Credit: Yasser Machat.Acknowledging that solutions cannot be devised in isolation, and complex realities must be considered, this year’s World Forum for Democracy began with high energy and vibrant exchanges of ideas on education, equality and governance.
We asked youth participants, from Singapore to Zambia, to share what inspired them and what lessons they will be taking back home.
Bernard Lim, Singapore
“I learnt that democracy is essential for all nations regardless of space and time. People yearn to be free all the time; they cannot bear to be jailed or shut in their own spaces. They want to be able to express, live, talk and think freely.”
People yearn to be free all the time; they cannot bear to be jailed or shut in their own spaces.
Rachmi Satwhikawara, Indonesia
“I learnt, from what the speaker from Afghanistan said, that we are different, but we should focus on our similarities to move forward. Also, I learnt that other countries also have problems just like my country, and that we are in this together.”
Madina Tursynbay, Kazakhstan
“The speakers from Israel and Afghanistan showed, by sharing their work, that it is possible to have democracy and democratic education. They showed that education is possible but it demands hard work. I think those who say it is not possible to have better education are those who are not working enough. What we need to do is get together with like-minded people.”
Jedidah Millapo, Zambia
“I learnt that you don’t have to talk to learn; you can learn just by listening. I feel it is possible to learn more by talking less. This is what I deduced from the speaker from Afghanistan, whose work revolves around listening to what people want. Another thing that inspired me were the unconventional ways of managing schools shared by the speaker from Israel.”
Nicoleta Paladi, Moldova
“I learnt there are more questions than answers, and every question cannot have the right answer if you don’t look at the context – culture, history, needs – of the country. Everything is interdependent, and that it is not one factor that can answer the questions we have. One striking thing is that educational institutions are not all-powerful and any reform in this domain depends on legislation and on the will of the politicians. But despite all of these limitations, if the desire to improve is strong, and if there's motivation to overcome the struggles, success can be achieved.”
In my country there's this expectation for women to be better mothers and homemakers while their education and awareness is largely ignored.
Kateryna Lazarchuk, Ukraine
“The esteemed speaker from Afghanistan talked about hard things, but also practical steps which shows it is possible to solve problems. What I found particularly interesting is what the PM of Norway said about gender equality in terms of access to education. As a Ukrainian, I was touched because in my country there's this expectation for women to be better mothers and homemakers while their education and awareness is largely ignored. Interestingly, many countries around the world are facing problems in terms of education and democracy and so we in a way are united to fix our problems. We are all bound together in this regard, and our nationalities and beliefs don't matter much.”
Bindiya Vaid, India
“I feel there's a large gap between ‘ideals and abstract ideas’ and ‘implementation and sustainability’. The question is: how do we use our cultures to achieve a common goal, and not be used as a dividing line? Instead of not using the one ingredient we think will spoil the broth, we should use it as our secret ingredient that will make any soup better.”
Astrid Arbildo Luna, Peru
“We have already heard some interesting speeches from ‘important people who make the decisions’, and one question comes to our minds: is the World Forum for Democracy just another expression of good intentions, or are we witnessing a historic moment where people are going to actually do something? From my perspective, I think we are listening to the kind of talk that we hear all the time, walking past the real problem: inequality is a result of the economic system, and education is only reflecting and working for an unfair system that converts humans into commodities."
openDemocracy is at this year's World Forum for Democracy, exploring the relationship between education and democracy with a youth newsroom. More here.