School and family can develop civic attitude

The Republic of Moldova reached the 22nd year of independence. The IPN Agency decided to present the accomplishments and failures in the country’s development in a number of articles. Representatives of the current government, experts, former and current politicians stated their view on the steps taken by Moldova after August 27, 1991.

Article No. 5 of the IPN series “Moldova-22. Steps forward and steps backward”, on the occasion of the Independence Day

Civic attitude can be taken from the street or from books. It is transmitted genetically and can be different from nation to nation. Being used to forced collectivism, the Moldovan people seldom show civic activism when they have the right to chose. Moldova has few opinion leaders because they were deported, persecuted and exterminated over time, while new generations of people with attitude develop with difficulty.

Civic attitude ‘is transmitted genetically”

Antonita Fonari, who is the secretary general of the NGO Council and deputy head of the National Participation Council, said that those who genetically had a developed civic attitude were exterminated by being sent to Siberia and to build channels. “In a society, the opinion leaders are not the majority. It is easy to take leaders from a nation and exterminate them. New leaders appear not quickly. When I say that the civic attitude is transmitted genetically, I evidently exaggerate. I mean that the civic attitude is transmitted in a family that provides education,” she stated.

According to Antonita Fonari, Moldova and all the former Socialist countries lack opinion leaders and people with attitude. She believes that Moldova can raise people with attitude, but a longer period of time is needed for this. The laws on volunteering help the people to develop the feeling of connection to the community and help them learn that they can do community better. “It is a natural quality for people to want to do good things, for their soul. That’s why the people go to church or do volunteer work and charity,” she added.

Liliana Rotaru, head of the children’s organization CCF Moldova, believes that the civic attitude in Moldova an exception is rather than the rule. The situation cannot be different after dozens of years of forced collectivism. During the last 22 years, Moldovan society moved in the opposite direction, of selfish, indifferent and cold individualism. “I think the difference between the imposed collectivism and the civic spirit is essential: the first is done only for appearances and in a forced way, while the civic spirit is a necessity and is exercised voluntarily,” she stated.

The head of the NGO “Eco-Razeni” Sergiu Gurau considers that the difficult socioeconomic situation in the country directly determines the civic activism degree of the people. The people’s preoccupations, focused mainly on providing the family with what it needs, to the detriment of education and culture, lead to the appearance of generations with a low level of civic spirit. Thus, the situation as regards the development and showing of civic activism among the Moldovans after the proclamation of independence and until now developed slowly, without remarkable progress. “I remember the school years (the second half of the 1990s), when I, together with a group of mates, proposed founding the village museum. Afterward, we took part in a number of cleanup and greening activities in the village. We were directed by teachers, as nowadays. But things didn’t change significantly. The museum didn’t survive. They plant trees and clean up annually now, but there is more and more garbage on the streets and fewer trees,” said Sergiu Gurau.

Civic attitude after the proclamation of independence

”Immediately after the proclamation of Moldova’s independence, there were many donors that invested large sums of money in civil society, in NGOs,” said Antonita Fonari. 80% of these resources were invested in Ltds, while about 20% represented successful investments in organizations that promoted a social idea, no matter whether there was money or not. “There were organizations that cared about their beneficiaries – children who remained without parental care, persons with disabilities and others. This small group of people managed to lay a better basis from zero as the public organizations in the Soviet period were like the ecologists and philatelists,” said Antonita Fonari.

Despite the failures, Antonita Fonari said that in 22 years of independence Moldova developed a basis for society where there is a relationship between the powers. Civil society is one of the powers that affect the country’s development. If it does not work correctly, the country does not grow. “Civil society is a more powerful opposition than the parliamentary opposition. Civil society must be in opposition to the government and must verify it so that there is certain control. The ordinary people often do not have time, knowledge and courage to check where the taxes they pay go.” 

Sergiu Gurau said that starting with 2000, they began to speak more about NGOs and community initiatives. There were created more public associations. “I cannot say that the people’s civic spirit was excessively animated. To my mind, the goal wasn’t achieved because those who form public associations or initiative groups are limited groups of people that mainly do not represent the interests of society in the field,” he stated.

According to Sergiu Gurau, after 2005 the civil society organizations changed the strategy for interacting and communicating with the target group, carried out national information campaigns and mass actions to promote civic participation. But the people mostly ignore these initiatives as they do not fully realize the importance of forming a civic attitude and of taking part in community actions.

Liliana Rotaru considers that the benefits of a society with developed civic spirit are enormous, especially on a long term. “A culture of common responsibility and care for the most vulnerable, the wish to balance the level of welfare and happiness in the country will make the country more prosperous, cleaner and happier,” she stated.

Moldovan authorities listen to civil society’s voice  

“The fact that the state institutions listen to civil society exceeded my expectations when I entered civil society. The Government listens to what the National Participation Council says. Parliament listens to what the NGOs say. This thing was less possible until now. The authorities understand better what volunteering is. The central public authorities understood the role of the NGOs, civil society, and these are accomplishments,” stated Antonita Fonari.

Moldova lacks personal civic spirit  

Antonita Fonari does not believe that something is missing in the area of civic activism at legislative level. “What is missing is the personal civic spirit. The children are not educated at school so that they are able to change things. They are not told that they are important as citizens,” she said.

Antonita Fonari considers that the school should develop the civic competences probably more than certain aspects from physics, chemistry and humanities because, now that most of the parents work abroad, school should educate personalities in harmony with oneself, with the state and the community.

Alina Marin, IPN
August 2013

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