24 February 2011

Egyptian Children Define Democracy

This is interesting – and prescient to say the very least. Don’t give up on it in the first minute; subtitles do kick in when the kids start talking. Last year Emad Attia Botros and his colleagues decided that they wanted to create a short film that would allow the young people of Egypt to talk about democracy so that it could be used to teach and educate their peers about what it means.

Children aged 7-16 were filmed and asked to tell stories to illuminate what they meant and to elaborate metaphorically on the concept. Interestingly one of them chose to talk about how the people in a village united together to overthrow their landlord who had been dictating to them the way in which they should live. Just a few months later in January and February of this year that is exactly what the people of Egypt did en masse.

Although it might be argued that this was scripted the way in which the children deliver their stories is, on the whole, far too spontaneous to be a learned piece. The whole short film is rather well done with animations used to illustrate the children’s’ stories.

As Egypt has a young population, these are the people who will be (democratically, one hopes) running the show in a few years. If these kids represent a cross section of Egyptian society then the future for the country is brighter than many suspect.

It did make me ponder. If I was to gather a similar group of European or American kids and ask them to define democracy would the answers they give be half as articulate as the ones we see here?