It is not necessary to elaborate in specific the needs of the Montenegrin society for democracy in the real sense of that word, nor consequently the needs for the study of the skills for its acknowledgement and implementation. Centre for Civic Education (CCE) believes that only in democratic way deep and severe divisions and problems that are exhausting our society for long time already can be overcome, as well as facing with the challenges of the future can be conducted. In addition, democratic political culture, even though everybody speaks about democracy a lot in last several years, is at a very low level. In order to help the change of this situation the idea to start Democracy School has been born within the CCE.
Democracy School is dedicated to understanding of the idea of democracy and the manner of implementation of that idea. Within the School theoretical knowledge is being examined, as well as comparative practice and the skills and manner of implementation of democratic concepts in everyday life, and in particular in the political sphere. Its overall objective is raising the general level of the democratic political culture in Montenegro through:
- establishing of the core of the organised, methodologically and theoretically based educational activity, which would enable at least part of the citizens of Montenegro to gain the needed knowledge on:
- the idea of democracy, what it means, and where it comes from, which are positive and which are negative aspects of democracy,
- what is the democracy framework – as the process of fulfillment of human individual rights and freedoms, as the manner of social life and relations in the society, as the form of the government and ruling, as the institutional system,
- how is democracy (mis)used;
- promoting the principle of the comparative analyses of the concrete experiences of implementation of democracy in Montenegro and other countries in Europe and worldwide;
- developing the ability of the critical approach and tolerant, rational and responsible public communication, or participation in formulating and proposing the measures of the public policy and its implementation.
Programme of the Democracy School is organised through the five months long series of sessions, in the form of lectures, workshops, panel discussions, simulations, conferences, screenings of movies followed with the Q&A on these, etc. Nine modules, which constitute the curriculum framework, deal with the wide spectrum of topics, as follows:
- Democracy – concept, values, principles, types;
- Democracy and the citizen, active citizenship and civic society – the notion of the citizen, citizen vs servant, education for democratic citizenship, the citizen as a subject of democracy, freedom of expression and association, concept of civic society, non-governmental organisations in Montenegro;
- Democracy and conflict, facing with the past – the notion of conflict, sources of conflicts, ways of dealing with conflict and conflict management, case studies, institutional and individual responsibility, models of facts establishing, case study – RECOM;
- Democracy and elections, governance and political parties – election system in Montenegro, institutions, overview of the elections processes in Montenegro, political parties and political power, party (infra)structures and power relations, types of parties, funding of political parties, notion of governance, functioning and oversight in accordance with democratic principles;
- Democracy and verbal communication, public opinion and media – debate, dialogue, negotiations, public opinion researches and its interpretation, tendencies in Montenegro, importance of media for development of democratic society;
- Democracy and economy – the relationship between democracy and economics, economic laws;
- Democracy and human rights – the concept of human and minority rights, human rights generations, contemporary trends, case studies, the judicial system in Montenegro, the European Court of Human Rights and the case law of the ECtHR, gender equality, the concept of gender and sex, legal framework, political participation of women, overview of the situation in Montenegro;
- Democracy and European integration – influence of the process of European integration on the democratisation of the society, negotiation structure in Montenegro, European standards and changes in front of the Montenegrin society;
- Democracy and globalisation – concept of globalisation, what is globalisation bringing to us and what it is taking away, anti-globalistic movements, the impact of the globalisation on development of democracy.
During the work of each one of the generation, the programme varies in the sense that the most actual topics or those which are of the specific interest of the participants are tackled in wider spectrum. At the end of the work, the assessment of the gained knowledge is done via test or production of an essay on defined topic.
Moderator of the School is professor Radovan Radonjic, PhD.
In 2013, Democracy School marked ten years of its work, representing at the same time also the oldest, still active, systematic alternative education programme in this field in Montenegro. It has also been used as model which is further, in various forms and with various duration, developed by the number of non-governmental organisations in Montenegro and in the region.
Concluding with recently finalised work of the twenty-fifth generation, the School has been successfully completed by 711 citizens of Montenegro, mainly activists of non-governmental organizations, political parties, journalists, officials of the local self authorities and state administration, students and other individuals who have shown interest in connecting their activism with the public scene and thus giving personal contribution to the development of democracy in Montenegro (even though at the period of participation in the School they did not necessarily belong to any of the above listed structures). Nowadays, many of them are at the positions of the decision makers within their chosen professional ways.
Within Democracy School over 50 lecturers shared their knowledge and skills with the participants. These have been recommended by their academic references, if they come from the universities in the country or from abroad, as well as their engagements in non-governmental organizations, political parties, public opinion polls agencies, advertising agencies, media, trade unions, Parliament, Government, international organisations, courts, but also certain independent positions of the experts in the fields covered by the curriculum of the School.
The work of the School is accompanied by the publishing activities. So far, three editions of the book «Democracy» by professor Radovan Radonjić have been published, then «21 story on democracy» by group of authors and «Political doctrine» by professor Radovan Radonjić.
Democracy School has been supported from its foundation by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.