In October, Street Law Executive Director Lee Arbetman and Global Program Manager Ben Perdue, along with Tufts University’s Dr. Peter Levine (who
is also a Street Law board member), traveled to Ukraine to kick off a
civic education initiative coordinated by Pact International under a
grant from USAID.
The team is helping to take advantage of fresh
momentum around civic education in the country. The 2014 “Revolution of
Dignity,” which resulted in the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych,
sparked a new focus on building citizen involvement in the democratic
process in Ukraine. This new democratic energy has reverberated
throughout Ukrainian institutions and organizations, and the public
education system is no exception.
While the country’s focus on
civic education is relatively recent, Street Law’s involvement in
Ukraine began long before the Revolution of Dignity. Back in 1998, two
Street Law staff members—Elizabeth “Bebs” Chorak and Gabriela
Eaglesome—traveled to the country and introduced the Ministry of
Education and Science (MOES) to the value of civic education and to
democratic pedagogy. That work planted the seeds of civic education. In
fact, Raisa Evtushenko, lead specialist on civic education for the MOES,
considers Bebs and Gabi the parents of civic education in Ukraine.
the current project, Street Law is helping the MOES develop a new civic
education curriculum. The MOES and a consortium of five Ukrainian
NGOs—a.k.a. the Civic Education Cohort—are collaborating to develop
civics curricula and a structure for implementing them at the elementary
school, middle school, high school, and college levels. The NGOs, which
hail from all over the country, are:
- The Institute for Leadership, Innovations and Development
- The Integration and Development Center
- Nova Doba
- Step by Step Foundation
- The Ukrainian Association of Teachers of Civic Education and Socio-Political Disciplines
NGO is pursuing the cornerstone project: a compulsory civic education
course for 10th grade students that will incorporate civic competencies
relevant to Ukrainian society. Two others are working on elementary
curricula, inserting civic education themes into existing classes at the
first and second grade levels. The fourth NGO is designing a middle
school program, and the fifth is developing training for future teachers
at pedagogical institutes.
Street Law’s contributions are multi-faceted and include
- leading workshops on best practices and international trends in civic education;
Street Law’s distinctive student-centered, interactive educational
techniques and sharing content through lesson demonstrations;
with the development of a competency map and curricular framework that
will unify efforts across grade levels, from primary school to teacher
- helping design pilot programs; and
- developing assessment tools for the pilot programs.
programs are slated to begin in February, at which time Street Law
staff will return to Ukraine to present the progress of the project to
the MOES, lead workshops on teacher training, and consult with the NGOs
on the design and implementation of classroom assessment tools. In July
2018, Street Law staff will again return to Ukraine and will conclude
their role in the project by analyzing collected assessment data and
using it to help the NGOs revise curricula and think through what
changes may be needed in training programs for teachers.
challenge identified thus far is stylistic is nature. Ukraine
traditionally uses a very didactic style of education, where the teacher
is an authoritarian figure and lecture is the main format for
instruction. Street Law’s approach is democratic, student-centered, and
highly participatory. Executive Director Lee Arbetman is fond of saying,
“You can’t lecture people into democracy.” Bringing about such a major
shift in thinking will be a challenge that requires support for teachers
over a period of time.
Despite this cultural difference, the
project is off to a strong start and is bringing together individuals
and organizations that have not worked together before, in pursuit of
making their country better.
For more images from Street Law's trip, visit this album.