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openDemocracy is partnering with the World Forum for Democracy 2016, to draw inspiration from a wide range of innovative grassroots and political initiatives worldwide, and kick-start the debate on what education can do for democracy and what democracy can do for education.

Democracies contain a promise of equitable education opportunities. But social divides persist, and are even growing worldwide. Is education fulfilling its democratic mission or is it failing to build the key qualities for democratic citizenship? How can education not only preach but also practice democracy, nurturing active citizens with critical and analytical skills? How can teachers, learners, families, civil society organisations, public authorities, and the media foster this?

Loomio, and offering access to the skills of deliberation

"Most people are alienated from deliberation. We don’t do it in school, and we don’t do it in our political system.”

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The future of education: opening plenary at WFD2016

The two keynote speakers come from very different worlds. But both agree that a revolution in education is required. (Video 34 minutes)

The IMF on inequality: beyond organised hypocrisy?

So far, the nature of Christine Lagarde’s speeches and the discussions I had with Fund staff this week suggest that there is more work to be done.

The mystery of ‘populism’ finally unveiled

The philosopher of post-Fascism enters the populism fray with his own candidate for post-truth – Left betrayal.

The current and future challenges of Middle Eastern studies

In the wake of Trump's victory, what are the challenges for Middle Eastern studies in the US? And what should be the role of academics in the field?

Surviving sociology in Egypt and elsewhere

Strangely, although nationalism is a pervasive social phenomenon with immense effects everywhere in the world, it’s not a central preoccupation of sociology or any of the dominant social science disciplines. Interview.

Mind your language

As Marine Le Pen calls on French citizens to renounce dual citizenship in France’s presidential election campaign, bilingual school education is the site of another battle for diversity in Wales.

Fighting inequality in the UK has to start young

“Universality is key to sustainability and to acceptability of programmes of this kind.  Universal support also reflects our strong belief that parenting skills are not innate and all parents need support.”  

Adhocracy helps create a future of political engagement

For us, it is already a democratic achievement if you have the possibility to participate.

Simplicity, openness, and modifiability

Governments, endogamic institutions since forever, are not used to opening up. But now there’s political will for it to happen, if a lot of trial and error in the process.

“No birthdays here”

For the forgotten children of the refugee crisis, school brings a transient normality to life in the camps.

State surveillance is a global threat to press freedom

The state should not have the power to secretly identify then persecute whistleblowers.

Why whistleblowers are essential to democracy

In a functioning democracy, it is absolutely crucial for power to be held to account. For this we need whistleblowers.

China and the embarrassment of western democracy

The trouble for democracy does not come from Beijing, or from globalisation, or from abroad, or, in Britain, from immigration or from Europe. It resides at home.

An inside-outside strategy for defending the US Republic

Both the administrative pillar of resistance and the ‘Indivisible’ legislative pillar will be bolstered if linked to a grassroots strategy of cross-issue mobilizing and direct action – the core strategy.

The media–technology–military industrial complex

In a world of so-called fake news and post-truth politics, the influence of largely invisible qualities of concentrated power over media, public and policy agendas, warrants renewed and urgent scrutiny.

The battle for minds, and role of human behaviour in generating plutocracies

The control or influence of information is diffused through education, politics, culture, media and the process of socialization.

Inclusive education exists in Russia, but only in theory

In Russia, inclusive education needs additional support. Children with special educational needs are often lucky to get any education — or any work afterwards. Русский

Our common ground: a salute to the Young Global Collective

The renowned Egyptian novelist and beacon of the Arab uprisings in conversation with the Transnational Institute, speaks of inequality, global conferring, cultures in resistance, solidarity, democracy and justice today.

The internet can spread hate, but it can also help to tackle it

Hate picks no sides—it merely fills the gaps left by broken communication.

Colombia: education will be key to ending the violence

Breaking the cycle of violence will require educational opportunities for young people, who are still especially susceptible to being recruited by armed groups. Español

Lost years: secondary education for children in emergencies

Older children deserve the same protection and support offered to primary school age children, and above all need to be in school. Continuing to ignore their needs would be a grave mistake.

European University at St Petersburg: a survival guide

One of Russia’s foremost research and education institutions is under threat of closure. The solidarity of its staff and students gives hope for the future.

War, peace and the technological revolution

Technology is forcing through a new form of conversation — even in conflicts. How will the next generation of tools transform the construction of peace?

The future of education: Georges Haddad and Yaacov Hecht at the World Forum for Democracy 2016

The two keynote speakers come from very different worlds. But both agree that a revolution in education is required, with the self-determination of the individual – all individuals – at its centre. Video.

Wise young people

"These young people, they really don’t want to feel like victims: they really want to act and to instigate change." An interview to mark Human Rights Day.

The popular movement of Oaxaca, ten years later

The 2006 popular revolt in Oaxaca was the most significant movement in Mexico's recent history. 10 years on, its heritage lies in multiple protest action and stronger social relations among the population. Español

Liberation pedagogy in Mexico’s social movements

Education understood as a pillar of political activity, on the basis of criticism and resistance, becomes a fundamental means for struggling to end poverty, marginalization, slavery and exploitation.

John Dewey’s ‘intelligent populism’: beyond Brexit, Trump and post-truth

Both left and right populism are based on a low opinion of public intelligence (an assumption, incidentally, shared with neoliberalism). What is needed is an ‘intelligent populism’.

Loomio and the problem of deliberation

One of the frustrations within the current political system is that most people are alienated from deliberation. The founders of decision-making software Loomio want to give everyone access to that essential skill. 

Closing plenary remarks on a paradox

Many of the most innovative projects we encountered at this year's World Forum for Democracy on education, inequality and democracy involve a transfer of power.

SOLE in Argentina: the issue is how to create the right questions

The goals of the project were to reach low-resourced community schools with a new way of integrating ICT use for a sector of society that usually doesn’t have access to educational innovation.

Reinventing student government in Bolivia: Democracy In Practice

This initiative, selected as a finalist for the 2016 Democracy Innovation Award, took place in public schools in Bolivia and experiments with creative ways of reinventing student government.

'By talking to one another, we can learn to respect one another'

Anja Van den Durpel is Head of Integration Services at the City of Ghent, tasked with helping integration and soothing community tensions in the diverse Belgian city. Here's how she does it.

Kiron provides refugees with opportunities to study

The Berlin-based social start-up Kiron Open Higher Education delivers higher education to refugees. Through an innovative blended learning model that consists of online and offline elements, bureaucratic, financial and legal barriers are overcome.

"If a poor child cannot come to the education, then education must go to him."

Interview with Sachin Joshi, pioneering educationalist from India, at the World Forum for Democracy 2016.

Notes from the opening plenary: towards teachers and students deciding on 20% of the curriculum together

“We say there cannot be two democratic schools that are the same. But you can find these four major rules in most of them.”

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