Olena Pchilka Kovel City Lyceum
Address: Nezalezhnosti street 19, Kovel, Volynska region, 45000
Project: Student Council President Elections
Working language during the project:
Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:
- Making children’s and students’ voices heard
- Improving well-being at school
- Developing democratic school environment
Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:
- Value democracy, justice, fairness, equality and the rule of law
- Knowledge and critical understanding of the world: politics, law, human rights, culture, cultures, religions, history, media, economies, environment, sustainability
- Conflict resolution skills
Preparing for the Student Council President Elections students learn about and gain understanding on the topics of laws and rules, the democratic process, the voting system, the media, human rights. Students are given the opportunity to experience the values and principles of the democratic process in action: they participate in shared governance where they may put civic education and democracy into action, develop an awareness of good leadership qualities. These include critical thinking, analysing information, expressing opinions, taking part in discussions and presidential debates, negotiating, conflict resolution and participating in the electoral campaigns. Students increase their knowledge of political efficacy, campaign strategies and gain an understanding of the democratic process. In this way they become confident, tolerant, open and courageous to defend their point of view. Students reflect on and assert the power and decision-making processes in their school and government.
- Linguistic, communicative, and plurilingual skills,
- Knowledge and critical understanding of language and communication
- Skills of listening and observing
Developing campaign strategies, preparing campaign materials, students create posters, flyers, posters, notices, banners, emails, e-board announcements, forums and web pages to conduct their electoral campaigns. Participating in these activities they develop their linguistic and communicative skills, learn to use sound judgment to make good decisions based on information gathered and analysed. Students learn to listen actively to others, work with and stand up for others, organise and deliver information appropriately, consider all pertinent facts and alternatives before deciding on the most appropriate action, regulate and control their emotions. They learn to express their ideas effectively in such activities as presentations, meetings, negotiations, debates. Students learn to use appropriate language schemes when they take part in presidential debates.
- Cooperation, communication, responsibility, leadership, citizenship
Organizing a central election commission, discussing details of how to run the elections, election rules, posting policy and campaign plans, students take personal responsibility for task performance, developing a spirit of solidarity with others. They learn to complete a task in a timely and consistent manner. They learn to cooperate in building a team, working together, sharing tasks, being responsible for certain issues and supporting others. Working well in a team, students show their respect and empathy to others and have the maturity to realise that no activity is a stand-alone activity. Being engaged in discussions students develop their communication skills, learn to solve problems. They learn to take responsible decisions in choosing a candidate to vote for.
Target group age range:
- 11 -15 and
- 15 - 19
Level of education:
- Lower secondary education
- Upper secondary education
Short description of the project:
The project focuses on active citizenship, human rights, awareness of good leadership qualities, of human relations, of power structures and of how to operate effectively within them. Student government would not exist without students who are interested in providing input on institutional issues and serving as representatives of the student body.
The election process is still one of the primary means for students to begin their political participation and gain an understanding of the democratic process. Involvement in shared governance at the school level begins with participation in student government elections. Every student at Kovel City Gymnasium is eligible to vote for the Student Council President. It is important that students understand the voting system to be used and it is advisable to raise any specific questions with management before the elections are held.
The project includes three stages. At the first stage (October, two weeks), students organise a Central election commission, the members of which discuss details of how to run the elections, election rules, posting policy, campaign plan. All candidates register for the 2019 Student Council Election President and conform to the campaign rules as they are expected to, be familiar with the school policies and regulations. To be placed on the official ballot, all candidates must submit their completed petitions to the office of the Central election commission for Student involvement no later than 4pm on Thursday,22 October. During the pre-election marathon, campaigns play an enormous role.
At the second practical stage (November, 3-4 weeks), the members of the central office compile and publish a list of voters (in order to vote in an election everyone must be registered to vote), registered candidates ask other students to help with a candidate's campaign, meet with a group of students or use school website to develop campaign strategies, prepare campaign materials, print posters, create social media pages and create a Facebook page for campaigning, conducting presidential debates. Candidates are allowed to use flyers, posters, notices, banners, emails, e-board announcements, forums and web pages to conduct their electoral campaigns.
Their campaigns are organised for the purpose of promoting their respective candidates and the values for which they stand. All school members can vote for the candidates and each member has one vote per position. Voting takes place on 7 December 2019 (a Day of local government).
At the third stage the results of the elections are verified and announced by the members of the Central election commission. The Inaugural Ceremony of the Students’ Council president is held on 19 December 2019 (a Day of Gymnasium) in the assembly hall. The student Council President takes the oath during the ceremony and presents her/his speech during the Election Day assembly. S/he talks about the importance of the council body and assures that many more programmes will be conducted under her/his leadership to the utmost satisfaction of the school. The School’s Principal in her presidential remarks congratulates the outgoing student council president, expresses her wishes for the upcoming Student council president and his team to shoulder the responsibilities with human values, to make the best use of the council body, organise variety of programmes and develop leadership qualities.
The newly elected candidate begins working with the current Student Council leaders and attending their meetings to become familiar with the general Student Council procedures and the current projects.
- Create citizens who value civic duty and understand the importance of engaging in political activity;
- Provide students with opportunities to participate in shared governance where they may put civic education and democracy into action;
- Promote fairness, equality of opportunity, and justice for all students;
- Develop student potential and encourage them to make a well-informed, honest, interested and active citizenship;
- Develop not only leadership abilities within the youth of today, but also leadership for the community, state and nation of tomorrow. In this process, it is also the objective to develop an awareness of good leadership qualities, hopefully, for a more informed, concerned and active citizenry of tomorrow;
- Increase student involvement and school pride;
- Provide a living workshop of democratic processes, through such activities as elections and participation in a constitutional representative assembly;
- Contribute to the educational experiences of students by providing them with a positive involvement in the school, with widened areas of responsibilities and with more direct participation in organising and implementing activities.
This increases students’ sense of political efficacy, the belief that their political participation is worthwhile. Through engaging in student government elections as candidates, students are more likely to participate actively in civic and political life as adults.
- Students who devote time and energy into their school experience through active engagement in their academic pursuits and participation in extra-curricular activities tend to take initiative, persist at school and enjoy higher levels of achievement.
- Students who run for political office in school elections feel empowered to make decisions in the school setting and begin to understand their power to affect change within their own political environments in the future.
- Students have become aware of their own potentials in making differences to their society.
- Students develop a sincere regard for law and order appropriate to this democratic society.
Challenges you faced
There is little known about the experiences of candidates in student government elections or the students’ perceptions of the election process.
Young adults have limited knowledge of the impact of civic engagement and less confidence in collective actions, such as voting.
Time-frame of the project:
October 2019 – December 2019
Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:
- Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture
- Living Democracy-manuals for teachers
- Democratic governance of schools
- Addressing violence in schools through EDC/HRE
- All Different – All Equal
- We CAN!
- Human Rights and Democracy Start with Us – Charter for All
- Freedom(s) - Learning activities for secondary schools on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights
- How all Teachers Can Support EDC/HRE: A Framework for the Development of Competences
- Multimedia Material (ex. video “Beat Bullying”, series of cartoons “Democracy and Human Rights at School”, video “Corporal punishment at school: how two parents decided to change things”)