Igor Komendo, the Projects Manager of GoLOCAL, took part in the World Forum for Democracy Strasburg, November 7-9, 2016.
The main message of this years’ Forum was “The source of democracy is education”. “Education is central to democratic societies. Schools, universities, civil society organisations and other learning institutions should encourage the acquisition and practice of values and skills which are essential for democracy as the main background for sustainable development.”
The programme included the three-day exchange of the thoughts, concepts and best practices of education development and its influence on democracy. The programme included such prominent speakers as:
- Andreas KIEFER (Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Austria);
- Gurdun MOSLER – TORNSTROM (President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Austria);
- Dmytro KULEBA (Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe Ukraine);
- Daniel GALLACHER (Education Manager, Parliament’s Education Service United Kingdom);
- Lilian LEEUWENBURGH-STOLWIJK (Project Manager, Education Department of ProDemos Netherlands);
- Adam NYMAN (Director and Co-founder of Debating Europe Belgium), Alina OSTLING (Research Associate at European University Institute Sweden);
- Valon KURHASANI (Senior Program Manager NDI Kosovo).
Throughout the Forum the participants were discussing the ways to make education to become a bridge between diverse societies. Resulting the discussions, it became clear that it is crucial to enhance the main Pillars of Education such as:
- Correspondence to the digital age
- Human rights oriented
The educational process should be Democratic and free of any discrimination. An innovative approach to participatory school governance by means to fostering ownership of the educational process and learning democracy by practising it.
Democratic schools are built on the four principles:
- All decisions are made together with children
- The children are educated based on human rights, not nationalities
- Children decide what to learn
- Children decide what teachers are to educate them
Thorbjorn Jagland (Secretary General of the Council of Europe) noted “Today we need the schools to foster democratic and critical thinking. We want to make schools the “face to face” debate platform and not the thoughts` police”.
Afterwards, Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, expressed the idea “The quality education for girls is key to sustainable development. Once you educate a girl, she will take the responsibility for her life and educate her children…..”
Among other activities of the Forum GoLOCAL participated in three panels within the Forum:
- “Regional outlook on the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”.
- “Unlocking parliament”. The panel explored the benefits and challenges of experiential learning.
- “Deciphering media”. The panel examined initiatives for raising literacy and competence of citizens by the media and ways of increasing meaningful participation via social media.
The World Forum for Democracy is a unique platform for political decision-makers and activists to debate solutions to key challenges for democracies worldwide. By identifying and analysing experimental initiatives and practices, the Forum highlights and encourages democracy innovations at the grassroots and their transfer on a systemic level to strengthen the foundations of democratic societies. The Forum thus contributes to the evolution of democracy towards more participatory and inclusive structures and institutions.