Encouraging Engagement: „jungbewegt – For Engagement and Democracy."

Democracy means: living, thinking, acting in freedom. Only those who are committed to values such as tolerance, solidarity and freedom of opinion accept responsibility for the common good.

"jungbewegt" promotes commitment, participation and democracy education in daycare centers, schools and youth facilities and links political and social learning.

A democratic and civil society is not a given good. It depends on citizens taking responsibility for the common good and participating in the solution of social problems. People who are committed to tolerance, solidarity, equality and peace are decisive for the cohesion of society and for the future of democracy.

Children and young people are not born democrats - they must learn democracy in order to stand up for it, defend it and initiate necessary further developments.

All relevant research indicates that democracy education is successful when young people learn that their voice counts, that they can help shape their environment and that their participation is requested.

Educational institutions – day-care centres, schools and extracurricular venues - have a central responsibility in this regard. They have extensive opportunities to initiate democratic learning processes and are obliged to do so.

Our goals

Promoting social engagement, political participation and democracy building is highly relevant to the efforts of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. The Stiftung calls attention to children and adolescents, because essential values and actions are gains of a young age.

This is why the Bertelsmann Stiftung developed the project "jungbewegt – For Engagement and Democracy” more than ten years ago.

The project advocates that children and adolescents, regardless of their origin, educational background, gender and social situation, can democratically shape society in the present and future.

In order to contribute to this ambitious goal, we have developed a holistic approach by underlining the following guidelines:

  • Together with partners, we promote civil society and democratic action by children and young people throughout their educational biographies and in all phases of childhood and adolescence.
  • For us, the readiness for social commitment and democratic participation are two sides of the coin. People get involved for the common good when they experience that their opinions are considered and that they can influence them.
  • We take the diversity of children and young people into account by making their different circumstances and interests the starting point for our work.
Civic engagement of children and adolescents creates changes for their own living environment and promotes their personal development by strengthening their self-confidence and independent action competence. We adults are responsible for strengthening their opportunities to participate.
Dr. Brigitte Mohn, Member of the Executive Board, Bertelsmann Stiftung

Our basics

"jungbewegt" addresses young people between the ages of 2 and 22 and, in the sense of a cascade approach, relies primarily on cooperation with pedagogues in day-care centres, schools and youth facilities, because the participation of young people begins in the minds of adults.

The fact that they recognize young people as full members of society with corresponding rights and give room to their independent interests is an essential prerequisite for successful democracy education.

In order for educators to promote commitment, participation and democracy education of young people, they need appropriate skills. For this reasons we have developed innovative qualification concepts.

Our central question is the pedagogue´s approaches concerning children, this shapes their work. We support them through our services to highlight their role and to see themselves as developing and learning companions.

The reflection and clarification of the basic pedagogical self-conception is an indispensable prerequisite for being able to transfer the knowledge and methodological approach of the qualification offers of "jungbewegt" into own pedagogical action.

Our procedure

"jungbewegt" was launched as a pilot project in 2009. In cooperation with experts from science and practice as well as in about 120 day-care centres, schools and youth facilities, qualification concepts were developed and tested. The federal states of Berlin, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt as well as important actors in democracy education in Germany such as the Federal Network for Civic Engagement, the Federal Agency for Civic Education, the German Society for Democracy Education, the German Children's Fund and UNICEF have been facilitators of this. In 2015, this phase finishes by presenting successfully evaluated qualification concepts for the target groups of educators, teachers at general schools and social pedagogues in extracurricular youth work. Afterwards, we have been working on expanding and scaling these concepts and numerous publications and downloads bundle knowledge, methods and practical examples.

In the area of early childhood education, we cooperate with 16 youth welfare organizations throughout Germany. In the school sector, the focus is currently on the university training of future teachers. For this, we get the support of academics at several universities, e.g. Leibniz University of Hanover, FU Berlin, TU Dresden and the universities of Hamburg, Göttingen, Osnabrück and Vienna.

In the area of out-of-school youth work, the qualification programs we have developed are regularly offered by several social-educational training institutes.

Our approaches

"jungbewegt" promotes in all modules the participation and democratic education of young people, it takes into account the specific conditions in early childhood, in school and out of school. In recent years, we have increasingly exploited the potential of digital mediation formats.

No one is born a good citizen;
no nation is born a democracy.
Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime.
Young people must be included from birth.
A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.
Kofi Annan

Our next steps

Democracy education will continue to be a central issue for us in the coming years. In doing so, we will increasingly focus on current social problems such as right-wing extremism, racism, anti-Semitism, Muslim hostility and Islamism. We are looking forward to present the first results in early 2021. Here, too, we will put a spotlight on digital formats.