The aim of the project “Engage - Building together European learning material on Citizenship Education” is to exemplary study policies, frames, settings and conditions for citizenship education with children aged 8 to 12 in six European countries Besides identifying policy frames, approaches, concepts and existing practice the project aims at supporting educational staff with exemplary materials which support interactive, fun, innovative, multilingual democratic learning (...teaching material).

The partnership brings together eight providers of non-formal citizenship education (CE) in seven EU member states: Germany (AdB – Association of German educational Organisations), Austria (zentrum polis – Politik Lernen in der Schule), Belgium (DARE network - Democracy and Human Rights Education in Europe), Spain (CIVES Foundation), France (CIDEM and La Ligue de l’enseignement Bourgogne), Poland (CEO - Center for Citizenship Education), United Kingdom (Volunteering Matters).

As non-formal educational providers, the partners share the experiences of cooperative views and approaches to education, which we understand as plus for the analysis as it provides an external view to formal education.

The ENGAGE project occurs simultaneously on two levels - European and national - and is structured along three phases for a total duration of 30 months from September 2014 to December 2016.

European cooperation on the issue of citizenship education is justified for several reasons:

  • European societies share the principles of democracy and the rule of law, which allows for a common approach to citizenship education.

  • citizenship education, encompassing both the themes of living together and democratic participation, experiences similar developments and challenges throughout Europe: an often stated decline in the interest of young people in politics, both nationally and European

  • societal developments such as European integration, migration flows, the aging of population, a vital labour market crisis accompanied by high rates of youth unemployment, an ongoing financial crisis, which highly affect the perspectives of children and youth, but also contribute to further develop and revise conditions to citizenship educational approaches, policies and concepts.

The worrying situation in Europe – anti-democratic developments all over - make it even more relevant to cooperate on these issues because the challenge of living together is intrinsic to the European project. In the context of the rise of extremism, intolerance, racism and xenophobia across the EU (and beyond), working together, in a transnational and genuinely European perspective provides value and stands for the idea that cooperation leads to better results.

The project “ENGAGE” aims to cooperate and share good practices between different European partners, in a specific field, citizenship education with kids aged 8 - 12, which varies greatly among the Member States for a bundle of reasons (cultural, historical, sociological etc).

In some countries CE is perceived as a subject to schools only, while in other countries we realize that a broad spectrum of providers of education is active supporting children with spaces, instruments and concepts to learn democracy and human rights. Regards school some partner countries teach citizen education as a separate subject while others do it across subjects.

According to the Euridyce reports, some teach it from primary school through to secondary school, other do so only in secondary school. Finally, the total duration is also variable: twelve years in France, six in Poland, four in Spain, etc. However it would be a big mistake to believe that quantity on paper allows for conclusions on the quality and impact of the pedagogy, as learning democracy goes far beyond the classroom and the curricula.

Despite this diversity of approaches European societies face similar challenges which need new concpets approaches and answers. By identifying similar developments, needs, barriers and success conditions the project provides a broader view on all sectors involved in educational work with children aged 8-12 than current studies do.

ENGAGE further aims to support educators, teachers, trainers who participate in the project - during and after its completion – by recommending specific tools and practices to address the rich and multi-faceted subject that is citizenship education. Such the project provides a material compendium recommending and introducing specific approaches and educational modules that have been tested by the partners and seem to be useful (Volume II).

Volume I
[pdf, 2,6 MB] compiles the conceptual researches on CE provisions for children aged 8-12 conducted in 6 countries. The analyses try to identify common key findings and formulate concrete policy recommendations to be applied in order to advance the situation on the ground.

Without going too much into detail it is surprising how similar key barriers and development needs are – regardless from the quite diverse policy back-up and set-up of CE with children aged 8-12 in the 6 countries.

Each country analysis is accompanied by an empirical research based on interviews with educators and educational experts, aiming at identifying needs, findings, and introducing practice from the field of concrete educational work applied on the ground – be it in the context of schools, of non-formal education, or in the wider field of children and youth support mechanisms such as youth work and other structures.

Finally the publication recommends existing educational practice, resources and materials developed on both national and European level, which are worth studying.

During the project we learned that in a European context we need to take into account the momentum of asynchronity, in a sense that the development of educational concepts and policies relates highly to country specific societal, economic, political conditions – citizenship education with children is always subject to power politics. For our study this means approaches that seem to be innovative in one country are out of date in others, topics high on the agenda in some countries did not even enter the debates in others.

Such it becomes difficult to make a fair judgment, because one needs to take into account the state of affairs of mechanisms and developments that differ from country to country. Without subordinating them in an order of best or worst practice, we choose an approach that puts at the heart of the perspective the European reference frames and instruments: Such we provided guidance by introducing existing European policy frames relevant for educational, for children and youth policies in Europe. If at all - the national findings can be measured in their relevance to contributing these European goals.

In order to come to concrete conclusions we encourage you to carefully study the national reports as they might give an idea on how things could be done, or how better not. Enabling children to learn and practice democracy is an aim that goes far beyond formalized learning settings and its success conditions depend on a complex arrangement of support mechanisms, pedagogical approaches, on a holistic view on education and children and youth policies who put the children at the heart of the agenda and of the processes. To work out winning conditions for these aims in fact means to go a long way on all levels.

 
 

 

                                         
   
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The project ENGAGE has been funded with support from the EU-ERASMUS+ programme |2014-1-FR01-KA200-008747|. This publication reflects the views of the authors only and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.