The State of Democracy and Human Rights Education (2021)

The objective of The State of Democracy and Human Rights Education -project is to survey and disseminate awareness about democracy and human rights education. The project aims to survey good practices in democracy and human rights education in daycare centres, schools and other academic institutions. The objective of the project is to strengthen democracy and human rights education by implementing and following good practices.

 The project will produce a database of good practices in democracy and human rights education, highlighting projects and good practices from the past five years. These highlights aim to provide a comprehensive image of the state and the development needs of democracy and human rights education in Finland. In addition, the project aims to disseminate information about good practices in multiple languages via newsletters and social media.

Towards an overall picture of Democracy and Human Rights Education

The objective of the project is to outline what is working well in democracy and human rights education and, on the other hand, to find out what is missing. The need for development may be related, for example, to activities offered to people of different ages, partnerships, or the opportunity for children and young people to participate in organizing activities.

Project coordinator, senior researcher Anu Gretschel from the Finnish Youth Research Network considers the topic relevant. 

– Democracy is challenged and enabled by a number of things. Many social phenomena such as climate change are a result of a global state which currently lacks democratic structure. Technology simultaneously enables and complicates participation. The amount of information is vast but not everything is correct. The growth of social inequality is an additional challenge to democracy. Society complicates matters in many ways. I doubt we even know what kind of knowledge and understanding is needed for democratic influencing in the future. As she reflects upon why such a project is necessary, Gretschel advises that society and the younger generations need better conditions for understanding democracy and human rights.

First assembled, then utilized

The assembling of projects related to democracy education and human rights education has started, and is expected to be nearly completed by the end of May. Methods used in the process are surveys, light interviews, and phone calls. The compiled projects and good practices will be documented in an information register for projects and contact persons.

Furthermore, the best examples will be published as a comprehensive project database. 

– Transparency is an important value: the contact person for a project can verify the information found in the database in advance. Additionally, it is important that the implemented practices have also been evaluated, in order to know whether the activities have been considered successful by children and young people as well, Gretschel points out.

The main focus of the communication and education campaign will be addressed during the second half of the year 2021. The main objective at this point is to disseminate and develop good practices related to democracy and human rights education. Networks for youth work, democracy education and human rights education are important. 

– We are also interested in stimulating discussion around the topic of democracy and human rights education. The availability of a compilation and researched knowledge of best practices will make it easier for young people, educators, young professionals and those interested in the subject to discuss what works in democracy education, human rights education and wider society, and what should be developed, says Gretschel.

Cooperation guarantees diverse expertise

The project is carried out by the Youth Research Network. The co-implementers are the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi and Koordinaatti, Centre of Expertise in Youth work, which operates as part of the City of Oulu's educational and cultural services.

The project also has a language team, which consists of employees familiar with the topics of democracy education and human rights education. The members of the language team are proficient in sign language, Swedish and Northern Sámi. The project has been commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and is based on the Government Programme and the National Democracy Programme, among others.

 For the collection of data in the project, an adequate Privacy Policy has been prepared. The progress of the project can be followed on project page in Finnish of the Youth Research Network, where the Finnish, Swedish, Northern Sámi, and Sign Language language versions will also be available.


Anu Gretschel

Anu Gretschel

Senior Researcher


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Researcher profile