Almost 4000 students participate and design proposals for projects that benefit the larger community, and get put into practice with the help of teachers and local NGOs.
STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND PARTICIPATION
My School, My vote! is a school participatory budgeting project that lets students allocate money to a project of their choice. The process was designed in a way that allowed students to complement their theoretical knowledge with practical skills of citizenship, such as campaigning and public speaking. It was run in two schools in Zambia, bringing democracy and the right to participate to life by showing students how their efforts and decision-making have a direct impact and outcome on communal life.
PROPOSALS BENEFIT THE LARGER COMMUNITY
Almost 4000 students participated and designed proposals for projects that benefit the larger community and tackle the issues of the many. Each class, of at least 80 students, had to come up with the three best ideas to be taken to the next round of the process. The students had to narrow them down, campaign, and later on vote for their preferred initiative and allocate money towards it. At the end, a list of 17 projects for both schools was put together. However, only one project could win! The winning project aimed at renewing the school's equipment to increase the overall quality of education.
LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS STRENGTHEN THE APPROACH
The problems identified and explored by the students in their proposals included garbage collection, cleanliness, and the insufficiency or poor state of study equipment. Not only did the initiative produce meaningful projects, it made the students engage on a high level and feel empowered. They witnessed the impact they can have. The project revealed that local partnerships (such as with NGOs) are very helpful in understanding the relevant context so that they can accordingly adjust their methodology. Alongside being treated as equals, students got a good first experience of democracy, which convinced teachers of the educational benefits of the project, and they too got involved.
Students actually get excited and by proxy, they get involved better in the school life of their community. They get motivated because they learn more about what is happening and what other needs are.