“We should explore other ways of participating based on non-formal education, active participation and new technologies” – discover Lluc Martí’s reflections on “A Matter of Trust”: IEMed Mobility Program!
In the May issue of the monthly bulletin of the Spanish Network of the Anna Lindh Foundation, we are pleased to have Lluc Martí, member of the Fundació Catalunya Voluntària.
Lluc Martí is a program coordinator, project manager and trainer at the Fundación Cataluña Voluntaria-FCV, and is also responsible for the “Voluntariat Actiu” and “Clam per la Pau” programs. He started volunteering at the age of 11 and has been involved in the fields of volunteerism, non-formal education and intercultural learning since 2000.
Martí was one of the Foundation’s facilitators who participated in “A Matter of Trust”, the second project of the “A Matter of Trust” Mobility Program. This project was held in the Andalusian town of Jerez de la Frontera between 11 and 15 April and was run by the Inter Youth Association. In this interview, Lluc Martí explains his ideas about the initiative.
The main objective of the “A Matter of Trust” project is to “build a bridge of trust between young people and politics”. For Lluc Martí, what role does this “trust” play in the construction of an active and responsible citizenship?
Trusting politicians and who represents us is essential. The lack of trust in the political class, whether through corruption or for any other reason, such as revolving doors, negatively affects people’s participation in politics and, consequently, worsens the quality of our democracy. Political representatives must be an example not only for their ability to communicate or manage public resources with a minimum of common sense, but also for their civic values. In my opinion, this requires an open mind, prioritizing the general interest over the partisan, thinking in the long term and also respecting the adversary, in order to reach agreements with him. Corruption and the inability to agree (even communicate) among politicians do not help people feel comfortable or confident. In Jerez, for example, I learned that in Estonia, for almost 20 years, different parties have always governed in coalition, whereas here, at state level, in 40 years, there has not been a single coalition government (which has happened in the autonomous governments). If a politician is corrupt or violates the law it is his responsibility, but if, despite proof of this, many people continue to vote for him, it is no longer only his responsibility, but also that of all those who vote for him.
In any case, the current democratic system, which consists of asking us for trust by voting every ten years, is not enough to build this much needed trust, but we should explore other ways of participating based on non-formal education, on active participation and on new technologies, so that everyone can feel part of it.
Could you explain to ReFAL readers how you participated in the project?
It was very interesting to enter an institute and dedicate two mornings to dialogue and exchange with the students, to know their opinion and concerns on topics that really interest them. I was very struck by the fact that boys and girls of 16, 17 years old proposed, instead of lowering the voting age to 16 (as is the case in other countries), to increase it to 20. This is due both to a lack of information on how to participate and to a lack of opportunities to participate. The truth is that we should be concerned. To think that it is necessary to wait until the age of 18 to participate in politics is in itself contradictory with all the existing regulations on the rights of children and young people, based on listening to their opinions, responding to their needs and enabling them to make their own decisions. The good news is that they are very interested in talking about these topics, the bad news is that many students are lost.
“A Matter of Trust” reviews different forms of government established in the recent past in the four countries involved: autocracy, Francoism, communism and fascism. What tools do you think we have to use from civil society to forge a social and responsible conscience with the recent history of our peoples?
There are various initiatives for intergenerational and intercultural dialogue, based on the exchange of experiences between people, which serve to know and learn from the past and to avoid falling into the same mistakes. I remember in high school the history teacher gave us the task of interviewing our grandparents to tell a story of the civil war. This helped me more than any other activity, not only to learn the story, but also to learn about my story. It’s the life of my two grandmothers and my grandfather and the story of a whole era of tragedy. The difference is found in the fact that every student can relate what is explained in class to their reality, their experience, concerns, abilities, interests. The same applies to the participation of young people in politics. A methodology based on the exchange of knowledge and experiences between people with very diverse experiences has a greater impact not only cognitively but also emotionally than any methodology based on the acquisition of a lot of information.
Could we talk about a global trust deficit?
I don’t know. I believe that the problems come, firstly, from the discrediting of democracy. On the one hand, from the influence of organizations that have not been democratically elected, such as the International Monetary Fund or the European Central Bank. On the other hand, from the fact that many people believe that representatives do not exercise the power that they have because of interest groups, which do not act in the general interest but rather focus on the actions of democratically elected governments. I understand that there is a certain apathy because of discredit and mistrust, but, on the other hand, I believe that there is a certain attitude of a victim, a passive one, which is limited to blaming, criticising, rather than acting, when, in the end, the actions of each person also build a democratic system.
In general, what is your overall assessment of the project? Would you repeat the experience?
I value the meeting very positively. I could see how the students kept all their attention by having the opportunity to reflect and discuss topics that interested them, in a participative and entertaining way, something that, by the way, they did not seem to be very used to doing.
Projects such as this are useful for learning new perspectives and for learning from the knowledge of others beyond the teacher, including the students themselves. In this case, thanks to young people who are politicians and who have been voted on and elected in their countries, everyone has been able to learn how other systems work.
Students are asking for more practice and less theory and, in my opinion, they need to feel that the education system cares about them.
I was very sad to see that insults and bullying exist in schools and I cannot understand how there is a teacher in this country who can teach a class if there is one (or more than one) person in that class who is afraid of a classmate. If I were a teacher, I would first try to solve that problem and then I could teach. Incidentally, can anyone explain to me why the system which in Finland has practically put an end to the serious problem of bullying is not being implemented in Spain?