shanti with diversity

Warm welcome to each of you to the 25th IDEC, 3rd APDEC & 1st InDEC 2018

We are happy to invite you to the 25th edition of IDEC
International Democratic Education Conference that is to be held in Bengaluru from Thursday, 15th November to Wednesday, 21st November, 2018.

It is also the 3rd APDEC and the 1st InDEC! For the first time in an IDEC event –a coming together, of the local, the regional and the international happening!


Every year, IDEC is held in a different country, to reach out to a variety of educators around the globe and to spread the idea of democracy and peace. The previous conference was held in Israel; in 2016 it was in Finland. Some of the other countries that hosted IDEC were (not in any particular order) Japan in 2000, Puerto Rico in 2012, New Zealand in 2002, Germany in 2005, Korea, Brazil, UK in 2011 and USA in 2003. India hosted one earlier too in 2004, in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. There is no one definition for a democratic school as there is a range, from students running the entire school to children having the freedom to choose their work and lessons. In India, many of the NGOs working with children and education have participatory ways of management and functioning along with the children. Attempts have been made in government primary schools (for instance in TN), where children do not sit in rows with the teacher at the head, but are free to move from group to group and work at their own individual pace; with the teacher’s role being to mainly introduce a topic and to support learning. Wherever one is on the continuum, the idea is to deepen and widen our experience and take it back to our life and work.

Some of the well-known schools and organisations across the globe are Summerhill in UK, which has inspired many individuals and schools and is considered the oldest democratic school; the Sudbury Schools in different countries; Tokyo Shure, Currambena in Australia, Sands in UK, Concerned for Working Children, Bangalore, Activity-Based Learning in government schools in Tamil Nadu and other states, Moo Baan Dek in Thailand, Waldorf and Montessori Schools, many alternative projects, also un-schooling, de-schooling, home-schooling programmes in India and around the world; and Hadera school in Israel, where the movement for Democratic Education was initiated and the history of this conference began, 25 years ago.

India has, from ancient times, a culture of different ways of learning and being. These, in the last hundred years, have been influenced by Gandhi, Aurobindo, Tagore, Annie Besant, Vivekananda, J. Krishnamurti etc. Movements for reforming and transforming the education scenario have been an ongoing process in India and in most countries too.

From IDEC, offshoots have emerged regionally – EUDEC in Europe, APDEC for Asia-Pacific Region and InDEC recently for India. At the conference, we would have 25-30 countries being represented, with about 400-500 participants.

We would like to invite you to participate in the conference in any way that you wish to. Thursday, November 15th, is reserved for APDEC-related presentations and discussions and Tuesday, November 21st - for InDEC to come together to discuss further steps. And in between will be IDEC! All participants are invited for the full conference and the fee is kept the same for one day or for 7-9 (depending on your date of arrival and departure) days, to encourage everyone to stay as long as they can.

The programme will have a mix of presentations, plenaries, practices, workshops and discussions. As is the norm for IDEC, some of these will be structured while some time and space is left open for participants to decide how they would like to engage with the conference community and what of their life and work they would like to share. Each participant is a presenter and each presenter, a participant.
Having a coffee, sitting on the machan (so long as you bring the cups back) is fine or going for a walk or jamming together or talking about your new discovery or what you are excited about lately… You can use any mode too – a PowerPoint, a film, a mime, a lecture-discussion… So, feel free to decide by yourself, with your group and/or in conversation with the IDEC organising team. Besides your presentation, look out for what you would like to be a part of, which will be up on the programme as people register and give details.

The morning would start with a community gathering/meeting, after which there are four time slots every day and five halls, which can be increased if verandas and outdoor spaces are also used. Please refer to the programme page. We warmly welcome each of you to be part of this movement to spread the experience of democracy and shanti, which is of critical importance today.

When I (Amukta) had met the Dalai Lama in 2004 in Bhubaneswar to invite him for the IDEC, I had given him a letter in which I had written – ‘Only if children experience democracy, will a country be truly democratic’. He had the graciousness to read the letter and picked out this sentence and said, ‘True, true’. These have been in my heart ever since.

It will be wonderful if you could make it possible to be there at the conference and to speak of concerns that are dear to you and all of us.

Thank you for your attention.