Modern Education Foundation
When public boards were created parents were not enthusiastic as they were given responsibilities to decide on school budget, curricula, textbooks etc. Parents were not familiar with school life and suddenly they had to participate actively in it. 4 years later things are changing. Public boards are influencing school education more than ever. Our goal is to enhance parent involvement in school governance by identifying and addressing the challenges of parental engagement in shaping school life.
The project will take place in the North East planning region of Bulgaria.
The North East planning region of Bulgaria includes the following districts: Varna, Dobrich, Targovishte and Shumen which represent about 13% of the territory of Bulgaria. It is the smallest planning region in Bulgaria. Usually civic participation in different areas is more intense in and around the capital Sofia that is why we have decided to implement such a project in this region – the most distant region from Sofia and a region with large numbers of socially disadvantaged groups. Thus we think we can reach and empower representatives of these groups to be more active in the decision making process in public schools. The region continues to be one of the last in terms of Regional GDP per capita in purchasing power parity (PPS) as a percentage of the EU-27 average.
The participation of civil society in every aspect of governance is the key to a successful democratic process. The lack of good information about the channels through which civil society and the individual can participate in the management of a public sphere is often the reason for insufficient public involvement in governance issues. Public administration in the field of pre-school and school education is one of the key public activities in which public participation should be at an extremely high level. Through the implementation of our idea, wide publicity will be achieved for the ways in which civil society can participate in public administration in the field of education and, in particular, the functions and role of school public boards.
Direct target group of the current proposal are the parents who are currently not actively involved in the newly established school public boards. The general aim is to demonstrate to them the necessity of taking part in these boards to ensure quality provision of education and transparent governance of schools. We also aim to indirectly target the students as parent participation in school decision-making is considered effective for reducing school drop-out. The Ministry of Education and Science and schools could also be perceived as beneficiaries. Based on the foreseen survey we aim to elaborate recommendations to schools and to the Ministry in order to further re-design, if applicable, the characteristics of the public boards and improve parent engagement.
A survey will be conducted on how citizens see the role of public boards. The survey will also analyse the status of existing boards and the level of involvement of different representatives. Survey results will outline the directions in which interventions should be made to achieve greater involvement and more active participation of different social groups. Results will be discussed at round tables and recommendations will be made how to strengthen the civil participation. Survey results and recommendations will be presented to national and local authorities but also to isolated and remote communities that are not so familiar with the functions of public boards. Thus, this new method of civic influence and governance will reach the knowledge of marginalized groups and communities.
Four years after the creation of public boards in Bulgarian schools, things are slowly beginning to change. However, still some members of families, including ones from disadvantaged families and also other members of society are too cautious or inactive when it comes to participation in school public boards. The implementation of this project will accelerate this change and will involve more participants from families and local communities in the decision making process in public schools. The project will show these participants that their voice matters, they just have to be active and learn how to get more involved.
Across Europe, there is a tendency for people to be less and less interested in areas of public life with which they are not in direct contact. However, this does not help to strengthen democracy, because civil society must be active in every sphere of public life, no matter how directly the individual is affected. Through the implementation of this idea, we will show that each individual can and must be involved in decision-making processes on issues that concern our common future as a democratic Europe. The activities will be also directed to strengthening the participation of parents from disadvantaged and Roma families in decision taking.
Very often, beside teachers and students, other members of civil society are not well informed about the processes that take place in education and the ways in which they can influence or advise these processes. That is why the realization of this idea is important for us, because it will allow a wide range of people to be involved in the democratic decision-making processes for the management of such a significant for the younger generation social sphere of life.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
1. Travel and accommodation: 5,000 EUR
2. Event organisation (round tables; seminars): 6,000 EUR
3. Office expenses: 2,000 EUR
4. Staff costs: 36,000 EUR
We would be happy to receive feedback from other participants in the platform to share the role of such public boards in their national education systems so that our idea can be further developed in a cross-border aspect.