The USAID Responsible Accountable Democratic Assembly activity (RADA) organized International Parliamentary Technical Assistance Coordination Meeting “Civic education programs in democratic and political processes” on February 28.
IFES Ukraine together with USAID RADA Program partners Agency of Legal Initiatives, Internews Ukraine and Civil Network OPORA presented their recent activities which foster citizen participation in policy-making and democratic governance. Around 30 donors, representatives of international organizations, embassies, NGOs came to discuss the possibility to coordinate activities in order to lead to civic learning and increase democratic engagement.
Opening the discussion, Ihor Kogut, Chief of Party of the USAID RADA Program, emphasized that civic education is a crucial topic of the approaching elections and civic engagement:
“USAID RADA Program by this meeting launches the coordination process between organizations which work on civic education. Impetus for today's topic is systematic work of our Program in the field of civic engagement: implementation of the "Model Districts" Project intended to improve communication and interaction between MPs and voters as well as employ e-democracy toolkit in parliamentary work, citizens monitoring of the Parliament."
"Recently, we had an opportunity to organize a meeting between deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, German Bundestag, representatives of local authorities and non-governmental organizations. Honestly, I did not get the impression that people have a clear understanding of how to interact with the authorities. We see that there is still much work to do".
George Kobakhidze, IFES Senior Operations and Civic Education Officer:
The focus of our presentation specifically is civic education course that IFES will be piloting at 8 universities in the fall of this year. The course is Democracy from theory to practice which aims to step away from people from theoretical aspects and stepping to practical. The methodology of the course closely aligns with Council of Europe Charter on Education for democratic citizenship and human rights education. It is also closely aligned with Ukraine’s Ministry Education of Science vision how to foster active participation.
The goal is to strengthen not only the knowledge but also skills, values, and attitudes that are associated universally with students’ effective democratic citizenship. The content covers gender equality, minority rights, rule of law and others related topics.
Svitlana Matvienko, Chairwoman of the Board of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives:
Thanks to the USAID RADA Program, we were able to publish editions that became the starting point for many projects. When we were designing civic component, we decided that the aim will be to raise awareness: active involvement of citizens in the legislative process and the formation of a civic position for the control of power, the formation of politics and the development of democratic institutions.
Agency of Legal Initiatives has developed instruments for different age groups and categories of the population. For teachers of secondary schools - methodical recommendations on ithe themes (modules) "Election process", "Political system in Ukraine: citizens' participation", "Legislation for youth" and "Youth in government programs".
For youth (NGOs, students, assistants of MPs, the Verkhovna Rada Secretariate) - 1) trainings for youth: "Effective involvement in the legislative process" and "The role of citizens in the requirements of government accountability", "Youth in Government Programs". On the basis of training materials jointly with Internews Ukraine hosted 3 webinars on the same topics. Every year an international scientific conference "Parliamentary Readings" is organized.
For CSOs Training "Advocacy of Bills" was held, Guiding principles "Advocacy activity and its peculiarities in work with parliament", recommendations for tracking bills for CSO representatives.
If we form our work in blocks, then it will be: 1) videos and films on civic education 2) webinars in cooperation with Agency of Legal Initiatives 3) information campaigns 4) public eventsSince 2015, we have released videos and films for children about parliamentary processes and the functions of the Verkhovna Rada. In 2017, we also produced a film about the Budget Process, which explain complex process in details. We promote our videos in social media, during public events and on the TV channel RADA. This year we will promote social videos on national TV channels.We also organized 4 webinars where participants could ask questions.In order to institutionalize our experience, we made 2 publications on communicating reforms and practical recommendations.We also conducted public reporting of deputies and are currently in the process of developing Infobus together with the Verkhovna Rada.
Andriy Savchuk, Civil Network OPORA analyst on the work of parliamentary committees:
Within the USAID RADA Program, we held 268 events (public discussions, press conferences, lectures in universities, training and information forums) in 2015-2017. As we see, over 4,000 people have participated in our public events.
In addition, we also produced the "Dear Deputies", "Parliament.Re:Form" and "Re:Form", which received the "Honor of the Profession" award in the specialty "Building a New Ukraine Together".
Moreover, we have developed tools for monitoring Parliament: service "They vote for you" and a map of constituencies and subventions.