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Ukraine: Canada Funds Democracy Study Program

Ottawa, 17 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Canada will spend $2 million to help the Ukrainian government set up the first national program in the study of democracy. Another $1 million will be contributed by the Soros Foundation in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Ministry of Education.

The program will be funded through Canada's foreign aid organization, the Canadian International Development Agency. A Canadian school, Queen's University, will oversee the creation of a foundation course in democracy for all of Ukraine's universities, teachers' colleges and journalism schools.

Queen's University will bring 48 Ukrainian professors to its Kingston, Ontario campus for training. As well, the university will produce a general text book on democratic development in Ukraine, commission 25 specialized texts on democratic issues to be translated into Ukrainian and set up a network of teachers and researchers in democratic education. Another part of the project will introduce Ukrainian educators to computer- and Internet-based teaching methods.

The project was developed by Professor George Perlin, head of the Queen's University Center for the Study of Democracy. He surveyed teaching of democracy in Ukrainian post-secondary institutions and found that fewer than five per cent had a basic introductory course in democratic government.

In a news release issued by the university, Perlin says there are many other western universities working on the development of democratic studies in the former communist countries but this is the first project in any of these countries with the potential to have a system-wide effect.

The program will start in September with Queen's offering four courses for young Ukrainian professors to introduce them to the latest western research and theoretical literature in the study of democratic government and politics.