- What is this program?
- What does the program consist of?
- What are the awards?
- Where did the idea come from?
- What makes this program unique? How is it different from other initiatives?
- The program’s initial success
- Who can participate in this program?
- When is the program announced?
- The application procedure
- Selecting the winners
The program “The Best Student in School” is an initiative of the Institute for Rural Initiatives and its local partners. Their mission is to create motivation for studying and healthy academic competition in disadvantaged rural communities while raising academic performance levels and extra-curricular activism at the student level. This initiative is financially supported by the Global Fund for Children in Washington, D.C., USA, and also from individuals interested in promoting this program’s mission.
The program motivates the best students as well as celebrates them at the end of the academic year. The rule for every participating school is to award two students: one that has an excellent academic performance and another that is very active in school and extra-curricular activities.
The title of “The Best Student of the Year” is an honorary title for students in order to motivate them academically and civically. Photographs of the awarded students are displayed on a panel of honor in the school which gives them a sense of dignity and increased confidence in their abilities, which will motivate them to continue to excel.
The program also sends a message to the rest of the students that academic success and civic responsibility are rewarded and appreciated, creating optimism and hope for tomorrow.
The finalists of the Awards Program “The Best Student in School” are presented with diplomas (recognized by the school’s local administration or the Director of Education), gifts and money. The value of the gifts differs from location to location depending on the size of local contributions. The Institute for Rural Initiatives with the support of the Global Fund for Children offers a fixed annual sum that constitutes the financial “base” of the program.
The idea to support students that study in rural area schools came from previous projects meant to increase the level of community involvement in rural towns in the south of Moldova where national minorities were concentrated with an emphasis on communities were Roma live.
Throughout many of the projects conducted by the Institute for Rural Initiatives since 2004, the staff has had the opportunity to analyze a number of issues related to the integration of children in school. One of the major problems was that academic performance, in-school and extra-curricular participation, competitive spirit and personal motivation to study were lower in rural areas in comparison to urban schools that benefit from more established and efficient infrastructures (equipped and comfortable classrooms, necessary teaching materials and equipment, modernized libraries and functioning classrooms, interesting clubs, multimedia centers for students and teachers, sufficiently qualified teachers, etc).
Beginning in 2011, the Institute for Rural Initiatives decided to launch the Award Program “The Best Student in School” an annual contest aimed at stimulating motivation to study and healthy competition in disadvantaged rural communities with the goal of raising the academic performance and extra-curricular activism of students. At the core of the project was a vast reservoir of experience accumulated through different projects completed by the Institute over 9 years of the organization’s activity.
The initial (2011) program was launched in 2 communities in the south of Moldova (district of Cahul): the villages of Alexanderfield and Zirnesti. Later in 2012 in was possible to expand the program to the village of Mingir, Hincesti district, and Gribova, Drochia district. The Institute for Rural Initiatives intends to launch similar initiatives in 4 other schools in different districts over the next 2 years.
The uniqueness of the program “The Best Student in School” comes from the fact that the program is implemented only in disadvantaged rural communities and the program is a permanent fixture; for example while other similar programs that exist in the country are one-time only and are heavily advertised by some commercial entities, the iRi award program has a sustainable nature (of at least 5 years) benefitting from an experienced team that coordinates the program and that monitors and evaluates the measurable impact and added value on a community. The Institute for Rural Initiatives actively plans to ensure the sustainability of these initiatives for 10 to even 15 years.
For this assurance, we need the support of the government of Moldova, an interested foundation in developing the program and also of the citizens that believe in the work of the Institute for Rural Initiatives.
From 2011-2016 the Institute for Rural Initiatives together with their partners succeeded to award 60 students from 4 schools in 3 districts: in the district of Cahul (villages Alexanderfield and Zirnesti), in Mingir, Hincesti district, and in Gribova in Drochia district.
The success of this program was noticed not only by students and parents but by the administration of the 4 schools that noted the positive changes in competitiveness and school participation among participating students.
All students from 5th through 12th form are eligible to participate in the program available at schools selected by the Institute for Rural Initiatives. The selection criteria for schools is decided by having an evaluation study done internally to see the compatibility of the program described above.
The program is openly declared at the beginning of every school year at the official annual opening ceremony (September). Information about this program is posted yearlong on an information board in every school.
How to apply:
Students who wish to participate in this program must complete a letter of intention and leave it with the school secretary.
Students who wish to participate must pay attention to the following conditions:
- the average annual grade of the student must not be less than an 8;
- the student must not only maintain their academic average but must also improve their academic standing in comparison to the previous year of study;
- participation in the Olympiads and other academic competitions is a plus.
Selecting the winners is done by the school administration together with the iRi team with the basic criteria mentioned above. The final decision is recorded on a formal document which presents arguments in favor of the winner.
The end of the school year (May 25) is the deadline for submissions, when it is possible to evaluate academic performance. The results of the competition are announced at the end of the school year (closing bell ceremony – May 31).
The Institute for Rural Initiatives together with its partners salute every effort made to support and promote this initiative in every rural zone in Moldova.
The Institute and its partners are convinced that the spread and implementation of these ideas will contribute not only to short and medium term growth of healthy academic competition and activism for students from our villages, but also will increase activism in our society as a whole.