Students at Kostopil Secondary School in Ukraine

Finally someone asked our opinion

The teacher is the dictator and announces the rules. Students simply have to obey. How can that encourage democratic school governance in Ukraine?

Kostopil Secondary School in Ukraine wants to increase the involvement of parents and students in the development of school rules. By doing so the school hopes to increase the self-esteem of the students and their sense of responsibility towards the school community. After participating at the EWC training seminar Democratic Governance of Schools, they set out to implement the “School Constitution” project.

First they carried out a survey to find out what school rules students and parents desired. Thereafter they carried out a training called “My life is my own responsibility”. The participants at the training played a game where one of the teachers was a state leader and the students were the people.

The Leader announced the rules in “his” state: once he said “the people”, all had to rise, once he said “The Leader”, the people had to bow three times, when he said “the state” all had to turn to the sun. If the rules were broken, the perpetrator was sent to jail.

As the game progressed, the teacher started mentioning these key words more and more often, and sending more and more people to jail. At a certain point, another teacher intervened and urged the people to revolt and protest against the rules imposed on them.

This provided a basis for reflection on the game and how states are governed. It also provided a good starting point for discussions on the rules of the school and the results from the survey.

The students voted on every rule to determine whether they considered it relevant or necessary. At the end they prepared a collage on “My future school”, describing how the school would be once the new rules were adopted.

Now, all school stakeholders have participated in the development of rules for school life and their implementation is discussed with parents, teachers and students.

“We learned more about what students think about rules and their teachers”, one teacher said. “Finally someone asked about our opinion”, a student retorted.

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