Education and socially responsible youth
Education acts as an effective medium of communication to raise youth who are socially responsible; however, without real-world experience, this education often remains theoretical and is rarely put into practice. When a school prioritizes social responsibility, the school, and individuals within it acts in the best interests of its environment and society as a whole. For schools to allow their students to understand the real-world needs around them, they must provide authentic opportunities for students to engage with the local community.
IB schools believe that students are agents of change and have the potential to make a difference.
At The International School of Azerbaijan (TISA), impact through service is an integral part of everything they do; it is embedded in their mission and vision, where they aim to “engage as thoughtful, generous and resilient members of our local and global communities, taking action in Azerbaijan and beyond.” Because service learning is something TISA highly prioritizes, such teachings are integrated into the curriculum as well as after-school activities.
This year, TISA’s connection with the local community has been stronger than ever thanks to the development of a mutual partnership with the LU-MUN Holding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department. This relationship began in September when CSR specialist Gunel Isakova led a presentation aimed at the entire secondary school on the various social and environmental projects LU-MUN Holding is involved in. This presentation was just the beginning, and it inspired students and teachers alike.
LU-MUN Holding believes in continued cooperation to create a positive impact and help make the world a better place, which is very much in line with TISA’s own values as a school; therefore, the partnership with the Holding made perfect sense. The mutual partnership between TISA and LU-MUN Holding has grown over the past year and allows students to connect to the local community and make a real difference. At the same time, it allows LU-MUN Holding to support passionate young agents of change.
TISA strongly believes in giving back to the community through everything they do. When it was time for the drama department to put on the Moana Jr. production in April 2022, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) immediately began looking for ways to make an impact. The team decided to assign a percentage of the funds raised through the concession stand to provide 4 days of drama workshops for 23 children deprived of parental care living at Umid Yeri children’s shelter.
The TISA Whole School Art Show held in May 2022 was also an event from which funds raised in the amount of 1311 AZN went to providing 4 day therapeutic art workshops at YARAT Contemporary Art Space for 20 children living at Temiz Dunya children’s shelter.
P6 (Grade 3) students were learning about children’s rights and wanted to meet an expert in children with no parental care. The representative of LU-MUN Holding came to meet with the students to speak with them about various target groups and their needs. The presentation was so touching that P6 was inspired to organize a grade-level walkathon to raise awareness and funds for underprivileged children. The fundraised amount (2542 AZN) was spent in purchasing school supplies for 150+ children living in three children’s shelters.
Inspired by the presentation done by a representative from LU-MUN Holding, a group of M3 (Grade 8) students decided to support a Youth Offenders Center through their MYP Community Project, which the M2 (Grade 7) year level supported with their 10AZN Challenge. This collaborative initiative led to books and board games being purchased for the center as well as self-development workshops being provided with the funds raised.
A group of M5 (Grade 10) students decided to use their language skills to teach those who most needed it but were struggling to find a community to support. They reached out to the LU-MUN Holding CSR representative and were able to start weekly sessions with university students from low-income families.
As part of the curriculum, last year’s M3 (grade 8) Azerbaijani class was learning about local environmental issues. After having conducted firsthand research with representatives from Təmiz Şəhər and Ecofront, the students created an awareness campaign with lessons done in the Azerbaijani language. They wanted to reach out to a local community to spread awareness beyond TISA, so they reached out to LU-MUN Holding to help connect with a group that would benefit from such sessions.
As an IB school, TISA carries out two major grade-level projects each year – the Community Project, done in M3 (Grade 8), and the Personal Project, done in M5 (grade 10). These give students from both grades a chance to work in a group and individually, respectively, to achieve a goal that serves an individual learning purpose but also to benefit a community. The many projects done each year provide the opportunity for building awareness and taking action while simultaneously instilling vital service skills in students.
TISA’s strong system of community service is fortunately already spreading to other local schools; Elisa Scalabre, a DP1 student from TISA, has taken the mission of TISA Action Network (an organization within the school that aims to connect students and projects) and expanded it to other schools in Baku through an initiative called Changemaker Baku. This project involves a group of representatives from four schools in Baku (the number is growing) that are striving to combine their resources and connect students within the schools to make a difference in the local community. The first session was held towards the end of September, where introductions were made, ideas were shared, and a LU-MUN Holding CSR Specialist presented as a guest speaker to spark some discussion. This is the beginning of a very beneficial association for Baku’s students that want to take action on a larger scale.
Service builds strong leadership skills. Both LU-MUN Holding and International School of Azerbaijan (TISA) encourage public and private schools to engage more students to contribute to their community and make a positive change. We believe more and more schools will boost and uphold their service programs to give young changemakers a voice.
Editor: Inji Abdullayeva