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“What? Where? When?”- the game what helped the pupils to learn more about elections

by Irina Gotisan-Sotnic

60 pupils from all around the country participated in the final of the intellectual game “What? Where? When? “ on electoral topics. The tie score and the suspense did not scare them, on contrary, they were enthusiastic, full of joy and with positive emotions.

The competition started a year ago, initiated by the Centre for Continuous Electoral Training (CCET), by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and was organized with the support of the Moldovan Club of Intellectual Games “What? Where? When?”. The electoral education of young people through an intellectual game is an innovation for the Republic of Moldova.

Laura Schimbator is a pupil at the Republican High School “Aristotel” from the capital city and is representing the team who won the intellectual competition. She shares her emotions and impressions accumulated during a year, and especially after her team received the winning trophy.

“The experience of participation meant, first of all, learning many new things about the electoral system, elections, and about what it means to vote and to be an active citizen. We had the opportunity to get acquainted with many people as interested as we are, who have the same passions and with whom we will be friends. The information we have gained is very useful and it will be very helpful during other “What? Where? When?” games, because we are a team who often participates in such competitions, but we need this information not only for contests but, in general, for our common knowledge.”

Laura’s team and high school colleague, Ioana Vatamanu-Margineanu, noted: “It is very nice what CCET is doing here because it gives us, young people, the opportunity to do what we like — to play games in such wonderful atmosphere with teams from all over the country. I met students who share same interests as me, at the same time, we mixed business and pleasure of learning about electoral campaigns and electoral processes, because we have now a new electoral system and as first time voters, because on February 24 we will vote too, we need to know what the mixed system means and how to vote properly.”

The intellectual game “What? Where? When?” was held for the first time in September 2017 and until the year ended, six games took place in different high schools throughout the country. The games continued in 2018 too and were organized five more rounds. In total, participated in 527 pupils from over 70 high schools across the Republic of Moldova. After the competition at the school level, the best teams competed at the district level and in the grande finale played the best-prepared teams from 10 high schools.

The concept of the game “What? Where? When?“ consists of addressing intelligence, logic, erudition, or perspicacity questions, on electoral topic, to participating teams, which consist of six members each. The participants have one minute to give an answer by writing it on paper and which is checked by a jury who decides its correctness. Each correct answer is worth one point, the team that accumulates the biggest number of points is victorious.

“The purpose of these activities is to gain more knowledge through interactive methods, to develop erudition and to raise civic participation among youth. We hope that the knowledge they have acquired will have an impact over time and they will be those active citizens that our society needs,” says the CCET’s deputy director Angela Caraman.

Another participant of the game, Maxim Mazur, is from Drochia and studies at the “B. P. Hasdeu” High School. He mentions that he decided to be involved in this intellectual competition in order to find out more about the electoral field: “I have learned what the mixed electoral system means, what are the advantages and disadvantages of it and when I go to vote, I will be well prepared to fulfill my civic duty.”

Maxim’s teacher, Rodica Cucuietu, who has come to support her disciples at this contest, believes that it is essential for the first-time voters to be aware that their participation in the election is one of the most important rights which they have to exercise.

“We worked very hard all this time and started our preparation by studying the Electoral Code. The children were curious and they even liked it. I am a little bit nervous, maybe even more than they are. I have big expectations because I realize that we have quite strong competitors. We are beginners and for us is important to participate and learn from this experience. We “caught the virus” of this intellectual game and are full of desire to participate in other such competitions in order to demonstrate our capabilities. The kids really enjoyed it and, as you can see, the bustle during the game is the best energizer and motivation to participate again.”

Ion Rapcea from “Boris Danga” High School from Criuleni has already a quite rich experience in participating in activities on electoral topics. A month ago, he has been an independent candidate for the Student’s School Board elections based on the mixed electoral system rules, organized with the support of the CCET’s electoral experts. And if in that competition Ion ran into the electoral race on his own, at “What? Where? When?” game he relied on the mates from his high school and learned how important is to work in a team.

Ion says that: “this game creates a very strong team spirit and an even greater desire to work in such a united team. It was a productive experience because we found out very important information about the electoral system of the Republic of Moldova.”

And Alexandra Beregoi from Razeni village (Ialoveni district), a student at “Ion Pelivan” High School, agrees that the electoral education is very important to help citizens to form their opinions and to make decisions, mentioning that she and her colleagues are due to vote for the first time in February at the parliamentary elections. Alexandra, like Ion Rapcea, underlines the importance of teamwork and the responsibility of each member.

“This contest is an interactive method to teach us about different types of elections from other countries and from Moldova. Being young we are interested to gain more knowledge. During the game, we have to rely on specific information, not general ones, and the first thought which come on mind is probably the right answer. This game forms the team spirit, learns us how to work together. The “What? Where? When?” game has certain rules and each person must be responsible for a certain thing, a certain science, a certain field, and the communion of all our knowledge must result in a correct answer.”

Octavian Sireteanu, the president of the Moldovan Club of Intellectual Games, says that during one year, together with the CCET experts, he traveled far and wide across the country. “Usually, for our clubs’ games we have questions from different fields, but when the game is focused on one topic it’s a bit more difficult, but not impossible. The strongest impression I have is that the young people do not differ so much, no matter if they are from Chisinau, Drochia, Ungheni or other localities. Everywhere I saw interest and the young people were trying to think and to give the right answer.”

The intellectual game “What? Where? When?”, on electoral topic, is an interactive method of teaching and educating young people, as they are representing the power of the development and that “wind of change” our society needs”, thinks the CCET’s deputy director, Angela Caraman.

“We are grateful to the teachers because at each stage they were with us and contributed to the good organization of this competition. They accompanied their students and experienced emotions for them. The best four teams will have the opportunity to play a “What? Where? When?” game organized by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.”

During this year, the CEC and CCET, within the electoral information and civic education campaign, unfolded numerous activities for young people. In addition to classical training, an innovative approach has been taken. Thus, for young people were organized: the “Electoral Week” (May 2018), the “Electoral Month” (September-October 2018), the InnoVoter hackathon, the National Youth Forum, as well as many other activities and events. All these took place with the UNDP Moldova’s project “Enhancing democracy in Moldova through inclusive and transparent elections” support.

Project manager at UNDP Moldova, Eva Bounegru, says: “Today’s young people are more connected to what’s happening around. They have access to more information, to more advanced technologies, so the classical way of learning sometimes bore them, especially when it comes to a very technical and less understood field like the electoral one. That’s why the innovative methods are welcome, and the intellectual game “What? Where? When?” is a great way of learning and empowering young voters.”

The intellectual game “What? Where? When?”, on electoral topic, took place within the electoral information and civic education campaign “Democracy can be learned”, conducted by CCET. 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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