Country, Date of election
People in Lithuania are reluctant to participate in civic life. Such passivity developed during Soviet times when people outside of the Communist party did not have opportunities to participate, since all aspects of life were controlled by Soviet ideology. After Lithuania declared independence in 1990, values of democracy started to be introduced. Progress has been slow, however, because many Lithuanians were not aware of the mechanisms of participation. Democracy cannot exist without citizens’ participation in public life.
When Lithuania gained its independence, civic education became part of the national curriculum. According to this curriculum, civic education should be treated as an independent subject as well as a topic to be integrated into other subjects and community life.
Girvydas is the director of the Centre for Civic Initiatives and he is related to the education more than 25 years. Together with the Centre for Civic Initiatives there was made more than 200 projects. With his initiative, there was created Student Parliament in the Lithuania, in the 2000 year. But now there is a situation that the Student Parliament is not alive anymore. Girvydas thinks that mechanism of the Student Parliament does not work nowadays anymore. But he sees big advantages and impact that there was the Student Parliament. The Student Parliament grew more than 700 aware citizens. Some of these citizens now are participating in the new project, “Kurk Lietuvai” (Create for Lithuania). Create for Lithuania is one-year work placement programme for young professionals launched by Invest Lithuania in partnership with the Lithuanian Government, aimed at Lithuanian youth who have completed their studies at universities outside of Lithuania.
Girvydas believes that civic education offers an opportunity to dramatically affect the world beyond school walls. By working through public schools, he connects with a diverse student body and gains access to an institution that is open to new ideas. He engages the student body in the student election process, revitalizes classroom learning through a dynamic curriculum, and offers leadership training and support for newly elected students. Through his national effort called Action Days, students identify and solve pressing problems in their local communities. With Girvydas’s leadership, students are advocating for important initiatives. He has designed a set of experiential learning opportunities that also engage teachers, parents, local government authorities, and journalists. As a result, the community members witness the power of the democratic process firsthand and see concrete results from initiatives of their own design.
Girvydas has created experiential learning opportunities to make civic education effective at four levels: Student Council, Student Parliament, local Action Days, and national Action Days. Through these experiences, Girvydas engages community members, the media, and future trainers to build a network for the continuing spread of his idea.
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