School Plus Network, www.schoolplusnet.org

The School Plus Network came into being in 2001 in the Balkans as the result of the “Grassroots Democracy” program.  It is a network of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) registered in existing schools in South and Central Eastern Europe and in South Caucasus which support a democratic, open, civil, creative, and entrepreneurial society.

MTO works with the network to strengthen and promote the goals of civic education in local communities.  In workshops for parents, teachers and school administrators, MTO introduces the “why’s” and “how’s” of creating PTAs as well as the basics of fundraising.  Participants return to their schools with a mission statement, draft of a statute and a first project proposal.  Once they have formally registered they are eligible for a first mini-grant and can join our network of similarly civic-minded schools. 

Our goal is to strengthen the School Plus Network by infusing it with innovative programs that enable colleagues from all the countries involved to work together on similar initiatives and at the same time enrich the schools so that they really represent more than the traditional school.  “Plus” should mean “Plus”.  To this end we have begun to implement such projects as “Village”, “Everyday Law” and “Public Achievement” throughout the network. 

We feel that we have had a positive influence in all of these places and that local PTAs are slowly taking leadership positions and sharing their expertise and experiences with others in their region and even beyond.  In 2005 “School Plus Network” Program was awarded in a country-wide competition PRO PUBLICO BONO for it’s achievements in “citizen’s diplomacy”. We will continue to consolidate and strengthen the existing network while at the same time expanding it to new areas.  We will build upon the existing human resources of our partners so that together we will create an open, democratic society in the Balkans and South Caucasus.

Parent Teacher Associations in Action in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. 

Study Visit in Poland, 2010 and Final Conference in Azerbaijan, 2011

The goal of this project was to improve individual public schools by involving parents and teachers in the process and empowering them to create (or activate existing) parent-teacher associations (PTAs) at these schools.  The project consists of:

The First International School Plus FAIR, 2004

First International School Plus FAIR was scheduled to be held in Vrsac in the second half of August 2003, but had to be postponed due to political tensions in Serbia and Kosova that would have prevented the Albanians and Kosovars (one third of the total participants) from attending.  We made the painful, but in retrospect, wise decision to reschedule it in Timisoara in March 2004.

School Plus Goes to Azerbaijan, 2005

Two 5-day seminars for two groups of parents, teachers and school directors from Baku region (25 persons) and Ganja region (19 persons) were held in February 2005.  All of the participants were highly motivated, active and ready to pursue the difficult process of registering their future PTAs.

At the end of each workshop, diplomas were awarded by the Polish Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Mr. Marcin Nawrot.  We are most grateful to the entire diplomatic staff at the Polish Embassy in Baku for their hospitality, care and assistance throughout this project.

I School Plus Conference in Budva, Montenegro, 2002

The much-awaited School Plus Conference was held from September 19-22.  Budva was chosen for its beauty, but Montenegro was chosen as a safe and neutral place for participants from all the regions.  There were 40 participants from 24 PTA’s in Albania, Kosova, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, and Serbia.  Unfortunately the Moldovan participants were unable to be present due to visa complications.

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