The Institute for Democracy (Comrat) in partnership with Association for Bulgarian Culture “Rodoliubets” (Parkani) and the Center for Protection and Promotion of Young Women’s Rights (Chisinau), has started the implementation of the project “Raising Mutual Trust between Teachers on Both Banks of the Nistru River: Building Regional Capacities for Continuous Development of Teachers’ Skills of the Modern Pro-active Methods of Human Rights Education”, in December, 2016 in Moldova, within the program of confidence-building measures, financed by the European Union.
Reports of the international organizations and foreign embassies in Moldova show the lack of democracy in Moldova (especially in the Transnistrian region).
The democracy development depends on the people’s understanding of the human rights: only if the majority of citizens share the democratic values, the democracy development in Moldova (incl. Transnistria) will be successful and stable. The evidence of the important role of human rights awareness is the fact that totalitarian and authoritarian regimes try to establish control over the information provided to schoolchildren in educational institutions and via mass media. However, the absence of the totalitarian government itself does not create the stable democracy.
One of the main reasons of the indifferent attitude of the society and the youth towards the human rights and democratic values is unawareness of the importance of democracy and human rights for the citizens. As a result, there is no powerful social stratum of citizens ready to protect human rights and develop democracy in Moldova and the Transnistrian region. Therefore, the authorities feel no necessity of reforms, while the society does not monitor their activity. As a result, Moldova and the Transnistrian region face the negative trend of the development of democracy and the political and social activity of the youth. This trend is caused by the fact that high school teachers have received their education in the USSR. This education was based on the rejection of the values of Western democracy and the resistance against the “Western world”; its main social objective was fostering “an obedient citizen of the USSR loyal to the Soviet power”. Having received such an education in the USSR, many of the teachers even now continue using the above mentioned methods of education, they cannot explain the significance of democracy and human rights to schoolchildren, and they are not able to develop schoolchildren’s leadership skills and ideals of democracy. As a consequence of such education, a part of the Moldavian young people misunderstands democracy and has a negative attitude towards it (the poll of Opinia agency shows that 56 per cent of Moldavian population feel nostalgia for the Soviet regime). So we have to cancel the use of conservative Soviet methods in teaching the politics, based on the priority of a state over a personality and ignoring the democratic values.
That is why the proper education for human rights is extremely important for Moldova and Transnistrian region. Unfortunately, education for democracy is not in the focal point of state education system in Moldova and Transnistrian region. The above mentioned situation is complicated by the political apathy of youth that is not ready to defend the democracy values (e.g. as it is in Georgia, Ukraine). The reason of this apathy is the lack of their understanding of the crucial importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for stable democracy development.
For the same reason, authorities do not feel the need for any democratic reforms. Our action addresses the above mentioned competence gap, involving young people into the process of democratic transition in Moldova (especially in the Transnistrian region). Schoolteachers play an important part in changing this mentality. The importance of training teachers in methods of teaching human rights is explained by the fact that schools are the places where children acquire civic ideals and values. In this situation, the efficacy of the human rights education depends on the behavior and knowledge of teachers. After getting the knowledge of the modern methods of human rights education, teachers themselves will inform pupils of civic values and ideals skillfully and freely during their own classes.
Having received education in the USSR, many of the teachers even nowadays continue using the above mentioned methods of education, they cannot explain the significance of democracy to schoolchildren (over 73 % of teachers in Transnistria have more than 15 years’ working experience, which means that they were not formally trained to use active teaching methods). As a consequence of such education, a part of young people of Moldova (incl. Transnistrian region) misunderstands democracy and has a negative attitude towards it. The situation with human rights education in Moldova (incl. Transnistrian region) is especially complicated. Schoolteachers are absolutely unaware of modern pro-active human rights education methods. The lack of contacts with the teachers from Western countries and Moldova has also had a negative impact on the teachers’ knowledge. The teachers trained within the project will use gained knowledge about the modern pro-active methods of human rights education. That will result in strengthening young people’s loyalty to democracy and bringing up the social class based on the democratic values, ready to participate in politics and defend their rights and democracy in Moldova and Transnistria.
Changing the methods of bringing up young people from the Soviet to modern democratic ones is extremely important today for those communities where high school teachers and principals have never studied and have never even had the possibility of studying it, and the textbooks were aimed at discrediting democratic ideas.
Young people should get the proper education in order to be able to understand and evaluate their rights and duties as citizens of the democratic society. This kind of education is expected not only to give people the possibility to become aware of the basic concepts and practice of democracy and human rights, but also to bring up citizens adherent to principles, independent, broad-minded, able to think analytically, and devoted to democratic ideas. The long-term aim of our programme is establishing a culture where human rights are understood, protected, and respected. Teachers will understand that effective human rights education needs to be, above all, learner-centred: it has to begin from the needs, preferences, abilities, and desires of each person.
Since 1992, the Republic of Moldova, with the support of the EU, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe, has been trying to restore its integrity, offering broad autonomy to Transnistria. However, the conflict has not been settled yet. One of the basic reasons is the lack of trust between the citizens of Moldova and Transnistria (especially after the armed conflict which took place in 1992). The younger post-conflict generation who has never lived in the single state of Moldova has already grown up. This generation of young people has been brought up used to the anti-Moldavian propaganda (about 98 per cent of the population of Transnistria regard Moldova as the enemy and are reluctant to associate with it). They believe that in Moldova, human rights are breached, and the level of nationalism is high.
For building confidence building measures, Transnistrian young people should be given knowledge of the real situation in Moldova. This cannot be done via mass media, as media is under the control of the authorities of Transnistria. The only way of informing young people of Transnistria is involving the people who enjoy their trust and respect. Therefore, we would like to train Transnistrian teachers as a part of the project. The authorities of Transnistria do not allow informing the teachers about the real situation in Moldova. Therefore, we will organize training for teachers using modern Western methods of human rights education. They will be acquainted with the situation in Moldova through joint activities for teachers from Moldova and Transnistria, mutual communication, and Transnistrian teachers’ visit to schools in Moldova. After getting the knowledge of the modern methods of human rights education, teachers themselves will inform pupils of civic values and ideals skillfully and freely during their own classes. Trained Transnistrian teachers will transform young people into the social class based on the democratic values, ready to participate in politics and defend the democracy. As the authorities of Transnistria prohibit working with young people in the sphere of human rights education, our project is the only way of informing young people about the situation in the Transnistrian region and Moldova and developing schoolchildren’s civic engagement. Without changing the young people’s attitude towards Moldova in Transnistria, reuniting Moldova is impossible.
The reason for the civil apathy of the youth is that nobody is actively working with them. And teachers play an important role in the effective work with young people. The importance of training teachers with the methods of teaching democracy and citizenship in schools is due to the fact that schools form democratic ideals and values of schoolchildren. In this situation, the effectiveness of democratic education of young people depends on teachers’ behavior and knowledge. Having received knowledge about the role of democracy, modern pro-active methods of civic education, within the framework of this project, teachers will, skillfully and unobtrusively, educate students about democratic values and ideals, in the course of their lessons in schools and universities. It is in schools that children can learn the basics of democracy and grow up democratically formed personalities.
Without training teachers (to use their knowledge in working with young people), changing the situation for the better is practically impossible. Training of teachers will lead to an increase of civic engagement of young people, as well as to widening knowledge of Transnistrian youth about the real situation in Moldova.
Our specific objectives in:
- Cancelling the use of conservative Soviet teaching methods and capacity building for continuously training the teachers from the Transnistrian region and Moldova to the modern pro-active methods of human rights education listed in the Council of Europe’s Manual “COMPASS”.
- Supporting mutual understanding between teachers’ communities from the Transnistrian region and Moldova by participating in common activities and mutual visits.
- Institutionalisation of the consultation mechanisms between NGOs and education institutions aimed at continuously updating teaching methods adequate to meet current challenges.
- Creating an infrastructure and permanent contacts to promote trust and sharing the experience between the Human Rights Education Network members and teachers.
- Contributing to establishing partnerships and sustainable cooperation between education institutions, teachers and NGOs from Moldova and the Transnistrian region.
- The teachers’ knowledge about the real situation in Moldova will increase, and they will inform their pupils about it.
- Contributing to developing democratic ideals and values among the teachers who are accustomed to the totalitarian way of supervision, as only the teachers who share the democratic ideals can teach their pupils democracy in an effective way.
- enhancing young people’s critical thinking and contributing to the growth of democratic transformation in Transnistria by means of training the Transnistrian teachers and informing them of the methods of developing young people’s civic engagement.
- enhancing young people’s loyalty to democracy and improving the access of Transnistrian young people to enjoying human rights and shaping an active social class ready to protect human rights and solve the Transnistrian conflict.
The broad timeframe of the action is 24 months.
Target groups: (1) Schoolteachers (the Transnistrian region and Moldova). The teachers will implement the received knowledge in the process of teaching at schools (each teacher will train at least 90-170 schoolchildren per year); (2) Trainers of the Human Rights Education Network.
Final beneficiaries: Young people from the Transnistrian region and Moldova, teachers, educational institutions.