Winston Churchill said ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been 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?
The following links and articles provide useful background information to help you teach about democracy, participation and governance and their relevance to development:
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.
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
UNICEF: What is participation? Key Stage 3 case studies of children who have acted to change lives for the better
Save the Children: The School Council: A Children’s Guide Key Stage 2 resource (£7.50)
We welcome suggestions for useful articles and teaching resources on the topic of Democracy, participation and governance. Please email them to email@example.com.