Can a person who is not a councillor have an impact on the life of their hometown? How can they secure funds to put ideas that improve the quality of life of a local community into practice? How do they invite local authorities to collaborate? These are just a few of the questions that the participants of the Academy of Participation are seeking answers to.
Guria is considered to be among the poorest administrative regions of Georgia. It is only now that the tourists and investors begin to discover the potential of this Black Sea region. However, apart from tourist attractions and investment opportunities, Guria has one more thing to offer: its enterprising and open-minded residents. Small wonder that it is Guria where we’ve decided to set our first regional edition of the Academy of Participation.
Neither the competition nor a demanding, two-stage recruitment processes deterred the candidates from participating in the programme. Eventually, out 27 applicants, we’ve selected 18 most highly motivated and promising representatives of local communities. Among them were both members of local governments and common citizens. Same as the expectations towards the candidates, the stakes were high: an opportunity to take part in a professional training programme and field practice, while the best of students would get a chance to receive a grant for implementing their own citizens’ projects.
The first, three-month stage of the Academy of Participation comprised thematic seminars dedicated to methods of facilitating communication between citizens and local governments, defining and jointly developing solutions to problems that trouble local communities, as well as securing funds necessary for putting these solutions into practice. The second stage of the project featured field practice consisting of internships at selected Georgian city halls. Their goal was not only to acquaint the participants with legal mechanisms that govern the actions of local authorities, but also with practical aspects of their functioning – all this under a watchful eye of recognized experts, including the alumni of the previous editions of the Academy. However, the participants of the programme have yet to take the most important step: create their very own citizens’ initiatives. The best projects will receive funding from Solidarity Fund PL in Georgia, so the incentive for showing creativity and taking up collaboration with local self-governments is quite strong.
We wish inventiveness and perseverance to all Academy participants, and extend our gratitude to the experts involved in the project – for all their insights, to Gurian self-governments who cooperate with us – for their trust, and to our donors – for their financial support.
|Academy of Participation
Academy of Participation is a programme initiated in 2019 that has already had four editions: three national-level and a regional one. Its primary purpose is to deliver tools enabling Georgian citizens to collaborate with local self-governments on defining problems prevalent in particular regions, developing ideas for solutions and, finally, putting these ideas into practice. In a longer term, the programme aims to build trust between the authorities and the residents, to create a framework for cooperation, and to promote pro-active attitudes and citizenship.
The project is financed with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Government of Georgia and co-financed by the Development Cooperation Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.
The project is managed by Solidarity Fund PL in Georgia (SFPL-GEO) and implemented jointly with Student Youth Council (SYC).