Alicja Derkowska

Ashoka Fellow
Nowy Sacz, Poland
Fellow Since 2000
Małopolskie Towarzystwo Oświatowe


This profile was prepared when Alicja Derkowska was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Several years ago, Alicja designed and implemented an innovative school model in which students are trained in democratic procedures, both theoretically and in practice. Today, she has begun building an international network of schools to which her idea is being introduced. Teachers and students are participating in educative exchange programs in East Central Europe, the Baltics, the former Soviet Union, and the Balkans. Alicja believes that one can teach democracy only by participating in democracy, and this commitment lies at the heart of her reforms. She was first in the region to introduce the combination of civics and volunteering programs to schools. Through her programs, students volunteer in hospitals, homes for the elderly, and in recycling projects. They also learn democracy by participating in the school's democratic decision-making processes, open curricula, and innovative pedagogical techniques.
Her plan to popularize her ideas rests on two strategies: first, she runs a teacher training program through which teachers from all over the region are trained to organize lessons and school life around principles, values, and activities that promote civic awareness and democratic behavior. Second, she has organized a multi-national exchange program for students and teachers that allows both to gain exposure to other cultural and linguistic environments and build inter-cultural friendships and ties.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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