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Building on existing research, Anna highlights the limitations of current political participatory forms. 6 out of 10 youngsters feel politically powerless and for MBO students, these numbers are even higher. Citizenship education has the potential to foster political participation over time, but many content improvements are still needed. 

She created an in-depth understanding of the context, using the Design Thinking Method and Self Determination Theory. The empathic approach of the project highlighted the complexity of the problem, showing that learning citizenship skills happens all around, in multiple contexts, in direct and indirect ways.  

The complexities of the context were visualized and clarified in a system map, also available online. The map consists of two main aspects: situational contexts that students encounter and two feelings that shape a political attitude. The feeling of understanding and the feeling of belonging influence the extent to which students feel intrinsically motivated to participate politically. The situational contexts and their corresponding factors influence the fulfilment of these two feelings. 

The system map. 

Guided by the system map, Anna began the design phase with a clear mission: to strengthen the understanding of the relationship between MBO students’ daily lives and the municipality, by facilitating a moment to see this relationship, while performing an activity in class. Stakeholders actively participated in ideation activities, leading to the consideration of three design directions. After thorough iterative testing, ‘de Meester Burger’ emerged as the final design. 

Iteratively developing the design. 

Citizenship program ‘De Meester Burger’ 

The ‘Meester Burger’ tool encourages small student groups to delve into municipal themes of their choice. A step-by-step approach ensures tangible conversations, allowing students to explore, share, and discuss insights. The tool supports a what-do-you-think and learning-by-doing strategy, delivering advice to the municipality based on insights and ideas generated throughout the steps. Overall, ‘de Meester Burger’ aims to offer MBO students a meaningful learning experience in class increasing students feeling of understanding and belonging towards the municipality. 

De Meester Burger in use. 

Reflecting on her journey, Anna shares valuable insights into her learnings and the challenges encountered during the project:  

“Exploring the context of politics, education and youngsters has been an eye-opening experience. I have learned much about how youngsters, especially those in Secondary Vocational Education, feel disconnected from politics. This realization motivated me to fully explore this topic and design the system map and the Meester Burger tool.  

The process within the project was challenging. The complexity and broadness of the political context and the educational context, coupled with the diverse perspectives of youth, made capturing the project context challenging. Nevertheless, engaging in interesting conversations with youngsters was a memorable experience. By approaching them with empathy and curiosity, I sometimes already observed a shift in their initial scepticism towards politics. Youngsters realise that politics is closer to them than expected and that they feel their opinions matter. This highlighted the importance of opening this conversation on a deeper level.  

Designing the Meester Burger enables youngsters to talk about politics while enlarging the feeling of understanding and belonging towards politics. Looking forward I hope that more and more young people can be empowered through various initiatives, enabling youngsters to view politics as something they can be part of and feel capable of shaping a positive environment.” 




Student Assistant
Betsie Loeffen
Student Assistant
Sejal Budholiya