Illustrated Constitution for young people

Author: Urša Vidrih

Date: 1. November 2019

Time to read: 2 min

This year marks the twenty-eighth anniversary of the adoption by a two-thirds majority of new democratic rules for Slovenians: the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. We often refer to this fundamental document, but few people know it very well.

To mark its twentieth anniversary, in 2011 the National Assembly designed some projects to make the constitution more familiar to the general public. It decided to first make the constitution available to vulnerable groups. To present it in a format accessible to these, on its online portal the National Assembly made available an audio recording of the constitution as well as a video showing it in Slovenian sign language, and it presented every blind and partially sighted resident with a copy of the constitution in Braille.

Another challenge was how to make the complicated legal language of the text understandable to a young audience. A comic seemed to be the right format, because it is a medium based on a narrative and pictorial simplification. The National Assembly and the Constitutional Court invited the renowned comic artist Zoran Smiljanić to participate in the project.

He designed the Illustrated Constitution as an inviting cartoon land where the main characters, Maja and Miha, take an entertaining and informative walk through about sixty selected articles of the document.

Its content is presented as a kind of guide offering readers playful insights into the functioning of a democratic state and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Active Citizenship Project

At its very outset, the project received a good public response, and this has grown over the years and reached a new dimension. At first, the Illustrated Constitution was only available in an online version (with amendments added in 2014, 2016 and 2017), which primary schools quickly adopted as a useful educational tool for teaching civic education and ethics. In 2017 a printed edition of the Illustrated Constitution was published in 4,500 copies, and the National Assembly, together with the Constitutional Court and the Ministry of Justice, donated copies to all primary school libraries in Slovenia. At the beginning of this year, 22,150 copies of the Illustrated Constitution were reprinted, and every Slovenian seventh-grader received a copy at school as part of the Active Citizenship Project.

Because of its visual attractiveness, the Illustrated Constitution is often used in promotional material, such as bookmarks, a memory game, and colouring books for children who visit the National Assembly. The National Assembly also offers an English edition of the Illustrated Constitution as a protocol gift, and it has been translated into Italian and Hungarian.

To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the National Assembly in 2017, an exhibition on the Illustrated Constitution was opened, which later became the National Assembly’s permanent exhibition in the lobby of the Great Hall’s balcony. The exhibition is currently on display until 3 December 2019 in Ljubljana Castle’s Pentagonal Tower, where it is more accessible to visitors from abroad.

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