Education on Democracy

Right in the acknowledgment part of the book, Dev Raj Dahal has said that people are not born democratic, they need to be educated and trained on the principles, ideals and values of democracy. It is the education, training and debate on democratic principles, values and institutions that make people avid democrats. The education, training not only raise the level of awareness and build opinion and values of democracy but also help create develop democratic culture and conduct in individuals and society. Believing in democracy and practicing democracy are two different things that hardly match in many of the people especially in the Third World countries.

Many people talk more about democracy but miserably fail when it comes to translating the ideals and principles of democracy. There are only few people who profess and practice democracy simultaneously. It is because the democratic education is not adequate. It is more so in new democracies including Nepal, where meaning of democracy is different to different people. Many take it as a means to grab power. There are many instances in the world where once established democracies, after a hard and long struggle, have suffered setbacks. History is witness that some most popular democratic leaders have either failed or turned to be neo-dictators in some countries in the world. This is because the understanding about democracy is flawed.

Against this background, the conclusion that can be drawn is that the education and training on democracy is more important than fighting for democracy. The fight and trek to democracy is definitely difficult. But more difficult is to sustain this system. For this, leaders must be democratic both in words and action. Similarly, the political cadres and general mass also need to be educated properly to develop democratic behavior and culture.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has been working in the area of democratic education and training in Nepal. Recently, this organization has brought out a handbook called Handouts on Democracy. This small booklet has provided a lot of practical knowledge on what democracy is and what is not.

Much of the content and components in the books mainly consist of the ideas and opinions of Professor Thomas Meyer who is a well-known German political scientist. Professor Meyer has written and spoken a lot on democracy and its various tenets. Professor Meyer is, of course, a treasure of knowledge on the contemporary global political trend and democracy. The book has mentioned some of the important aspects of democracy in brief and in a simplified manner. The way professor Meyer's views on democracy have been put in the book is in itself a praiseworthy work. The book has given basic but clear ideas about fundamental issues of democracy and helped the readers learn about what democracy is.

Democracy is not merely a political system. It is a way of life and culture. Genuine democracy contains so many fundamental aspects and in the absence of even a single component, democracy is imperfect. This book thus deals with these fundamental principles and components of democracy. Thus, it is very useful for those who want to know about democracy. Most importantly, this book must be read by the politicians themselves. If they read it thoroughly, it will not only give them opportunity to learn about principles of democracy but also may persuade them to practice what they profess.

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