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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



European perspectives on citizenship education

by Christina NORWIG
Language: EN
Document available also in: DE LV NL

How can citizenship education promote civic, democratic and media competences and foster social cohesion in a diverse and tolerant Europe?’

This was the question that the EPALE teams in Germany, Austria and the UK launched some weeks ago. The aim was to gather ideas for the future of citizenship education by educational experts and practitioners from across Europe in light of the social challenges which Europe is currently facing. The contributions that we received covered a wide range of perspectives:

Based on the results of the World Values Survey, Christian Haerpfer (University of Vienna) presents trends of political values in Europe between 1994 and 2014. His research shows positive developments concerning European citizens’ attitudes towards democracy, steady increase in general life satisfaction and personal happiness. Other results showed a decrease of national pride. An interesting question for further discussion is: Would different survey results be produced following from debates on immigration, terrorism or Brexit since 2015?

Bryony Hoskins (University of Roehampton, London) analyses the role of citizens’ values and attitudes for the outcomes of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom. She describes how the public debates on the financial crisis and on immigration have fueled the leave-campaign. From the decision of a small majority of British voters for the Brexit, Bryony Hoskins derives consequences for citizenship education in Europe: Social cohesion, participation and a revived global and European citizenship education should become political priorities. 

What is already being done on European level is the subject of Katrin Kulmer’s (CONEDU Austria) contribution. Her article gives an overview on initiatives in EU educational policies for the protection of freedom and democracy.

Taking a look on the national level, we found interesting practices of citizenship education in Northern Ireland. Jacqueline Irwin, CEO of the Community Relations Council of Northern Ireland, highlights the importance to communicate “citizenship as a vehicle of social change” in adult education; not only in Northern Ireland as a post-conflict country, but also in other countries which face social inequalities.  A practical example for “learning to live with difference” is presented in the blog post by Colin Neilands, former director of the Workers Educational Association of Northern Ireland (WEA). He introduces the WEA course “Us and Them” and its sequel “Us and Them too”, which help groups and organisations to deal with differences by making visible processes of identity labelling (concerning nationality, religion, gender, race, age etc.).

The question how citizenship is lived in every-day practice is raised in the article by Klaus Heuer (German Institute for Adult Education, DIE). Volunteering or citizen sciences are for him acts of social participation. If we search for active citizenship beyond abstract calls for a renewal of democracy, we will find many examples which show that citizenship is “more than just an empty European phrase”, Klaus Heuer says.

Albania with a new democracy but with great ambitions to catch up the sustainable development, has tried to take part in this project without a concrete strategy. The decade coincided with two reforms in the pre university education (2012 and 2015) and one in higher education. They do not only spotlight the philosophical education but also leave it as a secondary option without objectives. This article is written by Majlinda Keta 





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What is your perspective? Leave a comment under the blog-posts or send us your own text on concepts or good practice in citizenship education!
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