IDEC stands for International Democratic Education Conference. It is not the name of an organisation or a group. Each year the conference is organised by a different school or similar organisation that has volunteered to do so at a previous conference. At intervals calls have been made for an official structure of some kind but in practice the autonomy of individual groups in arranging their own conferences has made for exciting variety.

Once the organisers of a conference have been appointed, everything is in their hands - dates, participants, cost, accommodation and style of conference. The length of the conferences has varied between two days for the first one to a fortnight in 1997. Young people of school age have nearly always played a large part; the conferences at Sands School in England in 1997, in Tokyo in 2000 and in Berlin in 2005 were in fact run almost entirely by young people. The longer conferences have included days of sight-seeing and varied social and cultural events. Sometimes there has been a full programme of prepared talks and workshops, and sometimes the programme has been entirely decided by the participants after they arrived; sometimes there has been a bit of both. For the first few years, when the conferences were smaller, they were funded entirely by the host organisation or by outside agencies, but more recently participants have had to pay a fee. All decisions about such matters are taken by the organisers.

There are differing views as to the purpose of the IDECs. Some see them as an opportunity to discuss shared problems in a supportive atmosphere, where you know that other people share your values. Others hope to spread the idea of democratic education by inviting possible converts and attracting favourable publicity. Others see the conference as a means of bonding schools so that they can offer support in times of crisis, on the "united we stand, divided we fall" principle. Some see them as a way of improving the public perception of the host schools in their own countries. The purpose of any given conference is decided by the group that is organising it.

The host organisation sometimes restricts attendance. The first few conferences were by invitation only, but now anyone who is interested can enrol. Usually efforts are made to ensure that as many as possible of the participants are either still at school, or recent leavers.

For anyone who wants to follow the development of IDEC, here is a list of the sites of the annual conferences and the countries represented at each one.

1993 The Democratic School of Hadera, Israel
Austria, Israel, UK, USA

1994 Sands School, England
Austria, Israel, UK

1995 The WUK, Vienna, Austria
Austria, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Norway, UK, USA

1996 The Democratic School of Hadera, Israel
Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, UK, USA

1997 Sands School, England
Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Palestine, Turkey, New Zealand, Ukraine, UK, USA

1998 The Stork Family School, Vinnitsa, Ukraine
Germany, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, UK, Ukraine, USA

1999 Summerhill School, England
Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Palestine, UK, USA

2000 Tokyo Shure, Japan
Australia, China, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, UK, Ukraine, US

2001 The conference was to be held jointly in Israel and Palestine, but the international situation reduced it to a comparatively small event, attended mainly by Israelis, Palestinians and Germans.

2002 Tamariki, New Zealand
Australia, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, the UK and the USA

2003 AERO and Albany Free School, Troy, USA
Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Nepal, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Palestine, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, Ukraine, USA

2004 Schoolscape, Bhubaneshwar, India
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, UK, USA

2005 KRÄTZÄ, Berlin, Germany
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lesotho, Nepal, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, Ukraine, USA.

2006, AAPAE, Sydney, Australia
Australia, Burma/Myanmar, Canada, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, USA.

2007 World Education Forum, Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil
Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, USA.

2008, SANE, Vancouver, Canada
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Palestine, Peru, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, UK, USA

2009, People's Solidarity for Alternative Education, Korean Parents's Association for Alternative Education, Seoul Alternative Learning Community Network, Seoul, Korea
The official conference was cancelled because of a swine flu scare, but the organisers set up an unofficial conference which was attended by people from Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the USA.

2010, Institute of Democratic Education, Tel Aviv, Israel
Australia, Austria, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Poland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, USA

2011 Sands School, England
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK and the USA

2012  Nuestra Escuela, Puerto Rico. Around 800 participants from over thirty different countries.

2013  The Patchwork School, Colorado, USA

2014 Byeopssi School, Gwangmyeong, South Korea

2015  Aotearoa, New Zealand

More than 400 people from 30 different countries

Contact details

Peter Foti
Veltlinerstrasse 1/30
2353 Austria



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