Sunday, November 28, 2010

Civic Education Project - "The Village"

A project I helped plan for, and am currently involved in is called "The Village" It is a really interesting participative civic education project. The below is quoted text from the handbook that was put together by another volunteer. It shows some of the reasoning that we set out to do the project in Moldova.
In Moldova, civic education is obligatory for students in the 5th through 12th grades. Despite this
fact, studies done have shown that civic education that is not participative has a limited impact on
the development of democratic attitudes and behaviors. Alongside bookwork, students must be given
opportunities to work together and be engaged in solving real community problems.
Local public administrations and civil society organizations in Moldova, have the mission to educate
and engage youth in civic action—the very mission of the civic education curriculum. Therefore, a
recognized relationship should exist between formal classroom study and the goals of the local public
administration and the NGO community. Civil society organizations have the opportunity to be working
together with schools to enable students to learn in their domain of expertise while accomplishing the civic
education curriculum goals.
SperanĊ£a, in partnership with the Educational Society for Malopolska (MTO), and Peace Corp
Moldova, is introducing two successful participative civic education programs in 18 to 24 communities
in Moldova. These civic programs (Village and PA) will be evaluated in partnership with SIEDO and The
Ministry of Education to explore an official relationship between civil society organizations and the public
schools in order to achieve their many common goals for adolescent civic development.

Essentially these children choose everything in a village. They design a "Peep" which is an identity, not their own, with a biography and so on. Then they speak through this "Peep" in all public discussion. This all leads to a village/town getting constructed. The children choose on a government, city planning, dividing up public versus private land, tyrant-ran village, whatever they choose goes. The point is to get them involved in decision making and all sorts of decision processes. This way, hopefully, they will become more active citizens in real society.
I have been actively taking part with a group of 11th graders, two hours a week. Our group decided on the name "Peepville." Although my group is older than many others who are participating throughout Moldova, they tend to stay focused, and excited when I show overt enthusiasm.
I know, the "Peeps" look like voodoo dolls. Another interesting fact is that all the groups throughout Moldova are keeping track of their "Village Project" through an online blog. Check it out here: