Konotop City Council members and gymnasium students decided on the future of “Dignity Land” together. According to the rules of an educational game, students and local officials from Konotop in Ukraine became members of a parliament of an imaginary country. Bearing in mind the country’s limited resources, they were asked to decide on the social policies concerning social rights within a development plan for the next five years.
The event was covered by a local television station and the following is based on a transcript of the story.
“We received this Council of Europe educational game within the “Schools for Democracy” Programme. Our gymnasium is one of the 42 schools participating in the Programme’s II cycle. The game prompts participants to think critically and to analyze various factors. Today we have invited high school students and representatives of different factions to take part in this game together. We were all divided into teams. There was no winners or losers, everyone participated in decision-making by expressing their opinion and voting”, Olena Bahryantseva, secretary of Konotop city council, said.
The game started by dividing the participants into 4 teams. Each team received a report on the imagined country’s social sector together with cards for possible reforms. All groups had to decide on a common vision and elaborate their strategy. As a result, representatives from each team reported on their strategy for reforms, whereas other members of the parliament could raise questions and take part in the discussion.
“Which topic raised most of discussions in your group?”
“The subject of employment raised most lively discussions in our group. We had different opinions on whether we should prioritize and provide employment for people with higher education rather than those with secondary education. Nevertheless, we managed to reach a consensus”, Andriy, a gymnasium student, said.
Nataliya, another gymnasium student, said:
“The most vivid discussion in our group focused on the right to education. One of the committees was in favor of higher education as opposed to the right to secondary education.
“Were the decisions made unanimously in your team or not?”
“Yes, almost all decisions were made unanimously».
After having decided on policy strategies, discussing and listening to the reports, participants had a chance to share their impressions:
«In my opinion, today’s event has proved that young generation representatives can do a lot better than some of the officials. Therefore, I am convinced that there will be a bright future in front of us”, said Yuriy Marchenko, deputy of the Konotop city council.
“How was it for you to work together with local deputies, did you feel as equal?”