Friday, July 06, 2007

Citizen-Mauritius Pilot Project Expanded to All State Colleges

The Citizen-Mauritius project initiated by Amode Taher, director of education zone 4, last year, will as from this year be expanded to all state colleges

Involving students in real life
L'Express (Port Louis)
3 July 2007

By Patrick Hilbert
Port Louis

Promoting civic values and democracy through a pedagogic project that aims at making Form IV pupils feel more concerned about their immediate environment and get more involved in society, through debate, reflection and analysis of a social problem closely related to them.

The Citizen-Mauritius project initiated by Amode Taher, director of education zone 4, last year, will as from this year be extended to all state colleges.

"Every group must present a problem faced by the region where the school is situated. The students explain the public policy, saying if it works and, if not, why not. They're also asked to come up with alternative solutions", states Amode Taher. More then a simple presentation, students have to interview officials, analyze closely the problem they choose to tackle, do some research and have regular brain storming sessions. They also have to propose an action plan.

The education zone director came up with his project for the first time in 2005. "I went to America two years ago to examine the state of civic education over there. That's where I heard for the first time about this project, which had a positive impact on the school population. No fewer than 3 million kids coming from 50 states participated that year. I thought it would be nice to import the concept to Mauritius."

Last year, having obtained the green light from minister Dharam Gokhool, he launched a pilot project in his zone (Vacoas-Phoenix, Quatre-Bornes and the West). It was a real success. Trainers from the Center for Civic Education came to Mauritius to empower 25 teachers for the project. In 2006, the project presented by the girls of Vacoas State Secondary School won the first prize. They dealt with the problem of traffic jams around their school premises on market days.

This year, the 20 State colleges of each educational zone are already working on their respective projects to be presented on 16th July. Two days later, the best performers from each zone will go through to the finals. "Through Citizen-Mauritius, the participants develop a sense of belonging. The aim is to make them work in a democratic environment and develop their citizenship", says Amode Taher.

But it's not just that. It's also a means of helping students get to know their inner selves better and develop their critical thinking. That's essentially why Form IV students are targeted. Besides the fact that they don't have to participate in major exams, they are in the right age frame for this type of project