Global Connections VIII

February 2004

Bulgaria & Romania

One of the themes of GC VIII was onĀ Partnerships, the potential relationship among and between schools, communities, teachers, students, parents, and various shareholders in the educational process. One of the partnerships which was celebrated publicly was that between the Tiger Kloof Educational Institution in South Africa and Trinity School in New York City. Sonya Posmentier of Trinity wrote recently about this relationship:

One of the aims of the Tiger Kloof-Trinity partnership, a relationship that brings together teachers from very different schools that are oceans apart, is to promote Ubuntu, the notion that a person becomes a person through other persons. This principle most clearly defines the promises of the partnership.

In Bulgaria and Romania, this principle of becoming a person through interaction with other people was carried out fully. Eighty-two (82) school leaders from 24 countries met for the first time in two capitals where they deliberated not only on Education for Democracy, but also the kinds of Partnerships that could (and did) evolve from such meetings.

As the Preamble of the Declaration, which was drafted at the conclusion of the annual Seminar states:

“We recognized that our schools are often natural ‘laboratories’ for democracy” and “We agreed that by providing our students with living experience of the principles of democratic discourse, we will be ensuring that they can continue as adults beyond school to exercise their political democratic rights and responsibilities.”

The presence of 9 countries from East and Central Europe gave a superb balance to those from China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, France, and Italy. Even Mongolia was represented! Forty-three (43) of those present had attended at least one previous Seminar, while 39 delegates were first-time participants. Partnerships were viewed from national, regional, and global perspectives; while perceptions on how to implement Education for Democracy varied between centralist education systems and those that were considerably more independent. As school leaders, however, all delegates agreed that Educating for Democracy is “teaching respect for all peoples” and that it is a “language” which is acquired “through the building and experiencing of a democratic community.”

As the Declaration notes, it was agreed that partnerships among our schools contribute significantly to the democratic process worldwide and that the very diversity of the Global Connections’ educational community encourages not only communication and collaboration, but also a spirit of Ubuntu, the realization that we can become more compassionate, understanding, giving, and therefore, richer people through our association with other persons.