Making decisions together
Change often comes with the realization that something is wrong or lacking. At Gymnasium 25 in Rostov Russia they noticed that they had too much top-down governance of the school.
The school administration and teachers focused too much on fulfilling the State’s requirements and regulations. Doing so, they failed to involve all the school stakeholders in the decision-making processes. The consequence was an unwanted top-down management. Part of the problem was also that students were not fully aware of their rights and the ways they could lobby their interest in the co-management of the school.
Enlisted a team
School director Ludmila Ushakova enlisted four of her teachers and teamed up with the South Federal University. Together they took part in the joint EWC and Moscow School of Civic Education program Civic Education in the Russian Regions. There they developed a project aimed at creating conditions necessary to protect and promote human rights and democratic values, human dignity, justice, freedom, responsibility, tolerance, active citizenship and co-participation in the governance of the Gymnasium.
The project was implemented at several fronts March to June 2014.First work started on preparing a school constitution while the role play “Children’s voting” prepared the students for the elections of a Student Parliament. Candidates were nominated for the Youth Council in the Octiabrskiy district of Rostov-on-Don and teachers were trained in strategies to implement civic education in their classes. The school also involved local MPs while the Prosecutors Office informed students and parents about children’s rights. They organized a School Student conference on the Constitution, which was later adopted in free and open elections. The school also organized a self-government day.
The project group is very happy with the results. They now have a student council with a president, and the students, teachers and parents are more involved in community life with initiatives like helping the elderly. The project has also had impacts on other schools in the region through the organization of a seminar entitled “Drafting a Constitution as a tool of Education for Democratic Citizenship”.
The project group is now working to make sure that the progress becomes sustainable through developing and testing a model of democratic governance of the school, practices of public monitoring of the school in the field of citizenship and human rights education and new ways to include education or democratic citizenship and human rights in the curricula.