In the context of the EU/CoE Joint Project “Strengthening Democratic Culture in Basic Education” in Turkey, a 5-day study visit organised in co-operation with the Zurich University of Teacher Education took place in Switzerland between 7 and 11 March 2022. On the first day, participants were addressed by Prof Heinz Rhyn, the Rector of the Zurich University of Teacher Education, Dr Hasan Emre Uygun, Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Zurich, Mr Tuncay Morkoç, Director General of Basic Education of the Turkish Ministry of National Education (MoNE), and Ms Sarah Keating, Head of the Co-operation and Capacity Building Division of the Council of Europe Education Department. Key notes focused on the importance of ensuring a democratic school environment in schools where students can actively participate, co-operate with their peers and develop skills and competences. The speakers also highlighted the importance of teacher training and of the whole school approach in achieving a culture of democracy.
The visit brought together teachers selected from the project’s 10 pilot provinces who have successfully completed the three modules of the training of trainers on competences for democratic culture as well as representatives from the MoNE. The study visit aimed at familiarising the Turkish teachers with the teaching the culture of democracy and matching competences by looking at the Swiss example.
During the first 3 days of the visit, participants took part in a series of specialised sessions on how to best address societal issues with students, as well as on the specificities of adult education and the methods that they can use when training their peers. On the fourth day of the programme, teachers visited a pre-school and a secondary school, and they observed the implementation of competences for democratic culture in a school environment. The principals of the two schools shared some best practices, including having regular coaching sessions with students, student parliaments, and close co-operation with parents. Following the classroom observations, the teachers from Turkey and those from Switzerland met to exchange opinions and experiences.
The teachers, who have received a certificate of attendance, are now considered to be “master trainers” of the project and will share the knowledge and experience gained with their peers upon their return to Turkey.