The issue paper is one of the key outputs of the European Commission’s working group on equality and values in education and training.
The paper highlights the main challenges and inspiring practices that arose from the working group meetings on citizenship education. It addresses, for example, issues related to:
the curriculum and content of citizenship education
teaching and teacher training
whole school approach
assessement and evaluation
The paper includes a definition of the key relevant concepts, summarises different types of citizenship education and ways in which it is taught in EU countries, as well as the most relevant EU initiatives. It also briefly looks at the complexity of assessing citizenship education competences, the use of AI, and ongoing research in this field.
Some key messages
Effective teaching material is lacking and needs regular update to address the rapid changes in society.
Teaching citizenship education can be demanding for teachers in terms of time and adequate training.
Teaching about controversial issues should not be ignored but it needs to be addressed carefully and respectfully.
Teachers need to be supported to provide citizenship education through both initial teacher education and ongoing continuous professional development, including developing their digital competency, awareness of social networking channels and platforms, as well as diversity management training.
Citizenship education is most effective if taught as a specific subject but also with a cross-curricular approach, and it requires less traditional formats of teaching and learning.
Citizenship education should move beyond ‘one size fits all’ approaches and enable critical thinking to actively engage students.
Parents and the local community are not always supportive of addressing controversial topics at school and this might lead to feeling of exclusion and lack of trust.
Citizenship education should be considered in the framework of a whole school approach, be embodied in the school processes and physical environment, and engage with the wider community.
Citizenship education documents generally refer to citizens but it can be useful to expand such framing to non-citizens as well, such as refugees.
In relation to the EU context, learning about the origins and functioning of the EU is an important component of citizenship education and should leave room for critical reflection.
Assessing competences linked to citizenship eduction is complex due to its often cross-curricular nature and non-formal elements. Assessement needs to be multifaceted, including knowledge, attitudes and skills.