On the 2nd of April, ETUCE held a meeting for the EU CONVINCE project, which stands for “EU COmmoN Values INClusive Education”. The project, funded by DG EAC (Education) aims at providing all school actors with tools and methods related to Citizenship.
On this occasion, COFACE-Families Europe was invited to present good practices from its network and from its internal activities related to digital citizenship. After a brief overview of major activities of both its network (addressing cyberbullying, encouraging responsible online behaviour…) and its own European initiatives ( participation in the Council of Europe expert group on Digital Citizenship Education, participation to the DG CNECT Alliance to better protect minors online…), Martin Schmalzried addressed some overarching questions related to digital citizenship and democracy.
The first issue presented was the emergence of decentralized online technologies which allowed to create virtual spaces outside of any possible regulation. This development, directly linked to blockchain technology, puts into perspective the necessity to transmit the core values of our current democratic systems such as freedom of speech, respect of others, a right to participate and influence a commonly managed environment, to the online world. Failure to do so, these new spaces might have to undergo the same painful developments that our own societies have gone through in centuries past, such as autocratic rule, dictatorships, discrimination, etc. Blockchain technology allows for users to agree on the common rules they will all abide by in the decentralized online environment they will be a part of. Agreeing on rules which include the core fundamental values of democracy and human rights is therefore essential.
The second issue presented was that of the growing role that the economic and financial system plays in the democratic process. While many people believe that the sole way to have an impact on the world is through the voting process, much of the “power” has shifted away from politics to the economy and the financial system. Indeed, whenever an individual purchases a good or service, that individual “votes” or sends a “signal to the market” to make more of that good or service. The problem is that growing inequalities mean that the voting power which determines the overall availability of goods and services in our economy has been captured by a few market players: namely banks and the ultra rich. Banks, as the sole private entities which are allowed to create money, can influence the availability of goods/services by deciding who they give credit to. The ultra rich influence that same availability of goods/services by their investment decisions on the stock market and their influence on politics. This is why it is so important to address issues such as social inequalities and distribution of wealth, as it is directly linked to democracy and the right of a people to determine their own fate.
For more information about the EU CONVINCE project, visit the official website here: https://www.csee-etuce.org/en/policy-issues/2433-education-and-democratic-citizenship
Contact Martin Schmalzried for more information on COFACE-Families Europe’s activies on Digital Citizenship: firstname.lastname@example.org