One of the participants on the transitional justice study tour that the FNF hosted from the 6th till the 12th of November in Brussels and Berlin was Zimbabwean human rights lawyer, David Coltart. Coltart, who is also a founding member of the political party ‘Movement for Democratic Change’ (MDC), is well-known for the sterling work he did as Zimbabwe’s Minister for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture from 2009 to August 2013.
Coltart had had the good fortune of visiting Berlin before the study tour and has a real soft spot for the city. He now has what he can call a ritual – on each visit to the German capital, Coltart celebrates the fall of the wall by straddling the cobblestones which mark where it once stood and divided people. Doing this, he says, reminds him that tyrants do fall. This is particularly poignant given the book Coltart published earlier this year: The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe. Living in Zimbabwe, Coltart recounts, one must remind oneself that tyrannies do eventually come to an end.
The study tour, comprising of six strategically selected participants – two from Zimbabwe, two from Tanzania and two from South Africa, started in Brussels with a broad overview of ‘transitional justice’, a field that has been receiving growing attention mainly since the mid-80s and is thus still considered relatively new.
Wikipedia usefully defines the term as follows:
“Transitional justice consists of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented in order to redress legacies of human rights abuses. Such measures “include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs, and various kinds of institutional reforms”. Transitional justice is enacted at a point of political transition from violence and repression to societal stability and it is informed by a society’s desire to rebuild social trust, repair a fractured justice system, and build a democratic system of governance. The core value of transitional justice is the very notion of justice—which does not necessarily mean criminal justice. This notion and the political transformation, such as regime change or transition from conflict are thus linked toward a more peaceful, certain, and democratic future.”
Each country represented has a unique past (or present) of injustice with which it must grapple. The idea behind the study tour was to expose participants to transitional justice measures implemented in dealing with, in particular, Germany’s Third Reich and German Democratic Republic past. The group was also briefed, from a European Union perspective, on the events in the Western Balkans giving rise to the need for very particular transitional justice there. Of course, while each situation is unique, there are many similarities in the types of atrocities committed and so much space for sharing experiences, both around the awful events that unfolded as well as around corresponding transitional justice measures. Ultimately, and very importantly to note, the human experience of suffering is universal.
In Berlin, the tour met with government institutions that deal with the compensation of victims of injustice not only for the loss of property, but for the loss of loved ones (lives lost) as well as for lost freedoms (concentration camps, emprisonment). We also learned about compensation for various consequences injustices have had on the mental and physical health of victims as well as how compensation was and is calculated in addition to such technical intricacies as evidentiary burdens.
Complimentary to the above were our meetings with with organisations involved in what are often termed ‘softer’ (and consequently erroneously underrated) measures such as school curricula and how society more broadly remembers the past (memorials, days of remembrance, public art, museums etc) so that it never repeats itself. Of particular interest was our meeting with the Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and Future which fosters a very bottom-up and personal approach to dealing with the past, emphasising the need to ‘dig where you stand’, i.e. to uncover and reflect upon the stories in one’s own neighbourhood.
All in all, the tour offered profound insights and lessons for the study tour group from a multitude of perspectives (the state, civil society and individuals). Of course, members of the group were also able to share their own experiences with the organisations in Brussels and Berlin and, importantly, with each other.
- – FNF Africa
- – Stiftung EVZ (Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibilty, Future”)
- – Memorial site Hohenschönhausen (former Stasi prison, Berlin)
An interview with the Indian education entrepreneur Ekta Sodha.
”If you don’t come back home and help us with the school, soon there will be no legacy you will inherit from us“.
This call from her mother asking for help was Ekta Sodha’s kickoff in her entrepreneurial career. The two schools established and managed by her parents for 24 years were about to go bankrupt. After ending her postgraduate studies in International Leadership and Management at Newcastle University, Ekta decided to leave her career plans and also England behind. She flew back to India’s western coast, and joined the small family business in Jamnagar.
After deeply analyzing the problems of her parents’ school, she managed not only to upgrade the classrooms, but also the curricula and the teaching staff.
“I knew I needed a clear vision, leadership, and a good opportunity management if I wanted to achieve my goal – and of course, a committed teaching staff with the right stamina”.
Today –four years later– she manages six schools in the federal state of Gujarat with over 5,000 male and female pupils.
DIGITAL LEARNING, one of Asia’s leading education magazines, places her schools among the top five educational offers in Gujarat, a region with 60 million inhabitants: High educational quality at low prices. Her success has spread out very quickly. As Vice-President of the National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), an association of more than 39,000 private schools in India, she now shares her vision concerning the best education for children from disfavored families. Her passion drives her to continuously look for new paths. Nowadays she is enrolled in a Ph.D. program with Professor Sugata Mitra regarding educational technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences of Newcastle University, and researching ways to offer technological support to children striving for knowledge and education.
$6-10 for a good school education
The cost for a school place at Sodha’s schools varies from six US dollars at preschool up to ten US dollars per month at secondary or high school level. This includes both learning material and school meal – and, yes, after the deduction of expenses for the school’s own teacher training and equipment with computers (tablets), she still manages to make profits.
Watch the full interview:
Exposure Program to Germany
An increasing number of people, devices, and sensors are nowadays connected by digital networks which have revolutionized the ability to generate, share, and access information. Data create enormous value for the global economy, driving innovation and growth. At the same time the ever growing amount of data presents a formidable challenge to the privacy of citizens.
In order to better understand the potential of big data for both citizens and organizations while addressing the challenges to individual privacy the Regional Office of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) organized a study tour to Germany. Digital rights activists, researchers and representatives of business associations from Pakistan, India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh spent one week in Hamburg and Berlin speaking to data protection agencies, think tanks, data scientists and information and communication technology (ICT) companies.
During official appointments participants discussed latest technological developments, how a modern data protection framework should look like, and which ideas could be translated into initiatives in South Asia. The recent European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation which for the first time creates pan-european standards for data protection and a level playing field for companies targeting European citizens made the participants particularly interested.
“The different perspectives presented during the study tour were eye opening and I strongly believe some ideas can be implemented in South Asia to combine openness for innovation and safeguards for individual privacy” said Ruben Dieckhoff, Project Manager South Asia who organized the tour together with FNF’s International Academy for Leadership (IAF).
How to Negotiate, Manage and Consolidate Coalitions – Programme for Political Partners from West Africa
Not long ago, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom welcomed a West African delegation from Senegal and Cote d`lvoire who wanted to be informed about how coalitions are negotiated, managed and consolidated in North Rhine-Westphalia. The programme aimed at giving the delegation members, who mostly had already attended a coalition training seminar in Dakar, some insight into the German political landscape and to exchange their views regarding the factors for stable coalitions with experienced liberal politicians.
The program started in Brussels a few days earlier, where the group met several representatives, who have been dealing with that subject at the European level. >> Read more about it here.
In Germany the group had its first meeting in the town hall of Leverkusen. Monika Ballin-Meyer-Ahrens, chairwoman of the Leverkusen FDP-council group, took her time to show the delegation the council’s meeting room. She then shared her experience with multi-party coalitions at the local level, using the example of the so-called Jamaica Coalition.
The German political system and coalition-building in Germany were the main subject of the workshop with Roland Werner, former Deputy Minister and State Secretary in the Saxon State Ministry. Topics of the workshop included human factors in coalition negotiations, different conditions in the new and old German states, channels of communication and the position of the FDP.
A special highlight was the visit to the regional parliament in Düsseldorf. Being guests at the plenary meeting, the participants had the opportunity to listen to the national chairman and regional chairman of the FDP in NRW, Christian Lindner addressing the low economic growth in North Rhine-Westphalia. His speech was followed by a heated debate about the root causes, as NRW currently ranks lowest among the German states. Angela Freimuth, vice chairman of the FDP’s parliamentary group in the regional parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia shared her experience in working in a government coalition with the delegation. A tour of the parliamentary building rounded off the visit.
At the Theodor Heuss Academy in Gummersbach the delegation had the opportunity to discuss the subject of future coalition-building with Jan-Frederik Kremer, Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. In 2015 the Selfkant-opposition consisting of SPD, Pro Selfkant, FDP and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen had appointed Mr. Jan-Frederik Kremer as their joint candidate for the mayoral election in Selfkant. That coalition process was discussed lively.
The questions of liberalism at the international level, the history of Germany and why another political landscape has established in Germany were in the focus of the workshop with Wulf Pabst, seminar leader of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
On the last day the delegation visited Ralph Sterck, leader of the FDP group in the Cologne Council. Being a long-time liberal politician, he was able to talk about many coalition-building processes of the FDP in Cologne. The delegation was particularly interested in the alliance formed between the CDU and the Greens to support the election of the current mayor Ms. Henriette Reker. When taking a look at the campaign publications, the participants got an idea of the different interests, needs and sensitivities of the allies. The alliance is still working successfully. Finally Mr. Sterck showed the delegation the town hall and the council’s meeting room.
The delegation had the opportunity to exchange views on the various types of coalitions with liberal politicians of the regional and municipal level. The fact that the meeting partners had different backgrounds was very helpful for the Delegation’s understanding of the federal system of Germany and to take home many new ideas.
“With the death of Dr. Guido Westerwelle, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom lost a faithful friend, an important partner and a long-time companion, who personally and professionally promoted freedom over many years and with all his strength and who left us far too early.”, stated Prof. Dr. Jürgen Morlok, Chairman of the board of trustees of the Foundation.
The Chairman of the Board of the Foundation, Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt, expressed “Guido Westerwelle has done a great service for liberal politics. His own particular way of doing politics, which promoted a policy of freedom and always expressed quiet clearly what he meant, inspired and motivated many people.”
Guido Westerwelle contributed greatly to the development of political liberalism in Germany. At an early age as Federal Chairman of the Young Liberals his political potential was distinctly recognizable. His political, strategic and rhetorical talent was exceptional. His meteoric ascent within the FDP and his excellent work as the FDP’s Secretary General and Federal Chairman, even in difficult times, guided the FDP in the right direction to stay visible even against the background of a changing media environment. During his time as Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in the tradition of liberal Foreign Ministers Walter Scheel, Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Klaus Kinkel, he pursued a foreign and peace policy that was characterized by high humanitarian ideals, focused on human rights and international understanding and one that was positive for our country.
“As a former scholarship holder and as a friendly advisor, Guido Westerwelle retained close connections to the Foundation since the 1980s and vice versa.”, said Gerhardt and Morlok. “We came a long way together. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom mourns the loss of the human being Guido Westerwelle, who often remained hidden behind the politician. We lost an exceptional partner, who we will miss. Our sympathy goes out to his husband, his family and his friends. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom for Freedom will honor Guido Westerwelle’s memory.”
Title picture © Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit
There is rise in terrorism across the world, especially the Islamic State, which have taken over large tracts of territory in Syria and Iraq. This has led to the refugee crisis – millions of people seeking refuge in European countries including Germany, the venue of the seminar. The future of the Eurozone is in jeopardy. The European Union is grappling with one crisis after another. As a reactionary force, there appears to be a rise in right-wing forces in Europe, in countries such as Poland and Hungary, and elsewhere too; the fear being that long-cherished Democratic rights of the people could be a casualty. There are various other developments all across the world which are threatening the very survival of the little man, the little voter, the little citizen – with a free voice.
And against this tumultuous backdrop, a group of young lawyers, politicians and activists from 23 countries descended at Gummersbach for the IAF Seminar on Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights: the Liberal Approach. It was like getting a bird’s eye view of world affairs and then testing the times against the concepts of Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights.
We tend to become too practical and concentrate on actions without pausing to think about and clarify our understanding of concepts which ought to be the driving force behind our actions. What our very skilful moderators and the group discussions did was to clarify my own concept of what Rule of Law means. We learnt the various concepts of Rule of Law, from the thinnest (Rule by Law) to the thickest (Social Democratic Rule of Law or the fattest, as our liberal moderator preferred to call it), Rule by Law having hardly any safeguards and Social Democratic Rule of Law being a point where the State itself assumes the role of the Father, mother, guardian and regulator. The liberal approach is to prefer a liberal Rule of Law where the State is neither too intrusive, nor too withered away. The citizens are allowed to breathe and grow – the State only creating the fertile ground. I seemed to agree to the approach to a great extent.
The work group requiring us to explain the Rule of law and fundamental rights situation in our own countries enabled me look at India, my country, with an objectivity which I hitherto lacked. I returned as a citizen of my country and much in love with it, yet with the awareness of its deficiencies.
The discussions on fundamental rights and the three generations of Human rights was the one I greatly enjoyed. We poured all our ideas on to the floor and with the help of efficient marshalling of discussions by the mdoerators, we educated ourselves about democracy and democracies and rights and their extents and the general world situation of rights. What I learnt was that the liberals vouch for the first generation rights first and later move on to the second and third generation rights. I disagreed with Dr Rolf, our moderator and said that in my opinion, the first and second generation rights should go hand and hand. What the discussion culminated into is not important – but I took away from the debate a far enhanced understanding of the essentials of democratic thought and endeavour and I am much grateful to our erudite moderators. (Doctor and I have promised to continue our debate by email). To aid our understanding we were introduced to the Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, both of which will be of great help to me in future.
The underlying issue which overshadowed the seminar was the refugee crisis. Important questions about the right to freedom of movement (how free and unrestricted is it) were raised and we deliberated on them. Coming from a country having its own share of migrant and refugee problems, I was able to share my inputs. How far should refugees be allowed unrestricted access to countries like Germany? How far will they be able to blend with german culture? What could be the repercussions if they couldn’t. What security risks could be posed by refugees (with reference to the recent Paris Terror Attacks). We analysed threadbare, the problems – and possible solutions – rationing of refugees, establishing camps in their own countries run by the more developed countries. We also considered the legal aspects, which have helped sharpen my own understanding of refugee and migrant issues, being a lawyer engaged in refugee related work in India.
For 12 days, we were like family. It seemed barriers between cultures, religions, territories had all melted and the fact that we were all human beings possessing the same characteristics of humanity took precedence.
The excursions to Cologne and Strasbourg only increased the bonhomie and also gave us a chance to explore new places, meet new people and witness cultures first hand. We also made an interesting visit to the International Institute of Human Rights where we also became aware of the obstacles language could pose when working in the field of human rights. There can be no Rule of Law and fundamental rights without people. The food and lodging were excellent to say the least. Apart from the seminar proceedings, we had freewheeling yet engaging discussions at the bar and while travelling, sharing experiences from our respective countries. In the modern world, learning is exchanging.
The best aspects about this seminar were its emphasis on practical realisation of all that we were discussing and secondly, the freedom of expression it gave us. The world is becoming intolerant towards diversity and conflict thought yet here we were given an absolutely free forum where we could simply explain and express ourselves in the manner we liked.
Finally, we were asked to prepare project proposals to enhance Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights. We presented our proposals. The moderators were very appreciative.
I went to Gummersbach as a citizen of India and returned as a conscious and vigilant citizen of the world. My outlook has been broadened, the knowledge has deepened, and seeds of truly liberal thought have been planted in my being. I only expect it to grow and guide me in my actions and endeavours towards making the world a better place for ourselves and others.
I am grateful, IAF.
by Deepan Kumar Sarkar
Some impressions from our excursion to Strasbourg and Karlsruhe
A delegation consisting of seven representatives from the Tunisian liberal party “Afek Tounis” recently came to Germany to participate in a study trip on “New perspectives for Tunisia – EU/Germany relations”. The aim was to discuss the international relations with Tunisia with German experts in order to establish new contacts and networks for future cooperation.
The program covered several visits to institutions and think-tanks in Brussels and Berlin. At the German Federal Foreign Office the group met with Barbara Wolf, director of the Maghreb-division, to discuss the current state and future of German foreign policy towards Tunisia. Among the focal points in the debate were initiatives like the partnership for transformation and Germany’s diplomatic reactions to the revolution. This topic drew lots of questions from members of the delegation who were questioning Germany’s foreign policy strategy in comparison to the U.S. or Great Britain.
At the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development the delegation had the chance to exchange information and experiences with Christiane Bögemann-Hagedorn, Deputy Director General for North Africa, Middle East, South Eastern and Eastern Europe and Latin America. Dr. Martin Henkelmann, director of the German Chamber of Commerce abroad in Tunisia and his colleague, Philipp Simon Andree, head of division for North Africa at the Federation of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), analyzed the pitfalls and potentials for ever closer economic relations between Germany and Tunisia during a working lunch. The topic was continued during a discussion with the experts Alexander Knipperts, Patrick Meinhardt and Rainer Ptok from the trade association (Unternehmerverband Deutschland).
German, European and American policy towards Tunisia was intensively examined from a scientific perspective during a meeting with Isabelle Werenfels, director of the study group on the Middle East and Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP).
Ulrich Niemann, head of the international division of Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom and Beate Apelt, director of regional division North Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe, welcomed the group in the FNF-headquarters and gave a presentation on the international work of FNF in North Africa and in the world.
Enlightenment, participation and progress—these three powerful words were not just the title of the workshop on Education at the IAF. They also represented what the participants felt were the key objectives of education in the 21st century. And in light of increasing intolerance and radicalization, they added a fourth—peace.
Heated arguments, passionate discussions and intensive sharing characterized the event that brought together 18 participants from 15 countries, an event that hoped to find some light at end of the tunnel on a topic that was very much close to their hearts. While 11 of the 15 countries had adult literacy rates of over 90%, the quality left much to be desired. The event didn’t begin in Gummersbach but online almost three weeks before. The online phase enabled participants to connect not just to each other but also with the topic in a deeper way. Participants shared their perspectives on the fundamentals of education, collated relevant country wide data on education, and also offered ideas on how they would address the most critical problems they see in their countries.
Overall the participants were connected by their anger and frustration about the existing state of education in their countries and general mistrust in the state as the only solution—the low and declining standards, lack of quality education universally available to all, low quality teaching, low prestige and lack of interest in supplying vocational training services and the lack of political will to improve education systems. At the same time they were hopeful about innovative civil society solutions (from small budget private schools to publicly listed education providers) and reviving the tradition of civil society provision of education (something that was wiped out with the advent of compulsory education by the state 1)James Bartholomew, Education Without the State: British private and charitable schooling in the 19th century and beyond and James Tooley, RTE & Budget Private Schools-What would Gandhi Think? ). Almost every region showcased inspiring stories of edupreneurship (India, Egypt, Brazil)—individuals who despite the domineering state and the existing conditions were breaking new ground and showing that quality and cost do not always mutually exclude each other.
The WHY AND WHAT of education: purpose of education is primarily self development!
Apart from equipping people for employment in a constantly changing environment dominated by technology and information (the information society), very important functions of education include the ability to learn and think for oneself, to develop one’s powers of reason, to be able to interact with other members of society peacefully and productively, to be able to resolve conflicts using peaceful means, to participate in democracy and public decision-making processes, to share knowledge and work cooperatively in groups. So education serves to meet ALL three objectives—social, political and economic. Seen together, these transcend the classroom and education can thus be seen as part of a life-long learning process with equal importance attached both to early childhood education and adult education. Therefore, the objectives of education are manifold, there cannot be a single definition of “quality” or the “best school or university”.
In order to be successful education must also be a pleasurable experience. More attention needs to be given to incentives not only for learners but for all stakeholders. The focus of all educational institutions should be to encourage independent thought, innovation and excellence.
Liberal Values: The Foundation of a Good Education System
Participants agreed that education plays a very important role in liberal thought and that all values that are important for liberalism have implications for education. For instance, tolerance often needs to be taught. When you talk about choice you cannot exclude education (Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “…Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”). There is no one “best school” for all. Subsidiarity as a liberal value implies a decentralized system of education. Reason demands that pupils and student develop their ability to think critically. The idea that every one is equal under the law implies that access to (quality) education must be open to all.
The desire for the respect for individual rights also raised some questions. Can the parents’ judgment about their children’s education always be trusted? Must the state make choices instead, choices for the purported good of children? What if parents send children to schools that are academically poor, but offer other important things like safety, community spirit? And what if parents don’t want to send their children to school and teach them privately instead? Such questions suggest a paternalistic approach liberals do not share. Choice for liberals is an important end in itself even though it may not always lead to the “desirable outcomes” social engineers would like to see. The liberal approach is “to let many flowers bloom.”
The HOW of an Effective and Efficient Education System
The education system of the 21st century must satisfactorily tap into the number of opportunities for education, opportunities that technological and economic progress bring forth in terms of greater demand for skills, greater financial resources for investment, the emergence of edupreneursip, greater access to content, specialization, and an increase of diversity in the classroom. At the same time there are worrying threats to education today that need to be addressed: increasing costs, declining standards, extremism, radicalization, technology overload.
No matter how much one believes in the role of the state in education, private schools and universities are a reality and also reflect parents making conscious choices towards accessing quality education for their children. Teachers of tomorrow, in responding to such challenges, will have to play a greater role as facilitators, coaches, mediators and mentors.
Though there was universal agreement on the objectives of education, it was in the HOW that differences lay: How much of a role should the state and civil society play in critical functions of education? There are radical approaches, e.g. privatization and decentralization of the education system and moderate approaches that are incremental in nature, e.g. how to increase competition in the interests of increasing quality. This is something that was emphasized by Sascha Tamm, an expert working for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). There was an overwhelming agreement that the state has an umbrella role in policy making, financing and regulation and that civil society, on the other hand, must play a leading role in the delivery, curriculum 2)An example of government indoctrination of children from Argentina highlighting the danger of government’s role in curriculum design and assessment. Overall the state and civil society need to work together and cooperate in using each other’s experiences and know how, even in matters such as teacher training.
There was agreement that the principle of subsidiarity must apply to education. There are many examples showing that successful schools are schools that cater to local needs. This is also the case of Germany where school facilities are provided by the municipalities and the legal framework, curricula, and teachers are provided by the individual state governments. The federal government plays a very minor role.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||James Bartholomew, Education Without the State: British private and charitable schooling in the 19th century and beyond and James Tooley, RTE & Budget Private Schools-What would Gandhi Think?|
|2.||↑||An example of government indoctrination of children from Argentina highlighting the danger of government’s role in curriculum design|
In our current IAF seminar on Education Policies we also distributed a variety of publications on various topics on education. Please feel free to download them here as pdf versions as well:
- ➤ An Overview of Parental Choice in Education in the United States (2006, Jennifer Marshall)
- ➤ Could the Globalisation of Education Benefit the Poor? (2004, James Tooley)
- ➤ Early Childhood Education in Finland (2008, Liisa Heinämäki)
- ➤ Europe and Education (2006, Ulrich van Lith)
- ➤ Liberal Readings on Education (2008, Stefan Melnik and Sascha Tamm)
- ➤ The Impact of Decentralized Knowledge on Education (2006, Peter A. Henning)
- ➤ The State versus the Poor (2006, David C. Berliner)
Berlin, Cologne, Aachen amd Düren – these were the stations of the visiting program titled “Transparent, accountable urban governance and administrative systems”. The aim of the one-week program was to showcase how health, transport and finances are handled on the municipal level in the Federal Republic of Germany. “Respect for the rule of law is a main reason why German municipalities succeed in spite of financial deficits”, said Anjali Srivastava, Program Officer at Praja Foundation from Mumbai. She, together with her fellow travelers, enjoyed the meetings with German officials and experts and also the sightseeing like here at the historic Cathedral of Cologne.
More information on our work in Southasia: