Community development

Free Democratic School in Košice

We aim to set up a free democratic school, raise awareness about alternative education in Slovakia and create a ‘franchising packet’ comprising our experiences and providing the information to others.


Who is behind this?

Juraj Mazák

Ťahanovská záhrada


Who is joining forces?

Donum Felix (Primary School)

Czech Republic

Jezek Bez Klece (Primary School)

Czech Republic

Lipana n.o. (not-for-profit n.g.o.)


Vráťme deti prírode o.z. (Let’s Return Children to Nature c.s.o.) -Slovakia Stará Hôra o.z. (c.s.o.) -Slovakia INESS o.z. (c.s.o.)- Institute of Economic and Social Analysis - -Slovakia


Idea pitch

Imagine you are attending a democratic school, inclusive and open to all. You are responding to the current crisis with skill, participating in society instead of memorising tables. This is exactly what we want to do in Kosice. We will summarise our experiences in a manual which will contribute to the expansion of democratic education in Slovakia, easing the way for others by providing information about constitutional and civil rights, and Slovakia’s legal and economical/financial requirements.

Where will your project idea take place?

Košice-Ťahanovce, Košice, Slovakia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Lot of young people leave Slovakia (especially eastern) to live abroad. We want to motivate them to stay. The conditions and social setting are not good, but our school will teach self-regulation, personal responsibility, empowerment, volunteering, inclusion binded to local community. The current situation presents a huge challenge, but by guiding and educating young people, we can create a generation of courage, strength, skills and motivation to combat it - with backup of us, old(er) pioneers. We want young people to participate in local society.
Low level of professional discussion (analyses, comparisons, data) and networking leaves lonely wolves in their Sizyfa effort to cope with society social prejudices, reluctance to try new ways and passivity inherited by communist rearing.

Who are you doing it for?

We are doing it for all children of preschool and school age (approx. 3-16 years), the teachers in Košice region, for parents (who will be involved, as in ordinary schools they do not have the right to comment on the teaching process or other decisions), and all small initiatives around Slovakia that are interested in this direction of democratic education. We also want to invite the Public Administration (the local administration and government), as they are the ones directly responsible for forming and implementing education methods in public schools in our region and we want to be an example for them. We do this for future generations, who need empowered self-confident purpose-full leaders as a hope and good example.

How do you plan to get there?

We are working with Czech democratic schools that will be providing us with the cultural and experiential know-how needed for such a project as ours. We have legislative experience ourselves and plan to communicate with the Local Administration personally. We will be communicating with the public and teachers/parents though already existing organisations. We already own property with a garden and buildings suitable. We will be organising conferences and seminars for teachers, parents, volunteers, children, activists on a local scale in order to raise awareness about what we are doing and the type of education our society needs. We will be networking with our partner organisations, Lipana n.o., Vráťme deti prírode o.z. (Let’s Return Children to Nature c.s.o.), Stará Hôra o.z. and INESS o.z.

What are the expected results?

A year from now, we offer a franchising packet – a manual handbook with detailed instructions on how to establish a community garden, work with the local community, gain peoples’ trust, and eventually set up a free democratic education school within the state’s legal and economic/financial requirements. We will pass this packet to Stará Hôra o.z. and Vráťme Deti Prírode o.z., who shall try to set up schools in their regions. When approached by interested parties, we offer our packet and provide support/mentoring. Another results are: seminars, Local Administration’s acceptance of alternative/new ideas, a rise in awareness and understanding, people more accepting the idea that children are partners in their own education, dozens of children with a deeply embedded experience with democracy.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Children experience democracy „on-air“: running self-governance, constant mutual interaction, involvement in decisions shape school into a community rather than a hierarchical institution. Bystanders involved in open, creative, inclusive beneficial activities results in an „island of positive deviation“ – pioneering Czech partners‘ ideas (2 democratic schools) like know-how and good-practice examples we lack in Slovakia. Thanks to data, analysis and networking (Lipana & INESS) we create, test and spread a „franchising packet“ with legal, economic & human-resources requirements. Our expertise will empower small communities to found a free democratic school in Slovakia to teach children to deal with differences & difficulties, to stand on their rights and participate actively in society.

Why is this idea important to you?

Nowadays, schools rely on external motivation (rewards, punishments, comparison) because learning lacks sufficient meaning and stifles creativity. This creates an attitude towards life risky for society later on. Furthermore: limited cultivation of critical independent thinking and expression. In the current situation, only 6% of children are happy in schools. They do not learn critical thinking or learn by doing which causes them to be dependent on the opinion of others. Such a person has no self-confidence and is easier to manipulate. Many young people have no idea who they are - dependance on others shows direction and purpose in life. Slovakia needs smart responsible people exercising their rights, seeing success measured by accomplishments and self-satisfaction, not Facebook likes.

€ 57000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

35000 personell costs (2 full time workers for 14 months – project managers, emplyees/self-employment; 2*14*1250eur=35000eur, 1250eur per month is a low-to-average labour cost of a teacher in Slovakia)
2000 education & economy background data analysis
4000 travel and accomodation expenses
8000 online marketing & public relations
6000 local meetings, seminars, conferences, speakers
2000 small office expenses (not the lease/rent, we have our own space)

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Any advice that may help us achieve the goals of The Free Democratic School in Košice more efficiently and with a greater impact. We can also help other countries to spread free democratic schools in education system (especially those with Hungarian & communist law inheritance in education).



Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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