Do children have civil rights, and if they do, what are they? Or maybe ‘children should be seen and not heard’? When do we become citizens? Our observations show that such terms and ‘citizenship’ and ‘democracy’ tend to be associated with people of full legal age. It happens far too often that children are not treated seriously, and their civic education in Poland is insufficient and needs to be supported.
Together with the largest Wrocław childminding facilities ( “Niezapominajka” Kindergarten No 56 and Wrocławskie Centrum Opieki i Wychowania) as well as the Bjerkaker LearningLab Norwegian non-profit organisation we proved that we are citizens from our early age. We showed to kindergarten children that they could have impact on the surrounding reality. We initiated the establishment of the Children’s Council, and we organised a vote for it, attended by ca. 150 kindergarten kids. Children participating in the project, supported by their teachers, prepared an Independence Day performance, wrote letters to members of the Polish and European Parliament and took part in study tours to Warsaw (Senate, the Embassy of France, Presidential Palace) and Wrocław (City Hall, TV Echo, military unit). Together with Bjerkaker LearningLab, we organised for 30 Wroclaw teachers workshops devoted to teaching little children the rules of democracy and civic rights. We also published a pamphlet on this topic, meant for parents. Wrocław institutions invited to the project, arranged space for our activities and recruited young participants, while Bjerkaker LearningLab provided us with factual knowledge, coming from its vast experience in conducting social projects in the field of education.
According to teachers’ accounts, children were highly engaged both during the campaign, and during the voting. They treated it very seriously and particular groups engaged in a discussion about candidates, the vote, or democracy. Based on evaluation survey results, we know that workshops improved teachers’ competencies related to teaching democracy and civic attitudes.