Photo: © 2017, Peace Dialogue NGO. Author: Armine Zakaryan
On February 4, 11, and 18, 2017 workshops were organized for 20 young activists and students aged 17-35 at Peace Dialogue NGO office. The aim of the workshops was to discuss with the participants and raise their understanding of the principles of democracy, to understand how much they see human rights, freedom, diversity and equality, as well as people’s free choice and mutual cooperation as important values that serve the basis for building a democratic society.
The workshops were based on a very popular educational method in teaching democracy called Betzavta (Togetherness) which was founded and practiced in Israel by the founder of the institute and director Aki Maroshek – Klarman in mid 20th century. He believed that the academic disciplines taught in political science departments of universities have almost nothing to do with real democracy and do not solve many problems which people face in their everyday life.
The aforementioned method was then used in Israeli schools and higher educational institutions, as an alternative training method to the existing academic approaches.
It should be noted that the method aroused great interest among the participants who expressed willingness to regularly participate in other similar activities.
The participants mentioned that the questions raised during the workshops were very relevant and valuable, however there are no definite answers and solutions because in building a democracy not everyone has the same perceptions and binding rules of conduct. Democracy-building is a multi-layered and long-term process which itself depends on many sociocultural, economic and political factors.
During the workshops, questions were asked which were meant to reveal what young people see as important issues related to democratic processes and human rights in the country and the community. The organizers assured that they will take into account all the opinions expressed by young people in their future work with young people.
The workshops were organized and implemented with the support of the website collected through online donations Global Giving