Recent Train the Trainer workshops held by “Streetlaw South Africa” with law students at universities in the Eastern Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal used the new handbook “Democracy for All”. It had just been completed in the project, with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation as well. Students participated very actively in the workshops which had been designed to prepare them for community outreach work – to facilitate educational events with groups themselves in the future.
The new manual applied in the training contains rich material on topics such as democratic principles and the work of government, the South African Constitution, human rights, abuse of power, elections and citizen participation. The handbook was compiled in an interdisciplinary collaboration of experts, artists and practitioners, with the participation of students and other community members. “Democracy for All” consists of sections for educators and learners, and it includes numerous creative, practical exercises for individual and group work, stimulating individual research and reflection, role plays and debates. Diverse examples are drawn from current reality in South Africa; they ensure relevance to the users and facilitate motivated participation.
The previous, first edition of the handbook “Democracy for All” had been used widely for many years in South Africa and about 30 other countries. The new edition that was now developed will be published as an e-book in an open access format, and it refers to the free online Civics Academy learning platform as well (www.civicsacademy.co.za). The handbook will be freely available online to anyone conducting democracy education. A link to the online materials will be provided to the Department of Basic Education for distribution to its managers and experts responsible for democracy education in South Africa. The manuals are also made available to educators and schools to supplement teaching resources for use in Life Orientation and Human and Social Sciences classes.
During the recent workshops, the students truly enjoyed the intense, interactive engagements which they described as hugely valuable. Participants praised the concept and the facilitators and emphasized that it was a great experience to have a voice, to listen and to be heard in genuine dialogues. They described how much knowledge and skills they had gained in terms of the content and practical methodology for workshops, giving specific examples in their feedback.
The students will in future themselves conduct workshops in schools and communities, facilitating democracy education, awareness of the legal framework and how to access the judiciary, as well as active citizenship.