How does Europe teach children to govern and stand against fakes?

How does Europe teach children to govern and stand against fakes?

When visiting Strasbourg, winners of the DYTIATKO Media Festival in the nomination “We are local self-governance!” mastered many skills as to behavior at the heart of democracy – the Palace of Europe. The most valuable achievement is exclusive interviews which have been made with the officials there. 

As this year the topic of the forum was connected with handling of information, struggle from fakes in the context of threats for democracy, the young TV workers wondered how Europe was teaching children to govern and stand against fakes.

Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress of the Council of Europe, told that his native Salzburg hosted an event “City of children”:

“Children get different self-governing roles: today you are a Mayor and tomorrow you may be a deputy. In such a manner children can practically learn how local self-governance is functioning.”

He also gave a piece of advice how to distinguish fakes:

– the way how parents handle information becomes a model for their children;

–  handling of information should be responsible, one should ask himself “Is it possible?” “Does it connect with the information I have already heard?”

– children should use various sources of information: both printed and electronic ones. Only by doing this they have an opportunity to analyze the received information with a critical eye and determine for themselves: “Yes, it’s  the truth” or “No, I doubt this.”

Tina Mulkhaki, Director of the Youth Center of the Council of Europe told in her interview that there are councils of school self-government at some schools, they are represented by one or two students from each school form. Every month the representatives of such councils arrange meetings with teachers and discuss what should be amended. This comes to schools.

As to the local context, namely municipalities, in Strasbourg, for example, there is a local youth council. Schools select children from middle school, age 13-15 years – a child representing a school – to local school councils. They often meet with local politicians and exchange background – the idea is in the shared governance.”

Certainly, it is not exactly common between the participants, children make proposals which can be accepted or not. In France there are some so-called “schools of democracy” which are governed, to some extent, by children with help of adults.

As Tina Mulkhaki said, “Here, at the Youth Center of the Council of Europe, we work with representatives of every country-participant, with representatives of relevant ministries and committees. There are lots of committees where young people from various international youth organizations work. Thus, all the actions which the youth sector of the Council of Europe performs in the sphere of the youth politics are governed not only by the officials but also by the young people representing youth organizations all over Europe.  And this is the real self-governance, since if the officials want to do something but the youth does not, it will never happen. It means that all issues are discussed and solved with participation of the youth committee.”

Claudia Luciani, Head of the Directorate for Human Dignity, Equality and Governance at the Council of Europe, emphasizes that people are not born with skills of opposition to deceptive information. They should be formed while studying, when children learn to listen to the opinions of others, to be actively involved in the democratic process. 

“Strong democracy is based on powerful role of the public media which tells the truth but not retranslates a position of political structures. This particular stimulates training skills of anti-fake perception of information among young people,” Claudia Luciani emphasizes, giving two key methods of opposition to deceptive information:

  • To verify the news using the social media, that is not only a center of fake information but also a source to verify its faithful representation. There are many online-resources for that purpose.
  • Involvement of children to self-governance – children learn it from childhood, from the primary school. They have an opportunity to create own councils, to select a mayor, to set the agenda.


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