Education focusing on citizenship and social inclusion

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The ET2020 Working Group on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education has been focusing on one of its most important themes: the development of social and civic competences.

Developing social and civic competences

As Europe becomes increasingly diverse, it faces many opportunities – but also many challenges when it comes to safeguarding some of its fundamental values and democratic principles.

In this context, the ET2020 Working Group on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education – made up of Ministry of Education representatives and other stakeholders – chose to focus on the importance of teaching and learning social and civic competences as a way to safeguard fundamental values based on human rights.

They met in in Vienna in October 2016 to learn from the Austrian Ministry of Education’s experiences with a focus on the contribution which can be made through global citizenship education. It was highlighted that socio-emotional learning, such as social awareness, relationship skills, self-management, self-awareness and responsible decision-making, positively impact academic achievement, school climate and active citizenship. More specific policy messages and examples of good practices can be found online.

In March 2017, another meeting in Paris focused on teacher education. Its main messages were that teaching should not focus on teaching values, but rather on helping learners to take ownership of democratic values. Democratic values cannot be successfully conveyed in the classroom by ‘preaching’ what students should think; this approach might even be counterproductive.

Since 2013, the Commission has been supporting the joint programme ‘Human Rights and Democracy in Action’ with the Council of Europe. Currently, four projects are being implemented in 17 countries.

The IEA International Civic and Citizenship Study, which will be published in November 2017 and which concerns 14 Member States, will provide important data for policy-makers and stakeholders. A report on citizenship education will also be published by Eurydice in November 2017.

To find out more, read this newsletter describing more of the work of all ET2020 Working Groups, including the Schools WG.