The Civis Polonus Foundationwas established in 2004 to building an interest and a comprehensive understanding of public affairs at the local, national and international levels in Poland.
Our goals are rooted in de Toqueville’s thinking about the nature of the ‘good’ state. We believe that the state is a community of self-organized, competent and engaged citizens. Competent citizens are those, who understand their rights, know how to use them and actively participate in good governance. Engaged citizens are those who believe that their participation in community life matters and that they can affect change. Put differently, they are partners in public administration – not petitioners.
BETTER CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION AT SCHOOLS
Schools are a very important public space for young people. This is why we believe they should serve as an example of a transparent and democratic institution where students’ rights and obligations are clearly defined. To prepare youngsters to their future role of active citizens, schools should give them the opportunity to plan and implement their own projects, while taking responsibility for their actions and being accountable for delivering results.
Notable projects include:
1) The Transparent and Participative School
The objective of this programme is the implementation and promotion of cooperation between students, teachers and Head Teachers in Polish secondary schools. We are trying to create and implement a model of the school as an open and flexible institution where students participate in community life through certain democratic processes. We are sure that once this relationship is established, it is possible to carry out bottom-up projects such as consultations about the Head Teacher’s decisions, debating new ideas and promoting knowledge about the students rights.
The project is specifically focused on the school environment, including Head Teachers, teachers and students.
Other activities in this field include conducting training for teachers to strengthen their competency as coaches for school council members.
2) From a small school to the big world
This aim of this project is to develop specific competencies in pupils at 110 primary schools situated in rural Poland. Civis Polonus Foundation is the lead partner, responsible for developing social and civic competencies within those 1300 young people to make them more aware and active in social, political, and local life as citizens. The project emphasizes the development of communication skills, building partnerships and establishing trust between students and teachers. To achieve those goals, FCP supports groups of educators and specialists in preparing prepare lesson scenarios for teachers to deliver educational projects in everyday school life. One of these is a project cold “Civic dialogue in schools”. Pupils identify and define problems to solve in their school, prepare for meetings with the school Head Teacher and present their views on solutions. To support this activity, they carry out opinion polls of the local community using different methods, draw up their results and present them. In the end they organize a school debate.
The active participation of young people in decisions and actions at local and regional level is essential if we are to build more democratic, inclusive and prosperous societies. Participation in the democratic life of any community is about more than voting or standing for election, although these are important elements. Participation and active citizenship is about having the right, the means, the space and the opportunity and where necessary the support to participate in and influence decisions and engage in actions and activities so as to contribute to building a better society. Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life
Notable projects include:
1) Youth District Council in Warsaw
This Civis Polonus project has been run since 2004. The aim is to enable young people to influence decision– making processes at local levels, especially in the area of youth policy. FCP works to strengthen student’s skills in analyzing local problems, reflecting on them and formulate recommendations on solutions for local authorities. FCP is currently focused on elaborating clear and useful procedures for consultations between local authorities and youth. We work on a prioritized list of topics that we believe every local community should consult on with youth and youth councils.
Elections for the Youth District Council take place annually in every Warsaw school district. These are preceded by an exciting 3 day electoral campaign with elections held on the 4th day. The results are announced on the following day.
The Young councilors’ tasks are to consult their electorate on decisions prepared by local councils; they also by organize debates devoted to local issues and coordinate local youth events such as local hip-hop concerts or the school football tournaments.
2) Map/Film of multicultural Sokołów
The aim of this project is to refresh the memory of a rich, multicultural society with a specific focus on the Jewish community that lived in eastern Poland before the Second World War. This project has been ongoing for three years project and was focused on young people living in Sokołów Podlaski, a small town in eastern Poland. Teams of young students took part in workshops, where they developed their knowledge of the culture and traditions of the Jewish community. As a result of this project a special website was published on town’s official website devoted to multicultural traditions of Sokołów; this was accompanied by a film about that community made by the students.