The Educational Society for Malopolska (MTO) is a multi-faceted non-governmental organization, which promotes a democratic and civic society by helping other organizations and individuals, including ethnic minorities and the disadvantaged. Founded in 1988 by a group of parents and teachers active in the Solidarity movement, it was one of the first educational societies registered in post-communist Poland. From the beginning it was very much concerned with the consequences of the political, economic and social changes in the countries in transition and was keenly aware of the challenges young people face in this new world. MTO’s mission is to equip future generations with the tools needed for success as responsible global citizens.
Małopolskie Towarzystwo Oświatowe (MTO) was created with two goals in mind: to support innovative teachers and teaching methods that would work towards an open and tolerant Europe, and to create an independent school that would put those teaching methods into practice. In pursuit of the first goal, workshops and teacher training in a variety of social service venues have been instituted in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. As a result of its second goal, Zespół Szkół Społecznych (SPLOT) was created as an independent school in 1989, and remains the cornerstone of MTO and the vehicle through which the first goal is achieved. Splot celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2009.
Apart from continuing to operate SPLOT, whose alumni by now include PhDs, politicians, lawyers, medical doctors, businessmen and women as well as managers in international corporations, MTO over the years has developed as an NGO incubator in the Balkans, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan. MTO supports the development of NGOs in Central and Eastern European countries, promoting cooperation between NGOs and public administration, providing training and international exchange opportunities for all types of schools, as well as playing an active part in international educational and civil society-building networks. Through the exchange of information, MTO strives to increase not only public awareness, but also to promote action in support of civic society.
In 2004 MTO received the Polish equivalent of the U.S. 501 (C)(3) Public Charity Status. MTO is a founding member of “Grupa Zagranica” (Federation of Polish NGOs Working Abroad: www.zagranica.org.pl). MTO was awarded Poland’s prestigious “Pro Publico Bono” award in 2005 for its School Plus Network. MTO founder, Alicja Derkowska (elected Ashoka Fellow in 1998; for Ashoka, Innovators for the Public, see www.ashoka.org) joined the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy in 2008.