On 24 June 2022, the Council of Europe Project “Democracy Starts in Schools – Engaging School Children in Decision Making Processes in Schools and Communities" held its first Steering Committee meeting in Tbilisi.
The meeting was opened by Dr Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, Ms Natia Gabitashvili, Deputy Head of International Relations and Strategic Development Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, and Mr Stefan Sirbu, Deputy Head of Council of Europe Office in Georgia.
Citizen participation is a cornerstone of the current Swiss Cooperation Office’s Programme for South Caucasus so that citizens, whatever their age, can participate in decision-making processes for more transparent and accountable institutions. It is important to start this process in school to stimulate young people to engage more, conveyed Dr Danielle Meuwly in her opening remarks.
It is in school that young people acquire knowledge about democracy and develop a culture of participation. “The earlier we engage and equip young children with the values, attitudes, skills and knowledge [needed to build a democratic culture], the better the society we’ll have in the coming years”, highlighted Ms Natia Gabitashvili.
“We are not only preparing children for adult life, but also for life as citizens. […] We need to make sure children grow cognizant that they can use their rights, and that everyone can contribute to the betterment of the society they live in,” said Mr Stefan Sirbu.
Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the project aims to support democracy in Georgia by contributing to greater participation of young people in the decision-making processes at the local level through democratic citizenship education and practices in schools.
During its first meeting, the overview of the project, the workplan and communication strategy were presented to the partners by the project team. The Steering Committee held active and fruitful discussions on the project activities, on the programs and platforms already present in Georgia in the field of education for democratic citizenship. It also provided valuable advice on the way forward and on the possibilities of future synergies among different institutions involved. All the stakeholders present expressed their readiness to continue their close cooperation with the Council of Europe and agreed on the consistent feedback plan regarding the documents presented and other relevant topics.
The Steering Committee members include representatives of the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science, the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, the National Centre for Teacher Professional Development and other key governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.
The Project “Democracy Starts in Schools – Engaging School Children in Decision Making Processes in Schools and Communities in Georgia” is implemented by the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).