Democratic values and practices have to be learned and relearned by each generation in order to live together in diverse societies. It is not primarily about learning facts, but about acquiring skills and changing attitudes to address the challenges of our times in a peaceful and respectful way.
EWC's mission is to bridge policy, research and practice in the field of education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural understanding. How do we do this? Since 2009 the centre has developed some training models which we now know work.
Schools are at the heart of community life, and each school knows their own challenges and needs best. EWC trainers and experts offer face-to-face and online training to help the whole school build an inclusive environment, where principles of human rights and democracy can be learned and practiced.
School heads, teachers, parents, students and representatives of civil society participate at EWC trainings where they develop their own projects to implement in their schools and communities. On this page we have collected some of the best stories of how Council of Europe policies on democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural understanding manifest themselves in practice.
Students in the Russian city of Stavropol are setting their own agenda through making movies about issues that concern them.
Their aim was to identify youth’s needs, present the most pressing issues to the public through short documentaries and finally to find ways to address these issues together with school administration, teachers, parents and the local community.
Kyiv School #85 is a school with many children with disabilities. After participating at the 2013 Youth Forum in Ukraine, the teachers and students set out to build a more inclusive school environment.
“Our school was already inclusive, but we had a vision that disabled children should be equal members of our school society not only according to the law but also in real life. That was the aim with our projectInclusion of disabled children at school”, teacher Bela Delmaeva, explained.
At Nikolaevka secondary school in Kamchatka, Russia, the students learned that democracy only works through common efforts, tolerance, compromise and respect for others.
“The project gave us, students, knowledge about methods and procedures needed for effective participation in political processes. We also developed a better understanding for the importance of civil participation in public life, Dmitrii Krivolapov, 11 grade student said.
Groruddalen School in Oslo, Norway, is truly an intercultural meeting place but this does not change the fact that bullying can be a problem. The school decided to fight this organizing a week of friendship.
Groruddalen School is located in an area which has inhabitants with backgrounds from around 170 different countries. As one of the first five schools it took part in DEMBRA; a three year project by the EWC in cooperation with the The Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities and The University of Oslo.
Summer Academy alumni at Melitopol Specialized School in Ukraine returned to school intent on improving their skills in human rights education. They ended up applying what they had learned across the whole school.
They began – as all good professional training does – by assessing their colleagues’ existing knowledge and understanding. Using this assessment, the Summer Academy alumni were able to plan ways of developing each colleague’s skills individually, using the method of case technology in a series of teacher workshops.
Rostov School 105 has 673 students of 40 different nationalities. Promoting a democratic environment at the school built the foundation for intercultural understanding, sense of citizenship and good academic achievements.
“Having led this school for years I understood, that all the challenges of multiculturalism, both in our country and in the whole world, they just do not exist among children. Yes, they do fight, but not because they are of different nationalities, but just because they are children. ”, school director Nataliya Prykhodko, said.
How can you ensure democratic governance of a school if the parents are not motivated to take part? At Mykhailo Kravchuk Lutsk Gymnasium in Ukraine they decided to get the parents on board.
Among many activities were a day of parents’ self-government at school. During the day 42 parents conducted lessons and 54 parents and their children helped clean the schoolyard.
The GLC School Lyceum in the Georgian city of Zugdidi wanted to increase the participation of teachers, students and parents in the running of the school. The establishment of a school wide internet forum helped increase the participation in school decision processes.
At Lijepa naša primary school in Tuhelj, Croatia, they use modern teaching methods to promote tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution and empathy among the students.
Summer Academy graduates Natalija Knezić Medvedec, school head; Snježana Romić, homeroom teacher, and Ljiljana Žegrec, teacher of English, were in charge of the project which aimed at promoting education for democratic citizenship (EDC) and human rights (HRE) across the curriculum.