That’s how we started the three-hour workshop on youth participation in the municipal participatory budget at Maribor Secondary School II. And immediately got their attention. And explained that idiots are not those who participate, but those who do not participate in the regulation of public common affairs. In the ancient Greek city-states, “idiotes” were considered to be those who only cared about their own egoistic interests, as opposed to “polites” who accepted and implemented their responsibility towards the common regulation of public affairs.
Today, at the Second Secondary School in Maribor, we concluded a series of workshops on participatory budgeting, where we dedicated three school hours to each class from the whole year group. And they us.
In the first hour, we explained how to understand municipal participatory budgeting within a democratic (conventional or unconventional) decision-making process, measured mental associations (Mentimeter) and knowledge of participatory budgeting, and conducted a short survey (partial results will be published soon).
In the second hour, we held a participatory facilitation workshop on the preparation of project proposals that can be included in a participatory budget. We are convinced that through the mechanism of a facilitative and group process of identification and preparation of project proposals, we will get better quality proposals. The facilitation process is a content-neutral process that involves all participants on an equal footing, and consensus decision-making or voting can be used (in most cases) as decision-making systems. We believe that a community-based democratic decision-making system should be as democratic as a participatory budgeting system.
In the third school period, we approached the voting on Maribor’s participatory budget projects with students. We presented the web application, explained how it works and the voting system. Then we asked everyone present to vote. We were not surprised by the reaction of the students when they realised that, although they are mostly underage, they can in fact vote and that their vote will count for something.
By the way, while we were running workshops all week at the Second, the campaign for the student council elections was taking place there. One of the candidates included the introduction of a school participatory budget in her programme of work. Well done! We don’t know if our workshops have led the young candidate to include participatory budgeting in her programme, but we think it’s a good idea…