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Adults as active citizens in society

In the past, the term "citizenship" was used mainly for high-ranking people in society who represented some kind of power or contributed in some way to the development of the society or community in which they lived. These were men who were engaged in science or activities of importance for society. Over time, the concept of citizenship is expanding and provides an opportunity for gender equality and the inclusion of women in a group of active citizens who will contribute to society. The process that follows the overall development of active citizens is education, which, in addition to the educational aspect, provides support for inclusion in various social spheres.       

The social-emotional aspect, which is, to a certain extent, developed through education, is very important in the life of each of us. Empowering men and women to understand and appreciate diversity, to recognize themselves, their values and skills as well as their position in society, to develop empathy but also the sense of collective identity, cultural heritage and belonging to the global community, the themes are of importance for the development of every society.

Considering that in the education system of the Republic of Serbia, by the decision of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, civic education was first introduced as an optional subject in 2001/2002 and later granted the status of elective and compulsory elective subject, today the subject of civic education is realized in primary and secondary school based on the recommendation of the Council of Europe with the aim of education for active participation in a democratic society. (Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development - http://www.mpn.gov.rs/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/EVALUACIJA_IZBORNOG_PREDMETA_GRADJANSKO_VASPITANJE.pdf  - available in Serbian language).

Those who have completed their education previously did not meet these topics. Citizenship adult education, with the same goal - preparation and empowerment of adults for active participation in society, is realized mainly through programs included in non-formal or informal education. The significance of such concepts of adult education is recognized in our country as well, and many organizations dealing with non-formal education and involving adults in their activities deal with this topic. The emphasis is on developing self-confidence and recognizing oneself as a significant and active member in society. Strengthening self-confidence and self-awareness and values contributes to a more active participation of individuals in society. As equal members of the community, individuals recognize the ability to seek for themselves and their community, to deal with issues of importance and to actively participate in decision making. An inclusive approach to an active participation community increases communication with different groups, develops empathy and helps in understanding different cultures and affiliations, and contributes to strengthening connectivity with different groups, strengthening the interaction with others and accepting themselves as equal members of a community with equal rights.

The areas of adult education are varied and diverse and range from a global level - understanding of globally relevant topics such as different social systems, politics, history, economics, human rights and citizens' obligations, gender equality, etc.., across the national - structures and processes that are important for the state, to the local level and what is important for the functioning of the community in the city in which we live.

Adults develop different life skills through such programs, which are, first of all, critical thinking (finding relevant and accurate information, analyzing and adequate use of this information, etc.), problem-solving skills (identifying sources of support and ways of overcoming barriers, etc.), communication skills (overcoming language barriers, developing assertive communication, etc.), accepting differences, understanding different cultures and values, empathy, and others.

Citizenship education brings opportunities for all to be active in their society, to be empowered to raise their voice and stand up for their interests.

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