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.
However, the economic crisis and unemployment have lead many countries to focus education mostly on preparing learners for the labour market. Education is instrumental for community-building, social cohesion and a sense of belonging to society. In today’s increasingly diverse, interdependent societies, the capacity to engage across cultural and other differences and transcend a narrow understanding of a national interest in order to address the common challenges for humanity, is becoming crucial. Is it possible to build upon successful innovative initiatives from across the world to strengthen the democratic mission of education?
The World Forum for Democracy 2016 will focus on how education can help bridge the social divide and become a real asset for our diverse democracies. The Forum will analyse the impact of education systems on democracy and identify innovative initiatives and practices which can make education (both formal and non-formal) more democracy-centred, and critically assess their potential to trigger systemic change. It will focus on the issue of how education can become better at nurturing citizens as active members of society who engage in public space – and how grassroots innovation can be enhanced to promote change in education practice on a greater scale. The Forum will discuss not only what Education can do for Democracy but also what Democracy can do for Education.
The World Forum for Democracy is a platform for dialogue and innovation dedicated to democracy which promotes the Council of Europe principles across the world. A unique event of its kind, it deals with challenges facing democracy taking as a starting point innovative initiatives and practice, and fostering debate between different actors in order to find SOLUTIONS. The Forum highlights and encourages democratic innovation to strengthen the foundations of democratic societies. A democratic exercise in itself, the Forum aims at giving the people – demos – their rightful place in political decision-making. It thus contributes to the evolution of democracy towards more participatory and inclusive structures and institutions.
The labs are the heart of the World Forum for Democracy. Their idea is to address specific issues through the critical analysis of tested initiatives. The initiatives will be presented in short speeches of ten minutes and critically assessed by multidisciplinary panels and participants in the labs. Cartoonists will illustrate the sessions live. The key conclusions and lessons learnt from the labs will be discussed in a summing up session in order to prepare the overall conclusions for the Forum.
Interested organisations/institutions worldwide are invited to express their interest in presenting an example/initiative to make education more democracy-centred or to revitalise democracy through education, by answering the questionnaire in the appendix and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 May 2016. The World Forum Task Force will select the most interesting and relevant proposals in June 2016.
One presenter for the selected initiatives will be invited to Strasbourg to take part in the World Forum. Funded places are available. Any public or private organisation is eligible to apply.
Online registration for the Forum will open in September. The Forum is open to the public and participation is free of charge.
For further information about the World Forum for Democracy 2016, please visit the following websites: