The Kharkiv team at the School for Democracy 2015

Resolving conflicts in a peaceful way

At Kharkiv Secondary School 91 in Ukraine, EWC alumni are establishing a School Mediation Centre so that students learn to resolve conflicts peacefully. Another aim is to encourage active citizenship and promote democratic school governance.

The project is one of 16 implemented following the EWC training on Democratic Governance of Schools which took place in Kyiv in October and was organized by the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and EWC with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway.

The project team carried out a pool among the students to learn more about the causes of conflicts and about the democratic changes they wished at school. One of the main activities was training of school mediators, carried out by student trainers.

The main goal was to gather a team of fellow students motivated to act as student mediators so that they could:

  • Develop their communication skills
  • Learn basic approaches to conflict resolution
  • Learn about experiences at other schools
  • Teach students about bullying
  • Elaborate rules for further trainings

One of the exercises at the training was “My negative and positive sides” where each participant mentioned one of his negative features and others suggested ways to help him deal with it. Many students mentioned lack of self-confidence, a bad temper and that they were easily offended.

In the role play “A jerk” the students played out situations where they had to deal with a conflict. The training ended with a time for reflection where the students could share their thoughts and give feedback on their experience.

The training took place after classes in the students’ free time, but none of the participants said they regretted the extra effort. Furthermore, the training attracted students who were known as “spoilers”, that is, students who struggled with their self-discipline. Now, they are at the forefront of conflict resolution measures.

“I am very pleased with the level of engagement among the participants and all the positive feedback I received, is an inspiration for future trainings. It was sad to see that so many students lack self-esteem. We need to do something about that so our next training will probably be devoted to that”, Alisa Ryzhkova, a student trainer, said, herself a student in 11th grade.

Teachers and the school administration hope that the mediation centre will reduce the number of conflicts and centre’ coordinator, Oksana Shtykh is optimistic:

“I believe that students are now more supportive of the idea that conflicts can be resolved peacefully”, she said.

Around 300 students are involved in the project as well as 30 teachers and 20 parents.

Watch the NRK Story on the Kharkiv team here 

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