It is increasingly difficult to foster democratic engagement in Hungary due to the dismantling of democracy, the stigmatization of activism, and the misinformation in the shrinking Hungarian media. Impoverished, highly segregated regions are especially affected. This project will replicate the model of the Budapest-based School of Public Life in Miskolc, a regional capital in Northeast Hungary, and establish a citizenship education center that fosters civic engagement and supports a resilient and progressive ecosystem for civil society organizations (CSOs).
The School of Public Life
Since 2014, the School of Public Life has been strengthening democracy and improving the culture of citizen participation in Hungary. This project aims to make an impact through a citizenship education program. The program aims to improve the citizenship skills of individuals with a special focus on disadvantaged groups as well as the advocacy potential of social movements and CSOs. In Hungary, civic activities are often concentrated in the capital. Due to the lack of resources in the countryside, we want to establish a civic center in Miskolc.
Miskolc’s Adapted Model
The School of Public Life model, adapted for Miskolc, consists of hosting free trainings, experience exchanges, and other pedagogical events among diverse groups of people who experience exclusion and/or organize for social change.
The main topics include understanding:
- Systemic social inequalities,
- community building,
- And community organizing.
A unique methodology is used and based on critical pedagogy, which emphasizes participants’ knowledge and mutual learning. Through the educational activities, participants gain the individual skills and collective capacities that empower them to effectively voice their interests. In the long run, the aim is for grassroots organizations and communities to become stronger and more resilient and to ensure that their work is sustainable.
“I believe that democracy is not a noun but a verb, and a strong democracy works only if people exercise their rights, stand for their interests, and organize for a just and equal society.”
Landecker Democracy Fellow Ági will organize personal meetings with local stakeholders, host community events and trainings in Miskolc focusing on social inequalities, community building, and advocacy. Local activists and community leaders will also be involved in the train-the-trainer program. Each event serves as a meeting point for people of diverse backgrounds who are engaged in civic initiatives and are committed to working for social change.
This democratic and inclusive space created in the trainings aims to inspire participants and foster future cooperation, which will challenge the divisive logic of the current political and social climate. For this project’s focus on Miskolc, there is a critical need for building resilient communities committed to social justice and strengthening social cohesion in this disadvantaged and highly segregated regional center.
Updated December 2021.