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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Citizenship education in Serbia

by Ruzica Madzarevic
Language: EN
Document available also in: HR


Citizenship education is present through the general education pathway as a specific subject since 2001. It is also part of compulsory subjects in the core curricula for functional adult education (so-called Second chances school), named as responsible living in civic society1.

Regardless of different names and structure of classes, main outcomes are the same: developing social and civic competence as one of the key competencies.

Similar to main principals of the functional adult education, citizenship education is planned as interactive teaching and there are many workshop templates that teachers may use. However, official textbooks for teachers are the same since the subjects are introduced and there is a need to explore what kind of update is necessary.

Some of the guidelines are offered as the result of the study: Effects of the subject citizenship education, done in 2019 by NGO Civic Initiatives expert team2. Curricula analysis shows that some currently important topics, ex. peer violence, aren’t included. Also, there aren’t enough materials for activities that aim to increase critical thinking competencies (especially critical reading of the media content).  It is necessary to change teaching about human right documents and other policies- it has to be presented through examples and case studies.

Unfortunately, there is no recent study that takes a closer look at these topics in functional adult education. But, bearing in mind that there was no change in curricula and materials since 2011, we could expect some similar findings.

Parallel with curricula analysis, effect analysis is conducted3. What is interesting for trainers in adult learning is the following:

  • Among general population citizenship, education is perceived as important and necessary.
  • High school students know more about it than high school students from the 2009 study, even though the level of knowledge is not on a satisfactory level.
  • Students reported that they like the subject, atmosphere but it looks like they don’t transfer knowledge in the real-life situations- they don’t trust enough in government institutions and report that they have no plans for civic initiatives.

These findings are interesting because they indicate that there is a need to support citizenship in adult education as a clearly defined field of learning and as a way for lifelong development of social and civic competence. In the same time, there is no training in this area for adults older than 30, while there are some non-formal training for youth. In the annual Adult Education Plan for 20194, most of the recognized training aims to develop specific work-related competencies.

Open question and task for trainers in adult education are: how we will manage continuity of citizenship education and ensure lifelong development of social and civic competence.




1 Subject description available in Serbian here 

2 A complete report about curricle analysis available in Serbian here  

3 Complete report available in Serbian here

Adult Education Plan for 2019 avalibale in Serbian here

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  • J Christophe Wells's picture
    Your comments are very illuminating. Adult education is becoming a priority in the European Union and we need to develop strategies to facilitate a greater understanding of the concept of citizenship. Such strategies could combine face to face learning with online distance learning?
  • Ruzica Madzarevic's picture
    I am glad you liked the blog. The approach you suggested seems interesting. Besides that, I am curious to find out what would be the topics that will be the most interesting for adult learners. Maybe, you have some ideas about what would be interesting to your colleagues, friends, students?