Democracy starts at school

by Irina Gotișan-Sotnic

During 21st -25th May, pupils from all schools of Moldova had thematic lessons during the Electoral Information Week.

The watercolor’ scent floats in the air, the brushes are running diligently, the pencils and rubbers are at hand. Children, committed, are drawing their hopes on paper. Even if they don’t yet have the right to vote, pupils put their imagination to the test and, as best they can to illustrate the importance of voting.

Pupils from the gymnasium classes had the task, at their fine art lesson, to represent by drawing what it means to vote.

Bogdan Erhan is a 6th-grade pupil at “Ion Pelivan” high school in Razeni village, Ialoveni district. He wants to live in a state that functions properly and explains what is the meaning of his drawing:

Bogdan Erhan (right), along with his colleagues, is preparing for the fine art lesson.

“Moldova is a country with a lot of power, and with my vote and of other persons, is becoming stronger. Democracy means free and fair elections, as well as a political environment where citizens are actively participating in the decision-making process.”

His colleagues, Emilena and Catalina, explain what they have drawn on the paper.

“This drawing means that we can make our future through the vote and if we are forced to choose for a certain person, then we will not have the right to choose,” says confidently Emilena Budac.

Catalina Postica also explains what is the meaning of her work:

“My drawing means that everyone has the right to choose for his/her country, for his/her future, in this way, the country will thrive and have more freedom.”

Their teacher of fine art and technological education, Aurelia Mindrescu, is very proud of her disciples, both with their artistic skills and, also, with their newly received knowledge about the electoral process.

The fine art teacher, Aurelia Mindrescu, discusses with her pupils about the meaning of their drawings.

“We have to start to cultivate these skills now since they are very young. And when they will grow up will have the necessary knowledge in order to know how to choose the right candidate for them and for their country.”

The director of the “Ion Pelivan” High School, Natalia Raileanu, claims that such lessons develop pupils’ curiosity, but also their general culture:

“We are welcoming the idea that children should be taught what the right to vote means. It’s important to explain to them why is necessary to make a choice and how to make a right one.”

Pupils are drawing at the fine art lesson.

At the end of this school year, all pupils across the country had at their fine art classes the task to make a drawing on the topic — “Democracy counts! Your vote counts!” The lessons took place in the framework of the electoral information and civic education campaign “Democracy Matters”, initiated by the Central Electoral Commission. Thus, during the period of 21st -25th of May, the CEC, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Research, conducted the Electoral Information Week in every school from the country.

The fine art lessons took place in the framework of the electoral information and civic education campaign “Democracy Matters”, initiated by the CEC.

If the pupils from the gymnasium classes enjoyed drawing, then the undergraduate pupils had lessons on electoral topics at the Civic Education class. Some high schools hosted as special guests some representatives of the CEC, mass-media and and civil society.

The pupils of the “Mihai Viteazul” high school from the capital city during their break.

In “Onisifor Ghibu” and “Mihai Viteazul” high schools from Chisinau, at the Civic Education classes, pupils had as special guests the CEC chairperson and vice-president, Alina Russu and Rodica Ciubotaru, who spoke about the electoral processes and answer their questions.

The CEC’s chairperson, Alina Russu, stresses that:

The CEC’s chairperson, Alina Russu, holds a public lesson on electoral topics at the “Onisifor Ghibu” High School in Chisinau.

“We have talked in particular about the rights to vote and to be elected, because if we are talking, all the time, that we want to have in the Republic of Moldova a rule of law state, where the democratic exercise is achieved by organizing correct and freely expressed elections, then this achievement depends on each of us.”

Pupils from the “Onisifor Ghibu” high school learn new things about the rights to vote and to be elected, as well as other aspects of the electoral processes.

Rodica Ciubotaru, the vice-president of the CEC, says:

The CEC’s vice-president, Rodica Ciubotaru, holds a public lesson on electoral topics at the “Mihai Viteazul” high school in Chisinau.

“We intended to discuss the electoral process, about the new changes of the electoral system and how the young people can be involved in the decision-making process.”

Pupils at “Mihai Viteazul” high school discuss the new changes of the electoral system and how young people can involve in the decision-making process.

Teachers of high schools where public lessons on electoral topics took place are delighted that their pupils had such unusual lessons. The teacher Ion Cotorobai of the Razeni High School says that the Civic Education course puts him in the situation to inform the younger generation about what a democratic society means, about the activity of political parties and of the non-governmental organizations. In the teacher’s opinion, pupils are those who, in the years to come, will get involved in the state’s affairs. They are the future ministers, prime ministers or deputies of this country.

“We, as teachers, respect the norms of the institution, but in some situations we invite guests, who are specialists in different fields. For example, if we are discussing about health area, we invite a doctor, if we are studying the democratic society chapter, then we invite a politician, a political scientist or a sociologist. Pupils are used to the teacher, but when they have guests, they are more interested to pay attention.“

Natalia Moraru, teacher of the History and Civic Education at “Onisifor Ghibu” High School, from Chisinau, notes:

Natalia Moraru, the teacher of the History and Civic Education at the “Onisifor Ghibu” High School, is discussing with her pupils.

“This campaign was very important because pupils are very eager to know new things, especially because we have children who are not yet 18 years old and they have discovered a lot of new and interesting things for them.”

Some high-school pupils, in the next parliamentary elections, will go to vote for the first time and they are very keen to learn about this democratic exercise.
Vera Bucataru, teacher of History and Civic Education at “Mihai Viteazu” High School, is introducing the special guest, the vice-president of the CEC Rodica Ciubotaru, to her pupils.

“Democracy Matters campaign is very useful for our pupils, especially those in the grades XI-XII, who are future voters. Some of them are already 18 years old and they have to take the responsibility for the future of the state,” says Vera Bucataru, teacher of History and Civic Education at “Mihai Viteazu” high school from the capital city.

During the Electoral Information Week, as special guests, the executive director of the non-governmental organization ADEPT, Igor Botan and the founder of the youth portal diez.md, Alexandru Lebedev, were invited as well.

The Executive Director of ADEPT, Igor Botan, explains to pupils from Razeni what it means to live in a community and what is the role of the young people.
The political analyst Igor Botan conducting a public lesson at the high school in Razeni, Ialoveni.

“Information and training are indispensable for socializing people, especially for children. You can not socialize children, so as to they feel part of a community, unless you give them instructions and explain what it means to be part of a community, what kind of behavioral code should a child adopt. It is very important to understand that children often catch things and assimilate them intuitively. Therefore, informing and explaining is something that adds knowledge to that what a child experiences from intuition. Intuition helps him/her a lot, but information and education heightens his/her connection with the community and strengthens his/her behavioral pattern,” notes Igor Botan, after visiting “Ion Pelivan” high school from Razeni.

Igor Botan emphasizes that informing and educating young people strengthens their connection with the community they are part of.

The journalist Alexandru Lebedev decided to go to the school he graduated from, “Liviu Deleanu” high school from the capital city and shared his feelings after he conducted the lesson.

The journalist Alexandru Lebedev is conducting a public lesson at “Liviu Deleanu” high school from Chisinau.

“I really enjoy to observe the way of thinking of the youth, because everything that is surrounding them, this “bubble” in which they live, influences all of us a lot. Therefore, such discussions should take place in high schools more often and not necessarily as public lessons, even as informal discussions. Usually, pupils, being involved in discussions, during the lessons, they get marks and if somebody is talking too much, makes him/her to question about whether this thing is good or bad, but informal discussions develop critical and analytical sense of the young persons. If I compare the high school when I was a pupil here, it’s very different from that time. It’s a bit touching to be here again, for example, in this classroom I used to have the Russian language class.”

Alexander Lebedev argues that such discussions should be organized as often as possible in all schools of Moldova, because in such way critical and analytical sense of the youth are being developed.

The Electoral Information Week is part of the electoral information and civic education campaign “Democracy Matters”, initiated by the Central Electoral Commission. The campaign is conducted in the framework of the UNDP Moldova’s project “Enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections”, with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the British Embassy in Chisinau through the Good Governance Fund and the Embassy of Netherlands through the Matra Program.

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