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World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg: three days to discuss about education

Representing the Ethics Education initiative, Ms Eleonora Mura, Program Officer of Arigatou International, attended the World Forum for Democracy on the theme “Democracy & Equality, does Education matter?” that took place in Strasbourg, France from 7 to 9 November 2016.

StrasbourgThe Forum brought together 2200 participants from more than 100 countries, representing political institutions, academia, media, civil society organisations, democracy innovators and educators to offer perspectives and give recommendations on the two key questions on the role of education in creating, shaping and buttressing democracy and in helping to reduce inequalities.

Education is naturally associated with the types of values that can help shape a more democratic society. Participatory democracy needs participatory education; but is education really contributing to democracy and how “democratic” is it? For three days, the Forum participants discussed a variety of perspectives and showcased several initiatives during the Labs.

The buzz words at the Forum were democratic schools enabling pupils to produce knowledge together and with teachers, co-decision by pupils and teachers, including on content and school governance, preparing students to become alert and active citizens, critical thinking, the desire for freedom and individual self-esteem crucial for engaging in education and becoming resilient to manipulation. The conclusions of the Forum are available here.

To respond to some of these aspiration, the Council of Europe has developed in 2016 a framework of competences for democratic culture, which will guide educationalists in the complex task of helping learners to develop values, attitudes and skills for living in diverse democratic societies.

For Arigatou International the participating to the Forum presented a great opportunity to learn about new and emerging initiatives and to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders and potential partners such as the Europe Advisory Council on Youth, Immersive Lab, Scholas Foundation, the General Rapporteur to Combat Racism and Intolerance in the Council of Europe, the UN High-Level Commissioner for Health and Employment, among others.