International Conference of Democratic Schools IDEC / EUDEC was held in Vinnytsia. In total, more than 400 participants from 24 countries came to the event. Here, experts in democratic education shared their experiences, gave lectures, in parallel with the section "City of Masters" with different workshops.
The IDEC and EUDEC International Conference of Democratic Schools is a large-scale event that has been held annually in different countries since 1993. This year it was hosted by Vinnytsia and organized by the private school AIST, Vinnytsia City Council supported the event. The open space conference was held on the territory of the children's camp in the village of Selyshche, Tyvriv district, Vinnytsia region.
"I was very impressed with the number of countries represented at this conference. It is wonderful that Vinnytsia is part of such an international process. On behalf of Mayor Serhii Morhunov, thank you for what you do. In fact, democratic education is when people respect each other. And all children deserve to be treated as personalities," said Deputy Mayor Vladyslav Skalskyi.
According to Director of the Department of Education of Vinnytsia City Council Oksana Yatsenko, there were many Vinnytsia teachers at the conference, and they would be sure to apply the knowledge they have received since September 1, when children go to school. "The democratization of society is impossible without the democratization of education, because education must be at the forefront of all the changes that are happening. People who teach children should be reformers, facilitators. The role of the teacher has changed, a new generation has come and completely new approaches and new methods are needed. By the way, students of the New Ukrainian School have been sitting at the desks since September 1, 2018, and it is very nice that the principles of non-formal education, communication, emphasis on the child's versatile development are already used here," Oksana Yatsenko said.
Managing Director of AIST School Ihor Kazmiruk told how the international conference was held. "For several days, various issues related to democratic education were discussed in a friendly atmosphere. There were representatives from many schools around the globe. Almost all continents are represented: America, Asia, Europe, Africa. It is important to enable every child to make the most of what is inherent in nature. Parents can plan for their child to be a mathematician, sculptor, musician, engineer, and then it turns out that the child was not born like that at all. And parents try to bring their project to life, and it does more harm than good. Our task is to find in each child their own highlight, to give an opportunity to develop all its talents. Democratic education aims to ensure that children develop freely, learn to take responsibility."
Representatives of the USA, Germany, Finland, Brazil, Israel, France, Greece, Spain, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, India, Japan, South Korea, Nepal, Australia, etc. came to the conference. Internationally acclaimed democratic education speakers were invited, including Jerry Mintz of the United States, who is the director of the New York Alternative Education Resource Center. "We are helping to open new alternative schools and develop existing ones. The principles of democratic schools are based on the fact that children from nature want to learn, they are so-called natural students, and relations between students and teachers must be based on trust," Jerry Mintz said.
The conference was not only about learning about democratic education, but also taking part in workshops, as the City of Masters also operated here. Here you could learn the basics of straw weaving, pottery, woodcarving, embroidery, Easter eggs painting, soap making and more.
IDEC is not an organization or association. This is a free, self-organized community that can be attended by anyone who participates in the conference and supports the philosophy of the movement. All important decisions are made only during the conference through democratic direct voting procedures.
As the conference travels around the globe, several more local continental conferences have been created over time. EUDEC (European Democratic Education Community) was established in 2006 and holds a similar own conference annually. EUDEC is more structured than IDEC. It is an organization that collects annual contributions, has a Consular Council, and also holds annual international conferences, but in Europe.
AIST School (Alternative Initiative Family Creativity) was founded in 1990 as the first alternative family-type school in Ukraine and since its creation it has been working on projects: "Culture of peace (non-violence) through world culture", "Democratization of society through democratization schools", and it is these areas of work that have enabled the school staff to join many international projects, including IDEC, EUDEC.