Citizenship education in national curricula

Briefing 13-11-2023

Citizenship education has become an education policy priority at EU level. The goal is to enable young people to develop self-awareness as members of a social group, and then possibly play a role and become active citizens at local, national or EU level. Similarly, the EU Member States have been placing a stronger focus on the teaching of values such as democracy and tolerance in their national educational policies, although this is not yet translating into practice in a systematic way. School curricula reflect educational policy priorities; the nature, scope and time dedicated within those curricula to citizenship education indicate where citizenship education stands among those priorities. Based on broad EU research and a study, this briefing first examines how EU programmes tackle citizenship education, what the European dimension is, and what place active citizenship occupies in the current 2021-2027 programming period. The briefing then offers an overview of citizenship education in the national curricula of five EU Member States, for the purpose of comparing them with the previous state of play and identifying best practice. All five Member States examined offer multifaceted citizenship education, focusing, among other things, on the EU's functions, integration process and core values, while taking into account new global challenges. Teaching methods often combine the acquisition of knowledge, competences and skills from an early age. EU programmes support this approach by targeting all EU citizens and by fostering lifelong learning through non-formal and formal educational activities. However, as pointed out in recent studies, there are perennial challenges in implementing a consistent and meaningful educational policy on citizenship in its various dimensions. Citizenship education is about establishing common values, and fostering certain behaviour and attitudes, both locally and in the EU, but this is not done consistently across the EU. For instance, some Member States give precedence to the national dimension of citizenship over the European one, while in others the implementation of policies is still slow. It is therefore important to monitor and evaluate measures taken by Member States to foster citizenship education and support its implementation. The Commission has indicated that it intends to include transversal skills, such as citizenship education and civic skills, in future editions of the Education and Training Monitor.