The value of transparency. Bringing Open Government closer to children.28/03/2018
Fco. Javier López Carvajal. Consultant. Vice-President of Acreditra. Secretary of the Official School of Political Science and Sociology in Murcia (Colegio Oficial de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología de la Región de Murcia).
Transparency, as one of the central concepts of Open Government, has been part of the daily political, communications and social agenda in Spain for several years. However, it is a new term for the citizenry in general, not yet part of our cultural estate. Hence the importance of dissemination and training activities undertaken by public administrations and civil society.
The III National Open Government Plan (III Plan de Gobierno Abierto del Estado) aims to instil values and principles that are essential for the development of Open Government and achieve their inclusion in the curriculum. But this is not yet a reality, hence the many institutions that have implemented activities to disseminate Open Government amongst two audiences that are key to its future and its consolidation: infants and adolescents. There have been numerous initiatives in this area, from the National Transparency and Good Governance Council (Consejo de Transparencia y Buen Gobierno del Estado) to the work undertaken by local councils, mostly via competitions, whereby the youngest members of society are invited to express what transparency means to them.
One of the first administrations to do so was the Cartagena City Council. In 2016 the Cartagena Transparent City Awards (Premios Cartagena Ciudad Transparente) was convened for the Primary and Secondary Education categories. For the former, the youngest members of society depicted what transparency meant to them, whilst secondary school students followed suit with group narrative and research activities. The Council provided teachers of both groups with short guides, containing explanations of the concepts inherent to Open Government and Transparency. However, despite its success, municipal authorities decided to go one step further in 2017: if we want the youngest members of society to internalise these principles and values they must be conveyed more directly and adapted to their age group.
To implement the project, a multidisciplinary team was created with the objective of reaching the youngest members of society via a storybook that they liked and, above all understood. This was accompanied by a teaching guide aimed at teachers, and a set of activities to reinforce the acquisition of the values and principles that the centres aimed to inculcate in their students. In addition, given the high number of bilingual schools, it was decided to also publish the book in English, so it could be worked on in class in both languages. The Council also facilitated access to the books through its transparency portal (https://www.cartagena.es/plantillas/4.asp?pt_idpag=2120).
It was, therefore, a pioneering experience in Spain on a local level, but its results were also clearly visible at the II Edition of the Cartagena Transparent City Awards (II Edición de los Premios Cartagena Ciudad Transparente), which saw an increase in participants, in the quality of the work presented, and the number of educational centres involved in the project.