which was followed by 5 intense trainings for school teams in Lviv, Kyiv and Kharkiv. Opening the conference, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Education Pavlo Khobzey congratulated the teams on the successful programme supporting implementation of educational reforms and called on the school directors to act as agents of change in their schools and communities. EWC's Executive Director Ana Perona-Fjeldstad greeted the participants and wished luck with their important commitment to democratize their schools.

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