Why is democratic education important

Objectives and activities of the Conference of Ministers of Education

One of the primary goals of school education is to enable young people to orientate themselves in modern society and to competently assess political, social and economic questions and problems. They should be encouraged to stand up for freedom, democracy, human rights, justice, economic security and peace. In principle, all subjects are committed to this overarching goal, especially those in the social sciences.

At its 325th meeting on March 5th / 6th, 2009, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs celebrates the 90th anniversary of the constitution of the Weimar Republic and the adoption of the first practiced democratic constitution on German soil, the 60th anniversary of the Basic Law and the 20th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in the GDR in 2009 and the 20th anniversary of German unity in 2010 as an opportunity to once again emphasize the outstanding importance of education for democracy as a task of school work in the form of a declaration and to honor democratic commitment in the context of school activities (press release here ). The kick-off event took place from June 24th to 25th, 2009 in Potsdam, a symposium for which the states of Brandenburg and Thuringia were responsible under the subject of "Democracy in School: Participation - Historical and Political Education - Values". The conference documentation and materials can be found here. During its 326th meeting on June 18, 2009, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs recommended that a project day be held every year on November 9th to deal with German history in the 20th century in the secondary levels I and II to strengthen democratic education. The Federal Agency for Civic Education, the Federal Foundation for Processing and at that time the Federal Commissioner for the Documents of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic took this decision as an opportunity to put together a package of didactic materials for the organization of such a project day.

Against the background of current social and political developments as well as the rapid advance of digitization, the Conference of Ministers of Education revised its recommendation from 2009 and published on October 11, 2018 under the title "Democracy as a goal, object and practice of historical-political education and upbringing in the School "passed.

Since 2007, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs has been holding a symposium on central issues of democracy education together with the Federal Agency for Civic Education. These are documented on the Federal Office's website.

In addition, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs supported the initiative, which is supported by a broad alliance of civil society organizations and which is under the patronage of the Federal President

Culture of remembrance

In connection with the numerous commemorative anniversaries, especially in 2014 and 2015, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs adopted recommendations on the culture of remembrance as an object of historical and political education in schools at its 348th meeting on December 11, 2014 under the title "Remembering for the Future" (English translation here).

In the field of tension between different possible interpretations of history, it is equally about the acquisition of historical awareness, knowledge, empathy, the development of a democratic attitude and the promotion of judgment and action competence. In this process, individual and social, culturally sensitive and multi-perspective as well as reflective remembering play an important role.

On May 12, 1965, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs took the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany as an opportunity to publish a brochure on German-Israeli educational work, also entitled "Remembering for the Future". These and a compilation of projects in the countries in the context of the anniversary year were presented to the Ambassador of the State of Israel during his visit to the Conference of Ministers of Education on March 12, 2015. For the press release and the documents see here.

European and international initiatives for democracy education

With the Charter of the Council of Europe on Education for Democracy and Human Rights (EDC / HRE), supported by the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in 2010, for the first time coordinated definitions of democracy and human rights education and the associated objectives are available for all 50 signatory states to the Council of Europe's Cultural Convention.

The Charter understands education for democracy and human rights as the task of lifelong learning. Their recommendations for action aim to anchor the EDC / HRE in formal general education, vocational training, higher education and research as well as in the training and further education of teachers and educators. When teaching democracy and human rights education, actors outside of school, such as non-governmental and youth organizations, should be more involved and supported.

The German working translation of the Charter agreed with Austria and Switzerland can be found here.

Innovative projects and programs from the federal and state governments to improve the quality of the education system