Education and government officials in Sacramento hosted education leaders from Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of an exchange program promoting the teaching of civics and history. The delegation was in Sacramento from September 14-19 touring school sites, meeting with government officials, and taking part in work sessions.
In May 2006, an 18-member American delegation* representing the Center for Civic Education's national network flew to Bosnia-Herzegovina to help promote the study of civics in the schools of that nation and help develop education and curriculum standards.
During the visit, the delegation visited schools, observed the national Project Citizen showcase where 450 finalists represented the more than 79,000 who participated in the program during the past school year in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Delegates also witnessed the Ministers of Education from throughout the country signing a memorandum of understanding stating that any high school teacher assigned to teach the course "democracy and human rights" must first complete the teacher certification that was developed under the partnership.
"This is part of a worldwide effort to promote democracy through civic education," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools and a member of the American delegation that traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The program, called Civitas@Bosnia-Herzegovina, receives support from the United States Information Agency (USIA) and the U.S. Department of Education. The goal is to assist international educators in creating, adapting, implementing, and institutionalizing effective civic education programs in their own countries. The summer program prepared participants to implement a new instructional program this fall. More than 300 teachers are currently using the Center's curricular materials with nearly 12,000 upper elementary and secondary students throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina.
"They asked us for help with this new existence to them known as democracy," said Carol Hatcher, Associate Director of the Center for Civic Education. "They have civic education well in the center of their radar screen."
"I am glad to have an opportunity to see your civic education materials in use," said teacher Nadzida Sukalo. "We use the same materials and methods. We find them very good and students like them a lot."
The delegation visiting from Bosnia-Herzegovina consisted of six people: the executive director of the Civitas project in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a translator, and four teachers from different levels of education in that country.
The delegation met with California Secretary of Education Alan Bersin, toured the State Capitol and Old Sacramento. The group also observed government classes at T.R. Smedberg Middle School in the Elk Grove Unified School District, Del Campo High School in the San Juan Unified School District, and John F. Kennedy High School in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Bosnian delegates toured Sly Park Conservation & Environmental Education Center, a Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) program located in Pollock Pines.
While in Sacramento, the delegation participated in seminars on standards-based education and the development of civics standards, which were held at SCOE's David P. Meaney Education Center.
In a question-and-answer session at Smedberg Middle School, the visiting educators told students that they were enjoying their tour of the U.S. When asked about schools in her home country, Rahela Dzidic, Civitas BiH Executive Director, responded that classrooms in Bosnia-Herzegovina, "are the same as everywhere. Students are the richness of the classroom."
CIVITAS International is an international civic education exchange program. a cooperative project of a consortium of civic education organizations in the United States and other participating nations. The program is administered by the Center for Civic Education and funded through a grant from the United States Department of Education under the Education for Democracy act approved by the United States Congress. The program is implemented throughout the world in cooperation with the United States Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development. CIVITAS provides for a series of exchanges among leaders in civic education in the United States and emerging and established democracies worldwide.
* Members of the American delegation included: Alan Bersin, California Secretary of Education; David Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools; Stephanie Hartman, Nevada Social Studies consultant; Glee Johnson, Former President-California State Board of Education, and Robert Seale, Nevada State Assemblyman. The delegation was accompanied by Bill Hatcher, Carol Hatcher and Judith Simpson all representing the Center for Civic Education.