EECMD Democracy Schools in Odesa and Lviv were launched on October 25 and October 27, 2017. These events finalized months of preparatory work of the entire NIMD/EECMD family to make two cities as leaders in Ukraine in the sphere of democracy and anti-corruption oriented education. 25 Democracy School participants were selected in each city to represent a wide spectrum of professional activity: from the social science students, up to the members of the local councils. There are representatives of the civil society, including NGO leaders, and political party members, staffers of the local councilors, consultants, civil servants and journalists.
The first introductory lectures were presented by Levan Tsutskiridze – the Executive Director of the EECMD. Mr. Tsutskiridze addressed auditoriums with a lecture discussing as to why, from the moral, ethical, political and pragmatic points of views, is democracy the best answer to the key questions of how to resolve and accommodate some of the fundamental dilemmas and issues facing of the human society. He also charted the evolution of liberal democratic systems from the very onset of the Athenian city states up to the modern era.
Alongside with participants there were DS trainers presented at the inaugural ceremony to start working with DS participants. Twice a week, in the length of 5 months, more than 20 topics dealing with democratic management, political development, party building, civil society activity, and anti-corruption will be covered by local and Ukrainian experts who have rich theoretical background and practical experience in democracy promotion both in academia, governmental and parliamentary bodies.
Democracy Schools in Lviv and Odesa already became the platforms for debates, critical thinking, and analytical rethinking of the political atmosphere which constituted transitional period for Ukraine from the totalitarian past to the young European democracy. Social nets and other relevant methods of information exchange are already being used by the DS staff and participants for the professional development, socializing, and DS promotion in the regions.
No doubt, the opening of the Democracy Schools appeared to be not just an ordinary case for Ukraine, but another modest, though important step in the process of democratization in Ukraine. As one of the DS participants from Odessa remarked in his Facebook post: “it is never late to learn and re-learn. I am pleased with the opening of the School, which appeared to be the moment of the New stage of my life… Thankfully to the organizers and EECMD I am starting to understand what is the European style of presenting lectures. This is i-de-a-li-stic”.
Another participant from Lviv, remarked: “Corruption, lack of professionalism and insufficient commitment on the part of its citizens have been Ukraine’s haunting problems for decades. Instead, I want to work creatively to contribute to its success. And I know that my participation in the newly launched School of Democracy will help me in this!”