Jan 20, 2016 / Civitas International Programs
More than 500 seventh grade students in Santiago, Chile, developed policy-based solutions to local issues in a Project Citizen program with support from the U.S. Embassy. The students, from the communities of Peñalolén and Puente Alto, presented their policy proposals to educators, local and national authorities, and embassy officials at a Project Citizen showcase in December 2015. The showcase culminated months of work with their classmates to (1) identify public policy problems in their community, (2) gather and evaluate information about the problems, (3) examine and evaluate alternative solutions, (4) select and develop public policy proposals to address the problems, and (5) develop action plans to bring their proposed solutions to authorities with the power to implement them.
The grant-funded program is managed by local Chilean non-profit organization Fundación Hacer Chile. It began in August 2015 with a workshop for teachers from twenty-five schools. The teachers returned to their classrooms in the fall semester and began to use the Project Citizen curriculum with their students. The students worked collaboratively, facilitated by their teachers, to develop policy-based solutions to local issues.
The culminating showcase in December took place at the Former National Congress Building and featured six projects selected as finalists by a panel consisting of the mayors of Peñalolén and Puente Alto, civic education experts, and the president of Fundación Hacer Chile, Gonzalo Sanchez. The top-rated projects were “Drug Consumption among Young People” from Liceo Antonio Hermida Fabres in Peñalolén and “Bus Stops for Everyone” from Pedro Aguirre Cerda school in Puente Alto.
Project Citizen is a civic education curricular program developed by the Center for Civic Education and adapted by the Center’s partner organizations in 75 countries. It has been recognized as a model program that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for competent and responsible participation in the political life of their communities. Through Project Citizen, young people—from middle school students to young adults—learn how to monitor and influence public policy. The Center’s Civitas International Programs have worked with Chilean colleagues for a number of years to exchange experiences and materials in civic education for young people, including Project Citizen and other curricular programs.