Welcome to the website of the Competence Network of Early Years Education for Democracy

The Competence Network of Early Years Education for Democracy (Kompetenznetzwerk Demokratiebildung im Kindesalter) is a joint undertaking of the Institute for the Situational Approach (Institut für den Situationsansatz – ISTA) and the German Children’s Fund (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk). It has been active since the beginning of 2020 and has secured funding from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth until the end of 2024 as part of the national ‘Live Democracy!’ initiative (Demokratie leben!).

The two sponsors of the Competence Network

The Institute for the Situational Approach focuses on education in the early years and is an offshoot of the International Academy Berlin (INA gGmbH). It was founded in 1996 to further develop and disseminate the situational approach in theory and practice. The Department for Children’s Worlds (Fachstelle Kinderwelten) concerns itself with one particular area of research within the Institute for the Situational Approach: since 2011, it has been developing and fostering prejudice-aware education (Vorurteilsbewusste Bildung und Erziehung©) in pre-school centres and primary schools. This represents an extension of the situational approach to include diversity awareness, adultism critique and anti-discrimination.

The German Children’s Fund has been working to support children’s interests in Germany for around 50 years. Children’s rights – incorporated into German law in 1992 – underpin the work of this charity organisation which seeks to promulgate and enforce children’s rights in society and in politics. The Department of Children’s Rights Education (Fachstelle Kinderrechtebildung) of the German Children’s Fund is primarily concerned with the development and realisation of strategies, policy and initiatives in the field of children’s rights-based education for democracy. 

Objectives and tasks of the Competence Network

The aim of our network is to promote holistic education for democracy in pre-school centres as well as in all-day primary schools and after-school activities. Our approach includes the implementation of children’s rights education, inclusion, anti-discrimination and social participation. It is a matter of great importance to us that everyone involved in educating children for democracy is included here – the children themselves, their families, the teaching and educational staff, facility managers and funding agencies. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child serves as a common, binding frame of reference for our work.

We aim to achieve four major objectives in our work:

  1. Raising awareness among professionals, institutions and the general public of the rights of all children to education, participation, inclusion and protection against discrimination
  2. The further development of existing concepts for the holistic promotion of democracy in pre-school centres, after-school facilities and all-day primary schools, and the dissemination of these concepts among professionals
  3. Promoting the transfer from theory to practice in the field of early years education for democracy
  4. Supporting educational institutions in the pre-school and primary school sector in their development process towards becoming democratic places of learning and living

In order to be able to achieve these goals, we have adopted a number of measures.

These include:

  • Conducting and publishing research and analyses in the field of early years education for democracy
  • Coordinating the exchange of experiences and expertise within the pilot projects of the German federal programme in the field of promoting democracy in childhood
  • Organising conferences, training courses and workshops for Early Childhood professionals around the country
  • Developing and providing information and practical materials for professionals and parents
  • Advising professionals, facility managers and funding bodies

For more information on the Early Years Education for Democracy Competence Network and the ‘Live Democracy!’ initiative of the German federal government, please visit the page “About us.

What you can find on our website

  • Under News, you can find out more about upcoming events and the latest developments in the field of education for democracy. We are constantly updating the calendar on this page with events as well as further education and training opportunities on the topics of children’s rights, participation, inclusion and opposing discrimination.
  • The website of the Competence Network provides you with information on Model Projects relevant to promoting democracy in childhood. You will find details about the content and goals of the projects as well as who to get in contact with.
  • Find out more about the advisory activities within the Competence Network and about the further education and training offers on early years education for democracy on the Topics and Offers page. There you can also find information on current and planned research activities as well as publications of the Competence Network.
  • Under Material  you will find a constantly growing collection of recommended information and practical materials for the promotion of education for democracy in pre-school centres, after-school facilities and primary schools. These materials are oriented towards our key topics children’s rights, protection against discrimination, participation and inclusion.

Would you like to know more?

  • Please feel free to get in touch. You can communicate with us via the form on the Contact page.
  • If you would like to receive more information on education for democracy in childhood, sign up for our Newsletter