This profile was prepared when Jacek Strzemieczny was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Jacek Strzemieczny, himself an educator, is taking advantage of recent government decentralization that for the first time in modern Polish history has made local governments responsible for managing their own school systems. Through his "civic education project," he facilitates an open dialog between local officials, school administrators, and their primary clients - the students. Now, for the first time, students and their parents are participating in the formulation of school programs and curricula. Jacek believes that as young people are engaged in the shaping of their own schools, they will begin to learn about the concept of self-directed local government which is relatively new to Poland. Their participation in the democratic process will help to secure Poland's fledgling democracy and contribute to the development of the country's civil society. In addition, teachers are learning new methods. His work is transforming schools, which are becoming newly responsive to the unique needs of their communities.