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UNESCO/MOST Discussion paper 62
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How to improve education for democratic governance?

As such, this study suggests that UNESCO-MOST pursue its assessment of its potential role in the area of education for democratic governance. It recommends that:

  • (i) its contribution be genuinely global in nature, crossing geographic, linguistic and cultural boundaries;
  • (ii) it make the best use of the emerging opportunities offered by modern information technologies, especially virtual education and e-learning, on the model of “virtual universities”;
  • (iii) its focus be explicitly political, thus focusing on education, training, and capacity-building for deepening and extending democracy and consolidating political governance;
  • (iv) it target in particular civil society and political parties in developing countries.

  • UNESCO-MOST could consider initiating exploratory contacts with a number of organizations active in this field, in particular the International Institute on Governance (on e-learning for democratic governance) and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (on capacity-building for democratic governance). It should also explore the possibility of establishing strategic partnerships within the United Nations system, in particular with the United Nations University (especially its peace and governance programme) and the United Nations Development Programme, which has adopted the promotion of democratic governance as one of its core priority in the context of its current reform (especially in the context of the democratic governance centre to be established in Oslo). The International University on Human Development (UNIDH) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Institute on Governance constitutes a useful model. In operational terms, the feasibility process could be sequenced in two stages, a pilot stage and an implementation stage.

    A pilot exercise could be conducted on a limited basis in the first year. This stage would involve the organization of a focused on-line course on a specific theme such as, for instance, “democratic governance, civil society and political parties” targeted at democracy activities in both civil society organizations and political parties. The course could be organized on a period of four to six months and comprised of four to six teaching modules each co-ordinated by an expert in each of the sub-fields selected. It would lead to a UNESCO-homologated certificate of studies. The sub-fields for the pilot course could include, for instance:
  • (i) democracy and good governance: challenges and opportunities;
  • (ii) state and society: new rules of the game?;
  • (iii) participation and representation: the role of civil society and political parties;
  • (iv) the culture of democracy: dialogue, negotiation and compromise; and
  • (v) democratic local governance.

  • The course background material could be based on a special issue or successive issues of the UNESCO-MOST e-journal on democratic governance.

    The pilot stage would already involve significant investment from UNESCO-MOST as the policy contents of the programme would be decided upon and the basic electronic infrastructure should be in place. An option to consider, given the technological requirements of the endeavour, would be to establish an institutional co-operation with an organization with established e-learning programmes. However, critical choices will have to be made at an early stage, including, inter alia, the selection of the curriculum in accordance to UNESCO-MOST mandate and comparative advantage as well as the choice of languages and regional coverage. In that respect, several options exist, including
  • (i) that the project be implemented either in English with translations into at least French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian;
  • (ii) that it be implemented in a different language on a rotating basis or
  • (iii) that each one of the modules be in a different language.
  • In the pilot stage, the curriculum, the resource persons (based on a roster of experts), and the basic technical infrastructure modalities should be chosen. UNESCO-MOST could in particular use the worldwide network of UNESCO national committees, partners, universities and institutions to extend the reach of its programme.

    The implementation stage would entail a series of strategic decisions by UNESCO-MOST, including
  • (i) the selection of the curriculum (according to UNESCO-MOST mandate and objectives);
  • (ii) the choice of the structure of the programme (number of courses, number of modules for each course, duration, coverage, language, target groups);
  • (iii) the establishment of institutional co-operation arrangements with partner organizations and UNESCO national committees.

  • In any event, the establishment of such a programme would require a minimum commitment of two (for the pilot phase) to four years (for the fullimplementation) by UNESCO-MOST and substantial human and financial resources: two to four fulltime staff members, including a thematic expert on democratic governance e-learning and an IT specialist.

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