Global Learning Programme


Democracy, participation and governance

Winston Churchill said ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been Show of hands – simple democracy in action!tried from time to time.’

Democracy is not an idea that is often criticised in the West – in fact it is generally seen as an ideal, and promoting and protecting democracy is often cited as a reason to go to war. But democracy is not universally accepted as the best way for countries to operate. Indeed, democracy can only work effectively if it exists alongside individual freedom and human rights.

A way into this tricky topic can be through the pupils’ own experiences. For example, are pupils involved in decisions made at their school? Are they always happy with the outcome?

Recommended reading

The following links and articles provide useful background information to help you teach about democracy, participation and governance and their relevance to development: 

Guardian: Governance and Transparency Collections of articles on the Guardian global development website 

Guardian Teach Network: Democracy starts at school Blog post advocating political philosophy across the curriculum 

Oxfam – From Poverty to Power Blog: Guest Blog ‘The Growing Anger of the Merely, Barely Middle Class’ An article showing why good governance is important 

Think Global: Stand up and be heard! Blog post about pupil participation in primary schools 

Transparency International: Corruption by topic Anti-corruption organisation which provides brief overviews of where corruption exists and how it can be solved. There is also a Corruption by country map.

Teaching resources

Useful teaching resources about democracy, participation and governance:<

Makutano Junction Secondary resource based on a Kenyan soap opera; includes democracy activity

CND: Under Pressure Secondary resource exploring the work of pressure groups

Think Global: Debate for primary schools Activity kit to help Key Stage 2 pupils explore big questions

Commonwork: From Spectators to Spect-actors Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 guide using forum theatre techniques to change the spectator from a passive to an active participant

See also GLP-badged resources on the Global Dimension website on the topic of Democracy

We welcome suggestions for useful articles and teaching resources on the topic of Democracy, participation and governance. Please email them to