8 of November, was the date chosen for the NDCS project polish local seminar, using the celebration of the Polish Independence Day (11 of November) to open a discussion about Citizens’ rights and responsibilities in an independent and democratic state and to establish a parallel between democracy within a society and democracy at school, in order to introduce the tools created under the Network of Democratic Citizenship Schools (NDCS) project for improving school actors’ Participation and School Democracy.
In this event, around 130 participants had the opportunity to get in touch and experiment the Scale of Reference for “Participatory Citizenship Schools” and to discuss the Strategic Action Plan for the Promotion of Participation in IV LO. The participants were mainly students from the IV LO (92), but more than 30 participants were representatives of the Municipality of Rybnik, representative of Silesian Delegacy of Ministry of National Education (Kuratorium Oświaty), representatives of the Youth City Council and High Schools of Rybnik (8 schools), representatives from other SCO organizations and media.
The event was organized by CSO CRIS in partnership with IV Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Mikołaja Kopernika w Rybniku (IV LO).
The first part of the Seminar was dedicated was an introduction to the topic, moving from a theoretical understanding of independence and Democracy (as nation, citizens, groups of people, students, teachers, women, individuals, etc.) towards Citizens’ daily actions and behaviors that can boost Independence and Democracy. Invited experts presented different dimensions and views of Independence and Democracy:
– Dr. Jacek Kurek (lecturer on Silesian University and representative of a Museum in Chorzów) spoke about the historical path of Poland from the fight for Independence to the current democratic system;
– Piotr Małsowski (deputy of the President of The City of Rybnik) presented an input on the active or passive roles that citizens can play in the management of the city;
– Marek Szołtysek (historian, writer and columnist) spoke about the motivation for and the benefits of being active in decision-making processes;
– Anna Byrska (representative of Klub Jagielloński, coordinator of the program “The Academy of Modern Patriotism”) presented the program carried out under her coordination, aiming to provide knowledge on the democratic system and skills for active and responsible citizenship for young people all over Poland;
– Dominik Grabowski (President of Rybnik Youth City Council) spoke about the youth in Rybnik, their level of engagement, their opinion on what extent youth voice is valued or the available tools to support youth participation in Rybnik.
The presentation were followed by a discussion panel facilitated by the reporter from Radio Em – Łukasz Zych. The audience – especially youth – was also invited to share opinions and ask questions.
The second part of the Seminar was dedicated to the Network of Democratic Citizenship Schools project. Anna Pomykoł (polish project coordinator) and Mateusz Oleś (project volunteer and president of the School Council) presented the project aims, activities and results, including the school and country mapping findings, the IO Scale of Reference for Democratic Citizenship Schools and the Strategic Action Plan for the Promotion of Participation in IV LO.
The IO Scale of Reference for Democratic Citizenship Schools was not only presented but also partly tested with whole audience: each person in the audience, received a red and a green card and while the facilitators were asking questions from the Scale of Reference, the participants was answering yes (green) or no (red) and adding their comments. During the presentation of the Strategic Action Plan for the Promotion of Participation in IV LO, the audience was also invited to provide comments, make questions, add new ideas, etc.
Following a short artistic performance by school students, the Seminar was officially closed by IV LO School Principle and all participants were invited for a snack while continuing informal discussions.
The event proof that young people are interested in being active and responsible for making decisions, needing space and trust from adults. It was also important to reaffirm that active citizenship is a challenge that includes rights and responsibilities, that schools are key actors in promoting Democracy and that NDCS project IOs are valuable to support them.
This event on: