Hunger of democracy

And now we leave the floor to Kuzey Sagkal, a young boy with very clear ideas on what democracy should be based on.

I am a 17 years old student from Doga Schools in Turkey. Me and my friend Deniz have been working on the topic of democracy since 2016. We have delivered a lot of workshops in Greece, Turkey and Finland.

People often talk about countries “becoming” democracies, once they start to have relatively free and open elections. But democracy includes far more than just elections, and it really makes more sense to think about the idea of ‘will of the people’, rather thanjust voting. Most of the Turkish people look at social democracy in a different way; for instance, choosing a class captain is considered to be something big in democracy, whilst in some of the more advanced countries such as Finland this is perceived as being just normal. The main reason behind our hunger for democracy is that we do not have a social democracy. We can only use democracy in its true essence only once in every five years, i.e. for the elections. We can restructure the way we think about democracy by educating our new generations on how to use democracy in their daily life. We can familiarize their opinions on democracy. Today, if we were to ask a Turkish citizen what democracy is, they would only make references to the elections, because that is all we have in the name of democracy in Turkey and underdeveloped countries. Me and my friend Deniz had conversations with people from other countries, who think their
countries are not democratic enough. We all have the same problems of lack of social democracy. In Turkey, our biggest obstacle is created by our minimum wages, which are too low, unlike EU and other advanced countries. Because of that, our people just focus on their work for subsistence and cannot really afford to care about democracy in their daily lives, even in their offices, which sets a bad example for their children who ignore anything about democracy, thus creating an endless loop.

EU projects showed me what is lacking in our democracy system and this led me into thinking about how to solve these problems.

1 Lack of social democracy

1.a Teaching democracy in our schools to the younger generation

as a subject like maths. However, the biggest obstacle is our government. Low educated people do not want to change this system and the current government is happy about this situation.

1.b Push them to use democracy in every scenario in their lives. For instance, choosing their meals at the family dinner by expressing their opinions, or choosing their student council through a democratic voting system, perhaps even including e-voting.

2 Rigging democratic elections

2.a Even though it does not look like a huge problem, it is one of the biggest problems inTurkey’s electoral system. By changing our systemto an e-voting model, we could minimise this risk and make voting easier.

In conclusion, if we were to apply these proposed actions step by step, we could advance our democracy and make use of democratic thoughts in our daily lives. Sure, it will take a long time to put these proposals into action, but our younger generations will be better for it.

 

Kuzey Sagkal from Doga Schools

 

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Raising the voice of young people in Turkey

The 17-year-old girl Irem Abdurrazzakoglu opens our eyes to the urgent need for young people in Turkey to raise their voices and defend their ideas and opinions. The WYRED Project helps them to express their thoughts freely.

My  name  is İrem  Abdurrazzakoğlu. I am a student from Çamlıca Theological High School for  Girls  in Turkey.  I  am 17  years  old  and  I believe  that,  as a  young  person, I need  to express my thoughts.

The WYRED project is an umbrella  platform  for me,  on  which we  can work on creative projects,  express our ideas and take on responsibilities. We will be thrown into the ‘adult world’ sooner or later, so before this  happens  we should  improve  ourselves. I attended  the WYRED social dialogues and joined the community as a teenager to produce new ideas with other students. Today, young people are not given much space to  have a  say.  However, we  want  to change that.  With  projects  such  as  WYRED, which enables  us  to make  ourvoices  heard, we  are taking trainings for a society in which everyone freely shares ideas, respects ideas and is equal.

After the general elections in Turkey, I thought I  should revise  my  topic and  decide  to write about democracy. As  we  all know,  we  live in a  world  where democracy prevails. Every day, many regulations are made in order to make people’s life easier. Although the layout we live in looks nice  from  the outside,  does  it actually give us the  opportunity to express  our   thoughts freely? With the recent elections in our country, young people started to get more attention from the state. We started to follow the demonstrations organised  by the  party  leaders. With  these regulations, we are  told,  young people  will have  more rights  and  advantages. When will we  start  to express  ourselves  better as young people? It is obvious  that  each person  will  have their own  ideas. We all  want to tell  people about these ideas in the best possible way. As  a matter of fact, we are fighting a lot about our ideas. We all strive to defeat each other in the direction of our political ideals and ideologies. Sometimes we break each other’s hearts to justify our ideas. Sometimes adults try to impose their ideas on us and do not allow us to have our own thoughts. It is not well received for a right-wing father to have a left-wing  child. In such situations, we  simply keep our ideas to ourselves and remain silent. Sometimes we are not allowed to talk, they say we are too young to defend our ideas. We often hear that we do not know anything and  that’s why  we  cannot decide.

In  short, we  cannot have any idea, we cannot defend ourselves ideologically and we do not respect  the opinions of others.  But we can change it, we can learn to argue in a respectful way and prove that we have meaningful ideas. In addition to the above, young people cannot explain their own thoughts as much in school. One of  the main reasons for this is that students are not taken seriously by administrators. Students are hesitant to submit their ideas and suggestions in their schools, or they   cannot get  a   feedback. They face a sanction; they are subject to disciplinary threats or cannot receive a response. If  our own  ideas are not respected, our self-esteem as young people is damaged, we are forced to stay in silence and we are exposed to injustice. Some  changes  must be  made  so that  young people  in schools  do not face  such  situations. For   example,  a   school   council  should   be established  and  every  student should  be  able to express  complaints  and suggestions.  In  the elections held in school, every student must be eligible without any age and class restrictions. Students  should not  be  dismissed when  they comment  on a  situation. The administrators should  always  be open to students and  give importance  to their  ideas. Do not  forget  that we are  young  people, representatives  of  the future and our ideas are important.

 

Listen to the young people’s voice, please. We are trying to raise it.

 

Irem Abdurrazzakoglu

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