Balkan Regional Seminar|
Students and teachers from across southeastern Europe participated in a unique simultaneous training workshop based on Foundations of Democracy. The International School on Tolerance and Democracy took place in Ohrid, Macedonia, August 27–September 1, 2006. It was organized and taught by Rumen Valchev of Bulgaria’s Open Education Center and sponsored by the Center.
Thirty English-speaking high school students and teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Montenegro participated. In morning sessions, Valchev taught the students using interactive methods while teachers observed. In the afternoon, while students worked on lesson-related projects, Valchev debriefed the teachers and trained them to use the curriculum.
The simultaneous training of students and teachers is an innovative approach, and the event was deemed successful. Participants benefited from the similarity of their regional languages—they found that they could resort to their native languages when their English skills proved insufficient.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Civitas@Bosnia and Herzegovina organized a series of activities in May 2006 to mark the 10th anniversary of its successful program. The celebration included a reunion of teacher trainers who had first come to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of the war in 1996 to assist the country in strengthening its democracy through civic education.
A conference was held in the grand hall of the Parliamentary Assembly on May 20, 2006, as part of the anniversary activities. The conference was attended by Tina Kaidanow, Chargé d'Affaires of the U.S. Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina; officials from the Council of Europe, representatives of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament, and members from the country’s educational institutions. Attendees also included more than 250 participants from throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and about 50 teachers and 50 guests from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and the United States.
The celebration ended with the 10th Annual Project Citizen National Showcase, which included the best teams from each canton and region of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Brcko District. The more than 60,000 students from the more than 2,500 classes participating in the showcase came from primary and secondary schools that had taken part in Project Citizen competitions throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Center’s China partnership, which includes Chinese adaptations of Project Citizen, is well into its second year. In 2006, a fifth site was added to the four original Project Citizen sites: Shanxi province joined the provinces of Yunnan and Jiangsu and the municipalities of Shanghai and Weifang in Shandong province. By the end of 2006, about 107,400 students were participating in Project Citizen. About 4,265 educators in 572 schools in 47 Chinese cities taught more than 2,200 Project Citizen classes.
A delegation of U.S. congressional staff visited China October 27–November 4, 2006, to observe Project Citizen showcases in Suzhou, in Jiangsu province, and Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. At a rural minority school near Kunming, the delegation witnessed the changes Project Citizen has brought to the school, to parent–school relations, and to relations with local officials. Delegates also met with educators and education officials in Shanghai and Beijing.
A 2006 Project Citizen showcase in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.
Inter-American Seminar on Education for Democracy
The Center sponsored an Inter-American Seminar on Education for Democracy in Santiago, Chile, November 2–4, 2006. Fundacion Ideas, a Chilean nonprofit organization working to promote democracy through education, hosted the event. The event brought together more than 80 civic educators, professors, educational authorities, policymakers, and researchers from 16 Latin American countries and 10 U.S. states.
Craig A. Kelly, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, inaugurated the seminar. Carlos Peña, Academic Rector of Chile’s University Diego Portales, delivered the keynote address. Peña spoke about inequality and its impact on education for democracy.
The seminar included six plenary sessions and 15 breakout sessions facilitated by civic education leaders. Students presented their solutions to local public policy problems developed as part of their participation in Project Citizen. The issues addressed included sex education, bilingual education, and care for the elderly.
Chilean students present their Project Citizen portfolio on cultural diversity and respect for indigenous languages in schools.
Emily Higgs is the new Arab Civitas program coordinator at the Center’s Washington, D.C., office. Higgs spent the month of June 2006 in an intensive Arabic language program at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. While there, she attended Lebanon’s Project Citizen national showcase.
In July, fighting between Hezbollah and Israel cut Higgs’s stay short. The war escalated quickly, with air and sea blockades and attacks on the airport and the road to Syria making it difficult to leave. On July 14, the Lebanese American University transported its students to its northern campus in Byblos. Four days later, Higgs left from the port of Beirut on the deck of a Norwegian cargo ship, becoming one of the first Americans to be evacuated to Cyprus.
The Center has begun collaboration with Mali’s National Programme for Citizenship Education (PNEC). Supported by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and other organizations, PNEC is designed to promote citizen engagement, human rights and a democratic culture in Mali.
Young Citizens’ Pilot Project, the Malian adaptation of Project Citizen, is being implemented in nine secondary schools from September 2006 to March 2007. About 180 students are participating. The project will culminate in a national showcase, with televised coverage of the work of participating classes and a live debate between students and government officials.
In September 2006, trainers from Senegal conducted the first Project Citizen training workshop in Bamako. At the closing ceremony, a representative of the Minister of Domestic Affairs thanked the Center and Civitas Senegal for their help, noting that the program will strengthen democracy in Mali by empowering citizens.
At the invitation of its partner, the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), the Center sponsored a delegation of U.S. civic educators to observe Mexico’s presidential election during the summer of 2006.
Before the election, delegates attended a seminar for all international electoral observers and met with presidential candidates and civic leaders to discuss the electoral environment. On election day, delegates visited 10 polling stations in Mexico City and surrounding areas. The delegation was pleased to announce that no significant irregularities were observed and recognized IFE for its outstanding job on the administration of transparent and fair elections.
Delegates included Darline Robles, Superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education; Guillermo Hernandez, Professor of Latin America Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles; Maria Casillas, President of Families in Schools; Jack Hoar, Senior Advisor at the Center; Suzanne Soule, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Center; and Oscar E. Cruz, Senior Program Manager, Civitas International Programs.
Poll workers during Mexico’s July 2, 2006, presidential election.
The Center and its Civitas partners in Pakistan are expanding Project Citizen in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, where it was first piloted in 2004, and extending the program to Lahore and Peshawar, the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan and the disputed region of Kashmir. The expansion of Project Citizen was made possible by an award from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In September 2006 the Secretary of Schools and Literacy of the Northwest Frontier Province and the Director General of Pakistan’s Federal Directorate of Education inaugurated Project Citizen training workshops for principals and teachers from 13 schools in Peshawar and 11 schools in Lahore. The Peshawar District’s Nazim (mayor) was the guest of honor at the concluding ceremony in Peshawar.
The expansion of Project Citizen attracted media attention, and the involvement of high-level government officials in the trainings reflects their commitment to the program.
Implementation of Project Citizen in Qatari schools began in the fall of 2006. The Center organized two Project Citizen teacher-training workshops with the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Doha, the Qatari Childhood Cultural Center (QCCC), and the Supreme Education Council. Qatar is the first of four new Arab Civitas Project Citizen pilot countries. Workshops in Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates are planned for early 2007.
The first Qatari workshop for 15 participants took place at the QCCC August 13–17, 2006. The QCCC is implementing Project Citizen with students who have behavioral problems. A representative of the QCCC said that the program’s structure helps these students.
The Center collaborated with the Supreme Education Council—the government body responsible for education reform—to organize a second Project Citizen workshop August 27–31. Twenty-seven educators participated in the workshop. The national media covered both events. The newspaper Al Watan quoted Mariam Al Masnad, Acting Director of the QCCC, as saying that Project Citizen “focuses on the government’s functions, societal issues, and the responsibilities of citizens. Participation in the program teaches students to observe the implementation of public policies and enables them to influence the policies.”
Training participants with their Project Citizen portfolios at the Supreme Education Council training workshop, Doha, Qatar, August 27–31, 2006.
Civitas Africa partners from Bowling Green State University and the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts hosted a delegation from South Africa in September and October 2006. Delegates included Sindi Shayi, the Western Cape Educational Department’s Chief Director of Regional Services, Dennis Pillay, Deputy Director of Special Projects, Anash Mangalparsad, Director of the Centre for Community and Educational Development, and two Project Citizen teachers.
The focus of this exchange was the role of civic education curricula in motivating and engaging young citizens. The delegation visited Ohio and Kentucky schools and interacted with students, teachers, and administrators implementing Project Citizen and Foundations of Democracy. Discussion topics included “The Role of Project Citizen/Youth Programs in Engaging Civic Participation: An International Perspective.”
With the support of its provincial educational department, the Western Cape became the second province in South Africa to implement Project Citizen, holding a showcase for 10 schools on November 29, 2006. Plans to expand Project Citizen to other provinces are underway.
The Center hosted its first Freedom House New Generation Fellow in November 2006. Koutheir Bouallegue, a mid-career lawyer from Tunisia, spent two weeks at the Center observing programs, discussing democratic principles and human rights with Center civic education experts, and preparing a concept paper for a project focused on reducing corruption in Tunisia’s judicial system.
Koutheir Bouallegue, Freedom House New Generation Fellow. Bouallegue visited the Center in November 2006.
Bouallegue presented his proposal on his last day at the Center. He plans to develop a legal watchdog website where cases and their judgments would be posted along with information about Tunisian law and the principles of justice. The site would focus on presenting an objective legal analysis of decisions and encouraging the public to promote fair and legal judicial rulings.
Freedom House created the New Generation of Advocates program in the Middle East and North Africa with the goal of developing a new generation of advocates for democracy. The program provides training and fellowships to young civil society leaders.