Publication | Report/Paper

The Civic Education Project in Romania, Phase One, July 1992 - April 30, 1993


This part of the Civic Education Project in Romania, here referred to as the Project, commenced with the hosting of a five-day seminar in Brasov on November 7 - 11, entitled, "Building a Democratic Society: Some Basic Concepts and Practical Tools, A Seminar for Civic Leaders." The seminar hosted participants from the western region of Romania. In March 1993, eastern region participants convened in Iasi on March 20 - 24, 1993, for another five-day seminar with the same title.

The Brasov Seminar for western region participants followed an earlier IFES sponsored major seminar held in Bucharest on August 31 through September 4, 1992. This seminar focused on personal leadership skills such as speaking, running meetings, and group decision-making to identify potential participants for future IFES-led seminars. See IFES Report, entitled: "IFES Civic Education Workshop: Democratic Leadership Skills."  

The Brasov and Iasi seminars were more comprehensive in addressing issues affecting civil society in Romania. They were designed to equip a select group of civic leaders with the training and materials necessary to organize and at least partially conduct civic education programs themselves. They would accomplish this through discussion of critical issues affecting Romania and its prospects for establishing democratic society. The positive effects of these discussions were supported by the dissemination of materials that participants would use to further explore the topics in civic education seminars held in their cities of residence.

The participants at Brasov and Iasi were invited once the Project staff identified civic leaders/educators from a wide variety of backgrounds, including women and members of minority groups, without regard to political affiliation. There was an attempt to include officials and individuals active in civic affairs on a local, rather than only a national, level.

The seminar addressed many of the basic concepts of the democratic society, including:

•         Electoral systems

•         Political parties

•         Rule of law issues

•         Romanian constitutional law

•         Economy in democratic societies

•         Private property

•         Privatization of government assets

•         Mass media communications

•         Political advocacy

•         Philanthropy

•         Non-governmental organizations

•         Volunteerism

These concepts were presented by experts from Romania, the United States, and Great Britain. During most sessions, the foreign experts co-presented the chosen topic alongside a Romanian governmental or non-governmental expert in that field. (See the agendas in the appendix of this report.) This worked very well throughout the seminars: thus, participants received not just a presentation of comparative concepts but also a current state-of-affairs briefing from in-residence Romanian speakers.

Following each presentation, designated experts then led discussions of concepts in open question-and-answer periods.  Generally discussions were lively and focused. During the discussions that took place over the course of five days, a sense of cooperation and trust was evident among the participants and the foreign experts. A bibliography of materials was provided for each participant relevant to each topic. Videos were shown each evening, and written books and materials, translated into Romanian, were also distributed. (See attached list of materials.) Press conferences held at the conclusion of the seminars enabled participants to give their views to members of the newspaper and broadcast media. . In addition, interviews with the media were held by the trainers.

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