IFES Civic Education Project, Democracy in Kazakhstan, 2002-2003
A new dawn is emerging from the shadows of the old soviet system of the last century. IFES is bringing a new vitality to the classroom as a result of new, democratic, ideas taught through a new innovative teaching approach that encourages class discussions and interaction between students and between students and teachers.
The IFES Civic Education Course is affording high school students to learn how a democratic civil society works. This includes the role and responsibility of individual citizens in such a society and how government at all levels is to be responsive to its citizens.
In addition to the civics course, schools offering the course sponsor Civics Tournaments that are held in the schools with the winners advancing to oblast level competitions and ultimately to the republic level. These competitions allow students to put to work what they learned while taking the civics course while at the same time employing their communication skills and challenging their ability to think on their feet and respond spontaneously to complex questions.
IFES is also encouraging the establishment of Student Action Committees known as SACs. These are school based organizations that enable the students to provide useful service to their schools or communities and that the students themselves have decided upon. They are examples of volunteer civic action groups.
Student Local Government Days is a newly introduced concept to Kazakhstan. In this program IFES works with local government officials to open their doors for one day to students who will spend a day in officials' offices and accompanying them as they perform their official duties.
During the summer IFES conducts Democracy Summer Camps at two locations for 8 days each. These sessions introduce or reinforce the concept of civil society and its responsibilities and provide training for organizing student action committees in the schools.