Children and young people joined the “Democracy Days 2022” campaign
Several educational institutions around the country hosted public lessons, lectures, debates, and role-playing games. All these to make information about democracy, electoral systems, and participation more available and easier to understand.
This year, the International Day of Democracy, traditionally celebrated on 15 September, was marked in educational institutions of Moldova throughout a week. As part of the “Democracy Days” communication campaign, held during 12–16 September 2022, future voters from kindergartens, high schools, and universities learned about democracy by participating in public lectures held by the members of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and the trainers of the Centre for Continuous Electoral Training (CCET).
Kids chose their favorite fruit and voted, by applying the stamp on the ballot paper, for the cartoon they would get to watch during play breaks. As for the older ones, they found out what “4D Elections” means, tried their best at presenting electoral programs and even put themselves in the shoes of election officials, candidates, and observers.
University students competed in debates around the topics of mandatory voting, introduction of electronic voting, party financing, lowering the voting age to 16, and, at the end, everyone expressed their opinion by voting “for” or “against” these changes.
As part of the campaign, all participants of the democracy lessons, along with the libraries of the educational institutions, which hosted the event, received gifts — informative materials and sets of thematic books.
Democracy Days in Cantemir and Cahul
The “Democracy Days” communication campaign started out in the educational institutions of Cantemir and Cahul. The teams from CEC and CCET spoke to young people about the importance of elections in a democratic state, about the power of voting and their civic involvement.
Mădălina Știrbu, student in the 12th grade at the “Dimitrie Cantemir” high school in the city of Cantemir, participated in the democracy lesson at her school and told us that the topic of democracy should be addressed more often in high schools, including in lessons and at school events.
“In a democracy we can make choices. That’s why it’s important for young people to vote and make the choices that will bring them the changes they want,” Mădălina stated.
Although she still does not know if she will opt for a career in politics, Mădălina tried her luck in the competition to present electoral platforms. She chose the “Environmental Party”, outlined her arguments and tried to convince her colleagues that, without a clean and healthy environment, no society can have a future.
Mădălina’s classmate, Denis Zelea, also a 12th grade student, shared his impressions of the lesson as well and admitted that he wants to enter politics and become a MP one day and that such events are of great interest to him.
“Democracy is the key to a civilized state. I think young people need to read more about democracy and human rights. We need to have a political culture to be able to make the right choices,” said Denis.
Democracy Days at “Bogdan Petriceicu Hașdeu” University in Cahul meant more than just a public lecture. It was an unforgettable communication experience, in which each student found confirmation of their value in the process of strengthening democracy and the most ambitious of them — found inspiration for becoming a future leader.
Vlad Moga, a second-year student at the Law Faculty, said that younger generations should be more active, because the people are the ones who should be ruling the country and their fate should not be put in the hands of a single person.
“Democracy offers many opportunities for development. I believe that young people should get involved in public life to help society reach a higher, more prosperous standard of living. With the help of democracy in Republic of Moldova, a lot could change in the country’s economy and justice sector,” Vlad told us.
Liliana Cațavel, also a second-year law student, mentioned that youngsters are the ones who must know about the opportunities of democracy, because the future belongs to them and they must choose it by going to vote.
“Democracy is the only political system where people have a stance in creating their own future. If we want changes, we, the young people, must be braver, express our opinions and get more involved in society’s life,” Liliana pointed out.
Alexandru Berlinschii, the secretary of the CEC, held several open lectures for the young people of Cantemir and Cahul and is of the opinion that democracy should be learned at school and practiced within the student councils, so that it can later be utilized in public institutions by future officials.
“The quality of an electoral process depends on the involvement of each one of us. Over 25,000 civil servants participate in an election, and about 2.5 million come to the voting boxes. Regrettably, there is a low turnout of young voters at the polling stations, therefore, the ‘Democracy Days’ campaign in educational institutions is welcome to send them the message that their vote matters,” said Alexandru Berlinschii.
Bălți high school and university joined the “Democracy Days” Campaign
The students and teachers from “Alecu Russo” University in Bălți joined the “Democracy Days” campaign with great enthusiasm and desire for debates.
The interactive part of the lesson was also the most engaging one. Pavel Postică, the vice-president of the CEC, who held the open lesson, challenged future voters with several questions about participatory democracy. The young people were surprised to learn that from the age of 18 they can already run for the position of local councilor or deputy in the Parliament and from the age of 25, for the position of mayor. They also learned why they should participate in elections, how to register in the electoral race as candidates, how to run an electoral campaign and how to assume responsibilities of representation and public participation.
Pavel Postică, vice-president of the CEC, told them that we are all beneficiaries of a direct democracy and have the right to elect the members of the Parliament, the President of the country, but also the representatives of the local public authorities. But, until now there are still countries where the fight is going on to benefit from this right, including for a direct democracy.
“Many of us, by refusing to participate in the elections, are actually throwing in the trash the memory of all those who fought to obtain for them, but also for us, this right and privilege,” declared Pavel Postică.
The “Democracy Days” communication campaign has also reached the high school “Mihai Eminescu” in Bălți. The students learned what “4D Elections” means and created their own electoral platform for a “political party” from the three choices proposed by the CCET trainers — “Sports Party”, “Business Party” and “Ecologist Party”. They presented it as best as they could, after which they participated in public debates. And the most ambitious pupils experienced the roles of election officials and observers. In the end, out of the three “parties” that competed in the school election, the “Business Party” won.
Young people from Comrat are more informed about the opportunities to participate in the electoral and decision-making processes
The State University of Comrat opened wide its doors to the “Democracy Days” campaign. During a public lecture held by the president of the Central Electoral Commission, Angelica Caraman, the first- and second-year students learned interesting things about the electoral system in our country, as well as the opportunities to participate in the electoral and decision-making processes.
For the young people from Comrat, the public lesson was not only an opportunity to learn something new about the democratic system, but also a chance to express their visions regarding their involvement in society, as well as to be inspired for a career in the public domain. They also took part in a discussion about mandatory voting, the introduction of electronic voting, party financing, lowering the voting age to 16, and, at the end, everyone expressed their opinion by voting “for” or “against” these subjects.
On the same day, the trainers from CCET visited the students from the “Simion Baranovski” high school in Copceac village, Comrat municipality, to convey the message of democracy and the power of voting.
Irina Cabac, a student in the 12th grade at the “Simion Baranovski” high school in the village of Copceac, participated with great interest in the democracy lesson organized by the trainers from CCET, because she recently came of age and wants to vote in the next elections. Irina believes in the power of young people and their ability to mobilize and choose their future.
“During history and civic education lessons, we often discuss democracy, all aspects of youth involvement in public life and elections. Therefore, I can confidently say that students at my school know what democracy means and will be able to participate in the governance of the country. Today’s lesson inspired me to choose the faculty I will be attending after high school. It will be Law,” said Irina Cabac.
Dmitrii Arfonos, a student in the 12th grade at the same high school, told us that he is passionate about politics and follows everything that happens in the country. In his opinion, young people are a force with great political potential and if they were more active, we would see more changes.
“I think that in our country there is a fairly developed democracy. I watched the last local and presidential elections and I think they were free and fair. Social problems are being solved, although most of them require important investments, but also some efforts on the part of the population,” says Dmitrii.
Angelica Caraman, CEC president, referring to the “Democracy Days” campaign in educational institutions, mentioned that it aimed to encourage young people to be active citizens, to ask questions and seek answers to them, to know their rights and their responsibilities.
“Every 2nd 18-year-old went out to vote on 11 July 2021. This result encourages us to continue to focus on the civic education of citizens. We diversify the activities and messages and our beneficiaries are starting from kindergarten, school, university to older voters. Through inclusion, accessibility, and awareness, we will come to enjoy a genuine democracy. By learning about democracy, we become free people and responsible citizens,” stated the president of CEC, Angelica Caraman.
According to the director of CCET, Dr. Doina Bordeianu, the education of voters is an investment in the future, because an educated generation is aware of its civic value and the tools of civic participation that it has at its disposal in a democracy.
“We, at the Center for Continuous Training in the Electoral Field, demonstrate every day that democracy is taught! We explain to people — voters and future voters — how valuable their voice is, how powerful their vote is and what transformations can occur through engagement and civic participation. On 15 September, we celebrate democracy and our right to choose — which country we want to live in, who we want to be governed by and what our future should look like,” said Doina Bordeianu.
Democracy explained by children
In the context of the International Day of Democracy, we went to the “Sălcioara” kindergarten in Stăuceni locality, Chișinău municipality and asked the children in the preparatory group what is, in their opinion, democracy, children’s rights, elections, what are the qualities of a good leader and why, in a democracy, it is important to respect the law.
The children from the kindergarten in Stăuceni participated in electoral education activities and know not only how to explain to adults what democracy is, but also to defend it even if they are still little. This is possible thanks to the training and didactic materials offered to kindergartens by the Center for Continuous Training in the Electoral Field, with the support of UNDP Moldova.
The communication campaign “Democracy Days” reached over 1500 children, pupils, and students from Bălți, Cahul, Comrat, Cantemir, Căuşeni, and Chișinău. The campaign was organized on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, marked annually on 15 September, with the support of the UNDP Moldova Project “Enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections”, funded by USAID.