Version of 31 January 2000

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Version of 31 January 2000

    Strasbourg, 19 July 2000 DECS/EDU/CIT (2000) 16




    Strategies for Learning

    Democratic Citizenship

Dr. Karlheinz Duerr, Landeszentrale fuer politische Bildung Baden-Wuerttemberg

    Prof. Dr. Vedrana Spajic-Vrkaš, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Philosophy,

    Department of Education

    Dr. Isabel Ferreira Martins, Ministry of Education, Secretariado Entreculturas, Lisbon


    The opinions expressed in this work are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Council for Cultural Co-operation of the Council of Europe nor that of the Secretariat.

    All correspondence concerning this report or the reproduction or translation of all or part of the document should be addressed to the Directorate General IV Council of Europe F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex.



    In 1997, the Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC) project was set up with the aim to find out which values and skills individuals require in order to become participating citizens, how they can acquire these skills and how they can learn to pass them on to others.

    A Project Group composed of education ministries representatives, specialists, international institutions and NGOs active in the field of education for democratic citizenship was set up at the beginning of the project. The project activities grounded in theory as well as in practical everyday life, have been divided between three sub-groups. They worked on

A concepts / definitions :

    Aims: to work out a framework of concepts for education for democratic citizenship together with the appropriate terminology and to identify the basic skills required for democratic practices in European societies.

B pilot projects / sites od citizenship:

    Aims: to identify, learn from, compare, appraise and encourage the development of citizenship sites (innovative and empowering initiatives in which citizens participate actively in society, especially at the local level). Partnerships between the different actors involved in education for citizenship (e.g. schools, parents, the media, businesses, local authorities, adult education establishments) are identified and supported.

C training and support systems :

    Aims: to identify different methods and ways of learning, teaching and training, to build up a network of multipliers, adult educators, teacher trainers in education for democratic citizenship, to exchange information and experience in the field of EDC and to create fora for reflection and discussion.

The many activities carried out between 1997 and 2000 resulted, inter alia, in the project‟s

    synthesis report and three complementary studies presented at the project‟s final conference

    (Strasbourg, 14-16 September 2000).

In addition to the present report, these are :

    - Education for democratic citizenship : a Lifelong Learning Perspective, by César

    Birzéa, the synthesis report of the overall EDC project

    - Basic concepts and core competencies for education for democratic citizenship, by

    François Audigier

    - Sites of citizenship: Empowerment, participation and partnerships by Liam Carey and

    Keith Forrester.

Further information on the EDC project‟s activities, studies, reports and publications can be

    found on the project‟s internet website:






1.1. Background 9

    1.1.1. Learning for Democratic Citizenship: An instument for developing a culture of rights and

    responsibilities 9 The relationship between rights and responsibilities 11 Rights and responsibilities as an educational task 13 The changing environment of EDC 15

    1.1.2. Learning for democratic citizenship in Europe the current situation 16

    1.1.3. Changes in the environment of learning for democratic citizenship 22 Aspects of change in the educational contex 22 East-west: similarities and differences in the changing contexts 28 1.1.4. Educational reforms and learning for democratic citizenship 31 1.1.5. Education for democratic citizenship and related approaches 35 Education for democratic citizenship and civic education 36 Education for democratic citizenship and human rights education 37 Education for democratic citizenship and intercultural education 38 Education for democratic citizenship and peace education 40 Education for democratic citizenship and education in world affairs 41

1.2. Where learning for democratic citizenship takes place 42

    1.2.1. Formal Education 42 The School 42 Teacher qualifications for Education for Democratic Citizenship 44 Higher Education and Education for Democratic Citizenship 48 1.2.2. Adult Education 49 Scope and dimensions 46 The construction of an adult‟s identity 47 Training strategies and methods 48

     1.2.3 Non-formal education 49 The changing concept of education 49 The transversal nature of Democratic Citizenship Learning 52



2.1. Education for Democratic Citizenship - general characteristics 57

    2.1.1. Core concepts/values 60

    2.1.2. Skills 60

    2.1.3. Attitudes 61

2.2. Skills and competencies of the actors in education for democratic citizenship 61

    2.2.1. The Learner and the "Teacher" 61

    2.2.2. School and the society 63 Basic functions of school 64 The “Socialisation Function” of school 64

    2.2.3. The Individual and Society 66


2.3. Education for Democratic Citizenship Methodology - An Overview 67

    2.3.1 The Interdependence of objectives, content and methodology of Education for Democratic

     Citizenship 67

    2.3.2 Selection of the subject-matter 68

    2.3.3 Formulation of objectives of the transmitting process 68 2.3.4 Organisation of the transmitting process 68 2.3.5 Methods for the presentating subject-matter 69 2.3.6 The evaluation of results 70

2.4. Conditions for EDC 71

    2.5.1. School related conditions 71

    2.5.2. Society related conditions 72

2.5. Guiding Principles (Conclusions) 73



    The fundamental changes that have taken place in Europe since the beginning of the last thdecade of the 20 Century have led to new and complex challenges in the established as well as in the new democracies. While countries in Western Europe are faced with accelerating economic, social, technological and political changes, countries in Central and Eastern Europe seek to consolidate their newly established political and economic orders, overcome the heritage of the past to develop a new political culture and instil in their citizens the ideas of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

    Both developments are characterised by the removal, replacement or suppression of traditional ideas, values, conventions, and norms of behaviour. A comprehensive rebuilding of social, economic and political structures is taking place everywhere; it requires new competencies, skills and knowledge and learning processes are at the core of these developments. It is only by learning that comprehension, commitment and knowledge can be transmitted, acquired and shared. In this integrated process, the very idea and practice of learning itself is changing. Learning is no longer restricted to the earlier stages of human life, to formal systems like schools and universities or professional training processes. In this period of rapid, constant and enduring change, learning becomes a life-long aim of individuals, societies and states. New objectives and approaches are required for learning processes in society and the economy alike. Autonomous and critical thinking, readiness to accept responsibilities and innovative attitudes are some of the criteria that determine modern educational processes. Democracy is

    the political system that allows such learning. However, if it is true that, historically, situations of deep-reaching change have contributed to increasing instability, democratic values should be seen as the core element for all to learn.

    Citizens, who are able to behave in an autonomous, critical, participative and responsible way form the central requirement for any society that respects the principles of democracy, human rights, peace, freedom and equality. If, as Abraham Lincoln stated, democracy is to be understood as "government for the people, by the people, and of the people", then three important conclusions can be drawn:

    - Firstly, the term "citizen" does not merely imply a legal status within the political system;

    rather, it implies competencies, skills and capabilities that must be transmitted in a life-long

    learning process.

    - Secondly, Learning for Democratic Citizenship is a comprehensive task that cannot take

    place in formal institutions alone, it is rather learnt in multifaceted formal and non-formal

    settings involving the co-ordination and co-operation of the relevant institutions and


    - Thirdly, during the learning process, the relationship between the transmitter and the

    learner changes dramatically. The question of how people (i.e. individual citizens) are to

    meet the requirements inferred on them by citizenship in an effective manner will become

    more and more important.

These three conclusions cover the central issues of this study:


    ; The first calls for a reappraisal of the changes taking place in learning as well as the

    contexts, contents and requirements of learning processes that form the cornerstones of

    education for democracy. The study raises questions on these matters particularly in Part

    1, Chapter 1.1 and in Part 2, Chapter 2.1

; The second raises the question of the institutional framework in Learning for Democratic

    Citizenship. Even though this framework is still characterised by the dominance of the

    formal educational sector, in the future it must be brought into close interaction with

    another increasingly important area in democratic learning i.e. society. The study describes

    these issues in Part 1, Chapter 1.2 and Part 2, Chapter 2.2

    ; The third conclusion underlines the importance of methods and approaches in successful

    and sustained Learning for Democratic Citizenship. Since formal education is no longer

    the only supplier of knowledge, it is faced with increasing pressure to develop more

    effective and attractive forms of learning. Innovative methods of teaching and learning will

    be decisive factors in gaining the acceptance and motivation of learners. The study is

    primarily directed at practitioners (teachers and multipliers) and a comprehensive survey of

    methods and practices is undertaken in Part 2. Furthermore, the authors felt that there was

    also a need to make a compilation of exemplary models of “good practice” from all over

    Europe. The papers, materials, project descriptions and curricular concepts collected from

    a large number of European countries are summarised in the so-called “Synopsis”

    document (*). The authors recommend that work on the Synopsis should be continued so

    as to be developed into a comprehensive European Data Base of Good Practices in EDC.

(*) See “Learning for democratic citizenship: Synopsis of approaches, methods and good

    practices” by Sabine Manzel and Markus Dreher, doc. DGIV/EDU/CIT (2000) 28.


    PART 1



1.1. Background

1.1.1 Learning for Democratic Citizenship: An instrument for

    developing a culture of rights and responsibilities

    In the "Final Declaration", passed at the Second Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe in October 1997, the assembly expressed their view that "the far-reaching changes in Europe and the great challenges to our societies require intensified co-operation between all European democracies". The Summit went on to say:

     (...) "Aware of the educational and cultural dimension of the main challenges to be

    faced by Europe in the future as well as of the essential role of culture and education

    in strengthening mutual understanding and confidence between our peoples: - (we)

    express our desire to develop education for democratic citizenship based on the rights

    and responsibilities of citizens, and the participation of young people in civil society." 1(...)

    The aim to strengthen democratic stability in the member states was the main focus of the Action Plan attached to the "Final Declaration". In Chapter IV of the Action Plan, the Summit stated:

    "Education for democratic citizenship: the Heads of State and Government have

    decided to launch an initiative for education for democratic citizenship in order to

    promote citizens' awareness of their rights and responsibilities in a democratic society, 2activating existing networks, ..."

    The emphasis on "citizens' rights and responsibilities" and on the need for "active citizens' (and in particular those of young people) “participation" within a "civil society" reflects the increasing concern among politicians and other public figures, scientists and educators about the state of democratic culture in Europe. Other focal points of the Declaration and Action Plan pointed to the need to stimulate "respect for human rights and the rule of law", the view "to building a freer, more tolerant and just European society based on common values", and, in general, "cohesion, stability and security in Europe".

    As a result of the Summit's Declaration, the Council of Europe, being the largest and oldest intergovernmental organisation in Europe, established a major programme "Education for Democratic Citizenship" (EDC).

     1 Council of Europe, Final Declaration of the Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France, October 11, 1997, p.1. The Declaration and Action Plan can be found on the internet:

    2 Ibid., p. 5 ff.



    In 1997 the Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC) project was set up with the aim of finding out which values and skills individuals require in order to become participating citizens, how they can acquire these skills and how they can learn to pass them on to others. In 1998 ndthe project received further political support at the 2 Summit (October 1997 in Strasbourg)

    of the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe. They agreed, as a part of their Action Plan, to raise citizens‟ awareness of their rights and responsibilities in a

    democratic society, to activate existing networks and to encourage and facilitate the participation of young people in civil society.

Empowering citizens in a rapidly changing world

    In today‟s increasingly complex and diverse world, it has become necessary to redefine the

    meaning of participatory democracy and to reassess the status of the citizen. Extremist movements, violence, racism, xenophobia and social exclusion threaten democracies. Globalisation and far-reaching technological development challenge them. Each individual has a vital role to play in achieving democratic stability and peace in society. The Education for Democratic Citizenship project seeks to find out how individuals can be inspired to take up this challenge and how they can be empowered to play this responsible role in the context of the rapidly evolving political structures of modern democratic citizenship.

A many-sided approach

    Democratic citizenship is more than a matter of established legal and formal rights and responsibilities. It also covers a wide range of possible relationships between individuals, groups, associations, organisations and communities. Education for democratic citizenship can take place in schools, but also outside, in any place where people get together, at any time during people‟s lives - it is based on the idea of life-long learning. Thus the EDC project is many-sided in its concepts and activities and touches political, legal, social and cultural areas of democratic societies.

Target groups

    The project addresses a great variety of people and concerns all age groups and all social classes. It focuses particularly on politicians, decision-makers, teachers, parents of pupils, media experts, company representatives, trade unions, NGOs, communities, cultural and political institutions. For political leaders it is necessary to facilitate decision-making in favour of education for democratic citizenship. For practitioners in the field it is important to support examples of good practice, to study concepts and approaches, to produce educational material and to develop networks between the different partners.


    The EDC project aims at heightening public understanding and awareness of the many different aspects of democratic citizenship, particularly in a context of social change. The consideration and improvement of institutional structures and processes specific to the development of education for democratic citizenship (e.g. schools, communities) are central objectives. Politicians and decision-makers at all levels are encouraged to treat education for democratic citizenship as a key feature of education policy.

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