Thursday, May 31, 2012
The European network Eurydice examines education on citizenship in Europe
A report provided by the education network Eurydice, and published by the European Commission stresses that education for citizenship is well established in the EU Member States, but efforts are still needed to improve teacher training in this area.
Only two countries (UK - England and Slovakia) are offering training for prospective specialist teachers in initial teacher education programmes. The report indicates a general consensus that citizenship education should aim to develop critical thinking, analytical skills and attitudes to foster active participation in school and society.
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "Citizenship education endows pupils with the necessary knowledge, skills and values to actively engage in our society. We must encourage this because active participation is at the root of our democratic values in Europe. We also need to put more emphasis on teacher training in this area so that young people are inspired to become active citizens."
The report finds that schools in all European countries have introduced rules and recommendations aimed at encouraging democratic practices and participation through, for example, the election of class representatives, student councils and student representation on school governing bodies. This increases the likelihood that young people will actively engage in social and political life.
While all countries have guidelines to give pupils a voice in the running of their school, since 2007 more than half1 have implemented at least one publicly financed programme or project to cultivate citizenship-related values and attitudes outside school. These include initiatives to encourage pupils from different ethnic and socio-economic groups to get involved in joint activities (Latvia, for instance, has launched a project on these lines) or to bring children in primary schools together with old people in retirement homes (France is among the countries to encourage such 'intergenerational' projects).
Active participation is also increasingly used in pupil assessment. More than a third of European countries2 now take participation in school or community activities into account when assessing students.
The Citizenship Education in Europe report, compiled for the Commission by the Eurydice network, covers 31 European countries – the EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Croatia and Turkey.
It aims to sum up how policies and measures relating to citizenship education have evolved in recent years. The report provides an overview of five main topics: 1) Curriculum aims and organisation; 2) Student and parent participation in schools; 3) School culture and student participation in society; 4) Assessment and evaluation; 5) Support for teachers and school heads. The report also highlights progress made, where evident, since the previous Eurydice study on this topic in 2005. The reference year is 2010/11.
Improving teachers' knowledge and skills for teaching citizenship remains a challenge. While, in general, citizenship education is integrated into initial teacher education courses for secondary education specialists in subjects such as history and geography, only two of the 31 countries assessed (England and Slovakia) train prospective teachers as specialists in citizenship education. Furthermore, while several countries have reformed their citizenship education curricula in recent years, these reforms have rarely been introduced in initial teacher education or continuing professional development programmes.
Standardised methods that guide teachers in their assessment of pupils are also still widely lacking, the report finds.
The report is produced by the Eurydice network, which provides analyses and information on European education systems and policies. It consists of 37 national units based in all 33 countries participating in the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme (EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). It is co-ordinated and managed by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency.
More information The full report
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