Csíki Foundation

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High Schools Competition on Promoting Civic Education Project

Financed by the European Union Phare 2001- Civic Education program


The project involves high-school students and its aim is to popularize the values formulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The target of the project is based on the idea that learning must be attractive and motivated, which makes this process more efficient especially if activities are initiated by the students themselves. As well the knowledge of these values makes the person tolerant and leads to a critical way of thinking. In transmitting the values of civil society, NGO-s can and must follow good practical models. The project is based both on the information gathering capacity of students and their knowledge obtained at school. We have several educational aims: the stimulation of personal initiation, the development of organization capacity, accustoming work in team, training of conflict solving, the initiation of creativity and of a responsible behavior and thinking, education in the spirit of tolerance and acceptance of diversity in social life. All these qualities are needed to a peaceful and qualitative way of life.

Networking in South-East and Central Europe:

Partner NGOs from Romania, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro and Ukraine organize the same schools based awareness raising, informing events in each country. (2003-2004)

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In Romania, together with the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research - our partner institution which helps us to contact schools all over the country -, we implemented this national project for students of different nationality. Map of Our Educational Network

Aim of the project:
Promoting peace education by training and supporting youths to initiate different activities in their schools related to human rights protection, interethnic tolerance, ethics, conflict resolution, environment.

Target group:
Direct target group:
-15-20 years old students from different parts of the country,
-4 students from each high-school, who:
- are of different nationality and belong to a national or ethnic minority group
- have experience in organizing events
- volunteered in the schools or in an NGO
- are willing to learn, to share information and to spread the spirit of tolerance among their colleagues.

In Romania eight nationalities were represented in the project: Hungarian, Roma, Ukrainian, Romanian, Slovakian, Serbian, Saxon and Turkish students.

Totally 48 participants were representing 12 high-schools from Romania. The following schools were selected to participate in this project:

1. Art High-school from Târgu Mures
2. "Mikes Kelemen" High school from Sfântu Gheorghe
3. "Octavian Goga" High school from Miercurea Ciuc
4. "Ady Endre" High-school from Oradea
5. "Taras Secvenco" High-school from Sighetu Marmatiei
6. "Kemal Ataturk" Theological and Pedagogical High-school from Medgidia
7. "Dositei Obradovici" High-school from Timisoara
8. "J. G. Tajovszky" High-school from Nadlac
9. "Németh László" High-school from Baia Mare
10. "Anghel Saligny" High-school from Craiova
11. "Joseph Haltrich" High-school from Sighisoara
12. "Ady Endre" High-school from Bucuresti 

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The innovative nature of this project is our new and popular educational method, initiated in 2003, first put in practice in Harghita County in five high-schools and improved after the evaluation in 2004.

"Own ideas, own responsibilities":
The program requires youths' active participation. Students, based on their own creative ideas and initiatives, plan the whole extracurricular school program, which improves their organizational skills and abilities. The participants of the project come up with ideas, then they organize the events they have planned. This program helps them in the future to be innovative and take initiatives.

"From student to student" information channel:
Young people pass on knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to their schoolmates during extra curricular activities. This is the most effective method of raising people's interest in the importance of human rights issues. It is also a great challenge for young people to compare their knowledge and abilities and to take initiatives into their own hands. The more young people are involved in program planning and in organizing the events, the more interested they become.

"Entertaining character":
Amusing games and lectures, mainly during the activities organized by the students themselves, in which they can find the proper way of expressing their abilities and skills. This entertaining character helps a more successful transmission of knowledge and information to the participating students. At the same time, during games and common activities types of behavior and attitude are validly copied. Students can accumulate a great amount of knowledge with minimum effort, which can be put in practice in their everyday life and which can change their way of thinking.

"Spirit of Competition":
Challenging young people to organize the most successful programs. Competition is also a very motivating activity. Young people will learn more successfully, not just for the sake of the prize, but also for the spirit of competition.

"International network and background":
Similar international activities exist all over the world and our program is usually part of these. The International Tolerance Team email-group assures the connection between the students participating in the program.

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Training courses

The aim of the courses is to support students in acquiring more knowledge and information, to create the basis of intercultural communication, to empower them to gain more self-confidence and courage in taking decisions.

The themes of the courses:

a. Theoretical learning

- Basic human rights, minorities', women', refugees', children' etc. rights: history principles
- Instruments of national and international human rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants on Human Rights: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights, Conventions of the Rights of the Child, The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Anti-discrimination Law of Romania etc.)
- Human rights national and international IGO-s and NGO-s
- Human rights' web resources and human rights' bibliography
- Clarifying definitions: all forms of discrimination, prejudice, tolerance, racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism, intercultural, multiculturalism, assimilation, identity, minority, "difference"
- Examples of the worldwide anti-discrimination campaigns
- Diversity management, conflict prevention and non-violent, creative conflict resolution, leaders of non-violent civil rights' movements
- Ethics in a multiethnic society, diversity management
- Sustainable development, globalization.

b. Practical learning

- Democratic school system, non- formal educational methods
- Organizing events: defining the goal of the program and the target group, create list of activities, create partnerships, searching for human and financial resources, planning the evaluating indicators, the expected results.

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The trainers of the program:

· Deme Cecilia - author of the book "Manual on Human Rights", teacher at the Public Administration College "Babes-Bolyai" in Sfantu-Gheorghe and teacher at the Theoretical High-school "Nagy Mozes" in Targu Secuiesc, Romania;
· Demeter Annamaria - inspector for Roma children and children with special needs in Harghita county, Romania;
· Kadar Magor - International Youth Trainer, Program coordinator of the grant and scholarships information office PONT, Targu Mures, Romania;
· Bartis Ervin - law consultant at the Romanian Forum of Refugees and Migrants, Bucharest, Romania;
· Horvath Istvan - Director of the Interethnic Relations Research Center and professor at the "Babes-Bolyai" University, Faculty of Sociology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania;
· Leca Mihaela Corina - Programme Coordinator, CRED (the Romanian Center for Education and Human Development), Tirgoviste, Romania.

School events:

The following International Events were celebrated in schools:

· International Day of Women' Rights on 8th March
· International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21st March
· International Day of Roma's on 8th of April
· International Day of Earth on 14th April
· International Day of Independence, Freedom and Human Rights on 25th May
· International Day of Refugees on 20th June
· International Day of Tolerance on 16th November
· International Human Rights' Day on 10th of December

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List of activities initiated and organized by students:

· Sport competitions
· Other competitions
· Debates, forums, courses
· Entertainment
· Presenting national customs and clothes, different cultures and religions
· Different nationalities' gastronomy presentation
· Preparation and distribution of informative materials
· Role play
· Different games
· Case study
· Public opinion pull
- "Talking walls"
· Films and documentaries
· Marching in streets
· Humanitarian aids
· Creating new decision making forums


Demonstrative presentation of the school programs

A final occasion to preview and evaluate the programs in each school was the exhibition opened in Miercurea Ciuc. Here all the participant teams had the occasion to exhibit their own materials and to present the agendas of the program using video and CD digital records, photos, posters, all the informative material, they had prepared during the events and all the articles that had been published about them in the media. This presentation helped students, organizers and interested visitors to realize the variety of skills and abilities that students are able to mobilize in order to raise interest, transfer information and change attitudes. The Exhibition was open for a week, there were lots of people, mainly teachers and youngsters who visited the exposed materials and local media also focused on the events.

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The award giving ceremony and the gift:

On the basis of the evaluation forms, the design and message of the exhibited materials the commission of evaluators named the winner teams of the competition. Even if there was set a list of winners, all schools received a Prize of Tolerance, that the students brought back to their schools and exposed on the wall. The symbolical message of this prize is that the school, its teachers and its students do not discriminate any person because of his origin, race, nationality, religion, language and mental or physical abilities.

Beside the Tolerance Prize students got gifts that consisted of valuable books.

The most important goal of this project was not to win the first prize. But the fact is that everybody was and must be winner: each participant of this project can learn and acquire more knowledge, more skills and can experience how important cooperation with others in order to get more and better results is. To emphasize this aim of the project and mostly the fact that we work in a multicultural environment, we organized a one-day trip by bus for the whole group to the Saint Anna Lake. This trip provided for participants a less formal occasion to discuss, to get to know each other better, and to create friendships.

Meeting unknown persons and facing unknown problems creates fear, fear creates violence and hate: "An enemy is one whose story we have not heard." Gene Knudsen Hoffman, Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) peace activist.

Follow up activities:

The real success of such events is shown if teachers and school directors integrate some elements of these activities in their educational method, and if students can more actively participate in the evolution of their community development and in the decision making process.

Our main objective is to create a tradition in Romanian high-schools to organize similar activities in every school-year at the occasion of such international events. All participants of this project gained the "know how" and the experience of planning and organizing events and they are all able to continue putting into practice their own program ideas. Our organization support their initiatives.

We created a ToleranceTeam@yahoogroups.com email list, where all the participants from all the countries involved are subscribed and in this way youth of different nationalities and with the same interest can keep in touch and share ideas and experiences.

At the same time we are working on enlarging our educational network in more South-Eastern and Central European countries. We use all forums to make our successful projects known by other NGOs and also by donors. The international background assures the participant students' conviction that the fulfillment of such international programs leads to the creation and acceptance of European democratic values.

Donors of the Program:

Besides our main donor, the European Union's Phare 2001 Civil Society program - Civic Education Component, our educational program was also supported by the local authorities: the Local Council of Miercurea Ciuc and the Harghita County Council. Both contributed financially to the success of the project. International organizations have also contributed to the program: the UNITED from the Netherlands, the UNHCR from Bucharest and the European Youth Center from Hungary helped our program with lots of teaching and informative materials.

"This web site does not necessarily represent the official position of the European Commission. The initiators of the site are the sole responsible for the information provided through this site."

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