Designing And Developing Democracy School

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The idea of KID to set up “Democracy School” is based on the consideration that there are various ways to push for democracy in order that there will be more processes that enable and enhance wider political participation of people. These processes can be epitomized in political science key-words such as political recruitment, articulation of political interest and political aspiration, as well as aggregation of various kinds of political interest so as to attract a wider political support. Political communication is supposed to make the aggregated interest acceptable to people who supposedly see in it a representation of their own interest as that of the beneficiaries of democracy.

General election is usually perceived as a locus classicus for political recruitment, whereby the 2004 general election in Indonesia has become solid evidence that such recruitment can be carried out successfully and directly by the people. Seen from that perspective, Indonesia can be treated now as one of the most populous democratic countries in the world after India and USA. However, if we take other criteria of democratization into account such as articulation of political interest, aggregation of political interests and political communication, there are still a number of things to do owing to fundamental and actual constraints.

The articulation of political interest in Indonesia can be put to test if one looks at the political behavior of the members of parliament and if one tries to raise the question as to whether they behave as the representatives of the people who have been recruited through their political parties or whether they still perceive themselves as the speakers of their own parties, which provide them with an access to the parliament by means of utilizing the people’s votes. Besides that, the situation is still very far from that which is expected if one looks at the average qualifications of the members of the house at both the provincial and local levels. A recent survey conducted by the Indonesian Institute for Sciences (LIPI) found out that the requirement for the members of the house to have completed senior high school seems to be unfeasible if one looks at the average educational qualification of the candidates for the legislature.

Democracy is indeed a form of political struggle but from an educational point of view it is also a form of socio-political interaction and communication between citizens and institutions. It becomes a form of struggle in political education in particular and a task of national education in general. The 1998 Nobel prize winner, Amartya Sen, propounds that democracy is definitely the most important invention of the 20th century, because it becomes a philosophy which teaches and stands for human dignity and human freedom as the ultimate goal of our living together, while providing us with instruments to defend that freedom by means of giving incentives to democratic behavior and disincentives to non-democratic or anti-democratic tendencies. There is no state in the world today which does not proclaim itself as democratic, and if it chooses to be anti-democratic it is obliged to explain why. In that sense, democracy becomes important because it guarantees the normative necessity of human freedom and human dignity and at the same time becomes an effective operational means to secure and to defend human freedom and human dignity. As an independent institution KID gives special attention to the enhancement of democracy owing to the actual-empirical reason that the average qualification of the people’s representatives is still far from that which is expected, and because of the fundamental reason that the general appreciation and commitment to human freedom and dignity will develop if these are underpinned by a political praxis which is backed up by political education with a clear direction and goal and a suitable methodology serving that goal. In order to have education and training for democracy come to fruition KID proceeds from three main basic concepts of democracy.

First, democracy is understood as universal values which are worth defending and struggling for regardless of who we are and where we live. Those values are freedom, justice, equality before the law and the right to self-determination. Second, democracy is perceived as instruments for the transfer of knowledge and understanding of its content, the internalization of its values, practical realization of democracy in administration, management and financial matters, as well as the evaluation and measurement of its workings. Third, democracy is understood as contextual realization of the universal values in accord with local cultural values and historical particularities of a community where it is applied. One of the main contexts of its realization is the context of inter-institutional interaction between and among four main social institutions, namely political institutions, practicing politicians, business community and the people in the civil society.

By: Ignas Kleden - International Seminar on “The Role of Political Parties in Democratic Transitions”, Yangon, February 19-20, 2013
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See also the articles in newspapers from Myanmar:
- The Myanmar Times
- Eleven