School of active citizenship – for young people and adults, 2003/2004 - action "What can we do for the local community?” funded by the Academy for Educational Development (AED) within the CroNGO program of the American agency for international development (USAID).

Defining the problem (the needs of our target community)

This project is focusing on a suburb of Zagreb - Dubrava. The extent and nature of the problems of young people and adults within that community became clear to us during our activities there in 2000 and 2001 (attached is a comprehensive documentation about that).

The young people from Dubrava are witnesses and participants of industrial, migration and cultural changes in their immediate environment which is composed of a great number of minority groups (such as the Roma, displaced person from Bosnia – either of Croatian or Bosniac origin, refugees from Kosovo: Croats from Janjevo, Albanians and Macedonians, as well as settlers from Slavonia, Zagorje, Dalmatia) and marginalized groups (rural, unemployed, uneducated population). Emulating the adults (their parents, family and neighbors), young people develop needs and ways of surviving at any cost, which often leads to socially unacceptable forms of behavior. On the other hand, those same conditions and problems stimulate the need for accepting proactive life strategies, accelerated decision-making and accepting challenges, greater freedom of initiative and activity, flexible cooperation with others, reorganization of behavior in the direction of greater resistance to problematic situations. In all this, we see an opportunity for a successful implementation of this project.

Taking into account existing life conditions and focusing on the improvement of developmental opportunities for young people (through participation and practicing proactive life strategies, skills of decision-making, accepting problematic situations as life challenges, encouraging initiatives and cooperation as well as self-organizing at the local level), the mali korak has given support to programs that have, according to previous experiences, proven the most successful.

The specificity of our approach is in our belief that the most efficient way to work on empowering marginalized groups in the local community is through schools. Gathering of citizens as parents and the local authorities around the issues of common interest concerning schools and the developmental needs and future of their children enables the creation of the atmosphere of togetherness which is a powerful motive for citizens’ engagement. At the same time, this enables the creation of the so-called safe place i.e. field of possibility for connecting people within the local community. We use the syntagm  school-youth-community as an 'alibi' for gathering the concerned parents in all their social roles (unemployed, business-persons, uneducated, experts …) as well as professional institutions, political and public employees who support concrete youth actions and who have initiative, ideas, time, energy and strong will for such work.

Kraljevec 77a, Zagreb,

tel./fax. 01 4578 341


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MALI KORAK - Centre for Culture of Peace and nonviolence • Kraljevec 77a, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia • t. 01 4578 341 • f. 01 4578 341 • e.