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In memoriam: Alenka Elena Begant (1965-2014)

Alenka Elena Begant

6 July 2014 -- We mourn the untimely death of Elena Begant, a distinguished educator and activist, and member of the Board of the Democracy and Human Rights Education in Europe Network (DARE).

Elena studied Slovenian and English Language and Literature at the University of Maribor (Slovenia). After her studies she became a teacher of English at the Commercial High School in Maribor in 1990, where she taught for 22 years until she became the principal of the Waldorf School in Maribor.

Elena's passion for education and social justice and boundless energy expressed themselves through the many voluntary activities that she was involved in. She was the founder of the Slovenian chapter of "Education as Instrument for Peace (EIP)-School for Peace" -- the first organisation in Slovenia dedicated to human rights education. She served as its president from 1999 until 2009.

In January 2010, Elena and her husband, Aleksander Begant, established the Center for Citizenship Education. The Center continued the work of EIP-Slovenia but was also involved in the monitoring of national and local elections. For many years she was also actively engaged in the Slovenian chapter of Amnesty International. Since August 2013 Elena had been working as Expert Advisor for Miha Pogačnik, a famous Slovenian violinist, innovator and entrepreneur.

Elena was a creative educator who was passionate about transforming teaching and learning processes into experiences that prepared young Slovenian minds to participate in global society. Fifteen years ago she created an interactive learning tool oriented towards the values of democracy, inclusion, non-discrimination and human rights that was recognized regionally by the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Elena was also author, editor and translator of many human rights education manuals, including the Council of Europe's Compass and Amnesty International's First Steps.

Elena had been an active member of the DARE Network since it was established in 2003. Over the years she developed many useful evaluation tools for the network and was responsible for organising the 2013 DARE Spring Academy, among many other activities. She served as DARE’s Treasurer from 2011-2013 and was re-elected to the DARE Board by the General Assembly in Rome last November to become Vice-Chair.

Elena was tireless in her efforts, devoting herself to her citizenship and human rights education work in Slovenia and abroad, while simultaneously maintaining her roles as a teacher and principal in the Slovenian educational system and wife and mother in her family. She was loved and respected by the DARE Board and Network members and many other colleagues in the Europe-wide movement to promote active citizenship and human rights education. Her death is a great loss and her absence will be felt for many years to come.

Elena died at her home in Limbus, near Maribor last Saturday, June 28th, in a tragic family drama. Her funeral took place on Wednesday, July 2nd. Elena left two children, a 10-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.


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