School Democracy Laboratory
civic activity
City (headquarters):
Voivodeship (headquarters):
01-01-2021 - 30-06-2022
Project cost:
58 499,00 EUR
58 499,00 EUR
Types of activities:
educational activities, civic participation
Target groups:
youth, teachers

According to the 2016 report from the Centre for Public Opinion Research, over 50% of students declared they have never participated in their school council elections. Additionally, the majority has very little sense of agency over their school or municipality at large. These are the young people characterized by a low level of civic trust and a conviction that civic participation brings very little results. On the other hand, findings from the Institute for Educational Research show that students who experienced participatory involvement in the decision-making process at their school tend to be more engaged in civic life as adults. That is why we believe involving young people in the democratic processes early is crucially important.
We have responded to the challenge of the low civic engagement among students by designing and implementing mechanisms that allow for an inclusion of the young people in the decision-making process about their school life in five schools across Poland. We have conducted workshops in each of the schools for previously established project teams. We supported the teams in coming up with a diagnosis of the needs in their schools, the development and implementation of the participatory mechanism (for example, using the participatory budget, or the process of collaborative assessment process design). The youth completed their ideas and their projects with our help. Among others, the teams have created a relaxation corner, organized a debate about student rights, implemented a participatory budget, and conducted a future-oriented workshops entitled “School Is Our Place.” On the basis of our collected experiences and conclusions, we have created a publication collecting good practices, recommendations and ideas on how to engage young people in co-deciding about their schools. We have also put on a conference where every team was able to present their projects.
Based on our evaluation surveys we were able to learn that students from the selected schools have increased their awareness about the activities of the student council and that the body represents, in fact, all students and not selected interests of given candidates. We have tested new ways of working with the youth that have enriched both us and the schools involved with new insights and experiences. All these lessons will be implemented during our online course for student councils’ supervisors during the upcoming school year.

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