International Democracy Day: no democracy without holistic and inclusive education


The unprecedented consequences deriving from the COVID-19 pandemic impact heavily on everybody’s working and social life. It has become clear that this health crisis has deepened existing inequalities and increased the risk of exclusion of vulnerable groups while posing manifold challenges to organising democratic processes in the context of social distancing. In some countries, the very adherence to democratic values and their implementation are under attack. This year the International Day of Democracy celebrated on the 15 September, puts democracy during the pandemic crisis in the spotlight recalling the urgency to adopt a responsive approach to COVID-19 without degrading the respect of human rights and the rule of law.  

ETUCE celebrates the International Day of Democracy by calling European governments to protect and promote such common values as tolerance, non-discrimination, equality, solidarity, and respect for human dignity and diversity, while addressing socio-economic inequalities, in particular, access to education, poverty, unemployment, social exclusion, and a growing individualistic focus at the expense of a common and collective approach. The last week tragedy in Greece where fire completely destroyed an over-crowded refugee reception centre Moria leaving 12 000 migrants to sleep in the fields, has shown once again that Europe urgently needs to unite for humanity and solidarity as the main basis of democracy.

ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken underlines: “In these difficult times, people need to be able to rely on democratic values and structures that unite and support them. It is crucial for everybody to be and feel included. Citizen’s voice must be heard and respected. Quality inclusive education with a holistic perspective based on an attractive teaching profession and democratic governance, is one of the keys to Europe overcoming the crisis and heading to a more sustainable future”. 

In its recent Statement on the European Democracy Action Plan, ETUCE highlights the crucial role of education in preparing critically thinking and active citizens, as well as in providing a sense of belonging and opportunities for active participation for all despite of their background. However, achieving these goals requires not only clear guidelines and frameworks on democratic citizenship education, but also sustainable public funding, prepared, supported and well-equipped teachers, and a strong social dialogue with education trade unions at European, national and institutional level.

On the International Day of Democracy, the European Parliament together with governments and non-governmental organisations organises three days of workshop and events to analyse the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on democracy.