Czech children take their issues to Parliament


Friday is the big day for the group of youngsters selected to present their issue-oriented projects to the Czech Senate. This is the idea of the Citizen Project, the brainchild of the civic organisation Civitas. A while ago I spoke with the executive director of Civitas in the Czech Republic, Ivana Havlínová, to find out more about the project and the children’s political concerns.

“Project Citizen is an educational programme focused on public issues. Students try to monitor public issues in their communities and try to find solutions to them.”

And what is going on today exactly?

Ivana Havlínová
“We have the 13th National Project Citizen Hearings in the Senate, that means that the ten most successful projects are presented in front of the board of judges and the students listen to each other, ask questions the presenters about each project, and this is one of the highlights of the Citizen Project.”

Are there senators there as well?

“Oh yes. We are under the auspices of the Senate Committee for Education, Human Rights and Petitions, and Senator Vlastimil Balín is leading the session.”

How old are the children?

“They are between the ages of 10 and 17.”

And they are from all over the Czech Republic?

“Yes, they are from all parts of the Czech Republic.”

So what kinds of issues are they most interested in?

“This year they are most interested in issues like safe traffic around their schools, some bullying issues, we also have some issues about how schools can adopt kids from Africa and so on.”

Is there a chance that some of their issues could be taken up by real politicians and turned into legislation?

“Oh yes. A part of the project is that they have to be in touch with the politicians at the appropriate level of government and to discuss the issues with them and try to get their support for their solutions.”