Maxim Nikiforov, director of Public Foundation for Childhood Support, Street Law's partner in Kyrgyzstan
December 7, 2011
In spring 2011, Street Law, Inc., with the help of a grant from the ACE Insurance Company, partnered with the Public Foundation for Childhood Support (an NGO in Bishkek) to improve the methods and resources for teaching about the rule of law in Kyrgyzstan. The country—recently wracked with ethnic conflict—was an ideal target for lessons that encourage young people to take part in open communication about the rule of law and political issues.
Maxim Nikiforov, director of Children in Danger, worked with Street Law’s Deputy Director Bebs Chorak to organize and implement training workshops for 77 teachers in Bishkek and Osh. Participating teachers chose seven topics for classroom deliberation, including juvenile justice, voting, and freedom of expression. Teachers were then trained to facilitate deliberations: open discussions that encourage students to think critically, develop their own opinions, and, most importantly, find common ground with supporters of the other side of the argument (learn more about the steps of a deliberation).
“It is necessary that every citizen have an opportunity to participate in deliberations, as it improves his/her civic activity and freethinking. It is necessary to deliberate problems in a society openly.”
- participant from Osh, Kyrgyzstan
This fall, the newly trained teachers will use the principles of democracy and the deliberation technique in their classrooms to further the understanding of the rule of law—affecting over 1,000 students and developing skills that equip them to be more tolerant, law abiding, informed members of their communities.
One participant from Osh said that “using this method in schools will make it possible to develop students’ tolerance.” Another went so far to say that if the workshops were presented earlier, the ethnic conflict might have been avoided as people would have known how to demonstrate under the law.
(Reproduced with permission)