House of Nature
Europuls-the Center of European Expertise
Forum Apulum will train the beneficiaries in civic education, recent history, and community project building. Europuls will train the beneficiaries in subjects related to European citizenship.
Ana, 14, lives in rural Transylvania. She just got her ID but has no idea of its use. She often hears adults regretting Ceausescu’s era and criticizing Romania’s EU membership. She checks every indicator for a future disengaged and distrustful citizen. This is about to change: 100 youth like Ana will become aware of their unique citizenry power in their village, country and continent. Trainers will work with them in civic literacy, children’s human rights, recent history, and EU citizenship.
5 villages comprising the commune of Laslea, Sibiu county, Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania is characterized by a paradox: a renowned land with immense potential, inhabited by distrustful and disengaged citizens, whose civic fiber was diluted by decades of communism, who are not educated to be proactive in solving problems and waiting for change to come from others. Transylvanian villages need civic leaders in order to evolve, but youth, the generation most likely to make a change, lacks access to qualitative and civic education. Kids in rural Transylvania mainly come from vulnerable families, where the priority is survival, not necessarily education. Injustice, inequality, lack of trust between citizens and local authorities are invisible teachers for these kids. The challenge is to transform underachieving youth into the next changemakers in their community.
This project would be the first ever to introduce a planned, organized program related to citizenship in the community. The program is built on observed needs of youth in the village and tackles civic literacy, children’s rights, community action. Currently, local democracy practices and active participation are lacking in Laslea: citizenship is reduced to participating in elections and even some members of the local Council consider themselves powerless, because they represent the political minority. We can restore civic engagement in the community, including among adults, by helping the kids. If youth is civically educated and active in the community, they will serve as models for their parents and teachers. Adults are more likely to be influenced by their own kids than by outsiders.
We will be working with 100 youth aged 10-18 from Laslea. We believe that this category is the most receptive to new subjects, and is most likely to accept change. We expect to train 3-5 youth informal leaders out of the 100 beneficiaries, standing out from their peers, who will be able, under trainers’ counselling, to conduct small civic actions in their village. They will engage their peers, and together will inspire adults around them to join forces. Adults will also be shown change is possible by their own kids. To better grasp the psychological and educational level of the beneficiaries and to adapt the trainings to this audience, we will arrange for the trainers delivering the workshops to have several sessions with experts working with children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We envision 4 learning modules, consisting of 3 workshops each, on: 1. literacy (getting a common vocabulary to be used during the entire project), 2. civic literacy and children’s rights, 3. recent history, and 4. the EU and youth, delivered by our 2 partner organizations specialized in supporting youth to be civically aware and active, and promoting EU topics on the Romanian public agenda. There will be 2 week breaks between each workshop, which will be used to work with the informal young leaders to slowly build community projects based on needs identified during the workshops, while finding ways to get adults (mainly teachers and parents) involved and contributing. Kids will be split into groups according to age category. Games and situational-oriented tools will be used.
We expect 75% of the beneficiaries will become aware of their place and voice in their community. We aim for 50% of the beneficiaries to start surpassing the fear of expressing themselves and ask questions or request help. We aim that 30% will want to participate in community activities and 10% will also have their own initiatives about community development. In addition, the 3-5 informal leaders will continue to be civic enablers after the end of the program. A spill-over effect will also occur: adults will be proud of their kids' civic deeds. Some will get involved in the projects, drawn in by youth's success. Last but not least, trainers from our 2 partners will be able to implement good practices in other rural communities with similar profiles, after their experience in Laslea.
Current nationalist and populist trends in Europe feed off people’s fears. Fearful and easily influenced audiences are comprised of people who aren’t aware of their power as citizens. Civically educated citizens will know and demand their rights, will be responsible about their obligations, and will empower other citizens. Hence, they will be less prone to influence from populist rhetoric, and will choose to contribute to the European project instead. Civic education is the only true chance to strengthening democracy in Europe and it has to happen starting from the very first cells of Europe: individuals and their local communities. We contribute to this process by saving youth from becoming the future targets of populism and transforming them into resources for local democracy.
Our professional and educational background (law, political science, 10+years in the diplomatic service, 5+ years in the formal educational system) make us highly aware that civic education is the leitmotiv of our mission to change rural Transylvania bottom-up through its younger generation. We will not be able to reach this mission without educating youth on citizenship, because civic education is not only about knowing your rights and obligations, but being mentally powerful enough to serve your community. Civic education is for us the ultimate tool of critical thinking and the source of all good in community development and democracy strengthening.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Staff (a local recent graduate will be selected for a project management contract): 10.000 eur
Trainers: 10.000 eur
Consultancy on working with vulnerable groups: 3.000 eur
Office expenses: 2.000 eur
Accountancy: 2.000 eur
Travel and accommodation: 2.000 eur
Training materials: 2.000 eur
Communications and PR: 2.500 eur
Budgets for community projects initiated by youth: 1.500 eur
We need to cooperate with other Europeans serving underachieving, underprivileged youth from rural areas. We have already identified participants to this challenge we would like to work with and we will contact them soon. Thank you, dear Civic Europe team, for creating this open idea space for us!