From their interaction with student self-government bodies and youth organisations, representatives of the Youth Parliament concluded that the former had problems understanding their role and appreciating their value in addressing and finding solutions to issues relevant to youth. This limited the impact and scope of their activities, something the Youth Parliament thought was due to a low level of civic competencies among school student council leaders. They then set out to address this deficit in knowledge of law and political culture.
The project “Student Self-Government: A Responsible Citizen Today and Tomorrow” aimed to attract the attention of regional policy makers to the problems of civic education and promote successful cases of civic competence development among student council leaders.
The project consisted of the following actions:
1. Consultations with teachers and representatives of student councils. Analysis of the documentation related to the work of student councils.
2. Group discussions, involving school students and graduates engaged in student council activities, on the project subject and related practices.
3. A training for representatives of student councils of 6 city schools for the purposes of developing the following competencies: personal motivation, knowledge of the self, communication skills, sense of responsibility, analytical and critical thinking, civic self-awareness, cooperation skills.
4. An interactive seminar for teachers, education organizers, and student leaders on development of civic competencies of school student council leaders.
5. Dissemination of information about the project through social media and on the website of the Youth Parliament.
According to the project coordinator Natalia Nazarova, project participants show an increased interest towards meaningful work within student councils, and improved their understanding and awareness of ways to participate in resolution of socially important problems; possibilities of further activities were also outlined. They also developed their skills in project planning and implementation, cooperation and team work. In total 150 people participated in the project, giving teenagers in the region a better understanding of the important role they play in addressing and finding solutions to issues relevant to youth.
“I learned a lot of new things, which are important for my future, I learned to express my opinions freely and not to be afraid of criticism!” said Ivanova, a school student.
The project increased school students’ interest in the activities of the student councils, and encouraged teachers and education organizers to understand the importance and, above all, the possibilities of meaningful work of teenagers in the school student councils.
A structure for cooperation among student council, youth organisations and the Youth Parliament of the Penza Region is currently being developed and new joint projects are under consideration.