Students at Milja Nikčevi School in Niksic, Montenegro

School as a community hub

Staff at Milja Nikčevi School in Niksic, Montenegro, wanted to teach their students about democracy and human rights by involving the whole community, but did not have the expertise or resources to do it all by themselves.

So they partnered with the Nansen Dialogue Center and went to the Summer Academy in Montenegro to develop a joint action plan. Back at school they shared their plan with the Teachers’ Council, the Students’ Parliament and the Parents’ Council, and formed a Human Rights team made up of student, teacher and parent representatives.

Promoting true life values through education

With the help of the Nansen Dialogue Center, the team ran workshops on human rights. They also conducted a student survey on human rights. Teachers were encouraged to include lessons on democratic citizenship and human rights in their annual plans.

“I realised that all changes start with ourselves.

Much use was made of the Council of Europe manuals on democratic school governance and teacher competences, as well as the collections of human rights learning activities – such as Compass and Compasito, and the Council of Europe human rights posters.

The project was well-received by students and teachers alike. One 8th grade student said, “I realised that all changes start with ourselves. In order to promote human rights in our community we need first to be informed about our rights”. A teacher noted, “This project brings out the importance of promoting true life values through education.”

School linking

The school was also able to benefit from a link with Základní škola Bernarda Bolzana o.p.s a school from Tabor in the Czech Republic. It was arranged by the Academy of Central European Schools. Conveniently, the Czech school was also running a project on human rights and diversities at the same time!

With the assistance of the Nansen Dialogue Center, the school Human Rights team carried out a local survey on human rights issues – interviewing a number of local officials. The results were presented at a public debate in the presence of a wide range of community representatives, including from: the Municipality, Ministry of Education, Bureau for Education Services, Police Department, School Board, Parents' Council, Teachers’ Council, Students’ Parliament, School Peer Mediation Club, local media and civil society organisations and other schools.

At the end of the debate, a representative from the local assembly in Niksic said, “We support this project as it contributes to development of democracy and human rights. It recognizes the necessity of involving local stakeholders.”

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