› “Raise your voice for tomorrow’s Europe” - Forum on education for democratic citizenship with a European dimension
Seminar / Conference
13-16 November 2017 | Ljubljana, Slovenia
The forum gathers various stakeholders in the field of youth to explore relevant policies and practices connected to the education for democratic citizenship with a European dimension, gain new insight on the topic and develop inspiring responses.
The attempt to advance European political integration further beyond intergovernmental cooperation leads to the question, to which extent civic identification and will for collective political action is possible at European level? Do young Europeans have opportunities to become socialized to European citizenship? How do we understand the concept and what are the mechanisms to practice it? Is the European dimension promoted using appropriate pedagogical approaches to citizenship at national level? Further on, what is today the role of youth work in developing young people’s sense of civic engagement for Europe and current European concerns?
The aim of this forum is to promote the European dimension in education for democratic citizenship with young people and contribute to the recognition of European citizenship. The activity will gather various stakeholders –youth work practitioners and youth policy-makers, teachers, educators and activists– from the Erasmus+ Programme Countries and Partner Countries of the Western Balkan region to explore relevant policies and practices in the field, gain new insight on the topic and develop inspiring responses.
Education for democratic citizenship in contemporary Europe -changing baselines:
Citizenship is a notion, which can be hard to grasp entirely. In a mere legal sense, it frames the relationship of an individual and the society through institutionalized memberships and specific rights frameworks. Looking from a broader perspective however, citizenship can be understood as a dynamic practice of societal rights in a sense of civic-mindedness, in which one takes an active role in shaping the society. Citizenship education therefore ideally pursues a learning process, which extends beyond acknowledgement and exercise of particular civic rights and rather aims at learners’ empowerment to govern their lives and influence their surroundings through active participation. In the contemporary European context citizenship education takes a variety of forms, yet democracy remains an underlying value.
Today the conventional understanding of citizenship bound to a state has ceased to be sufficient, as the quest for recognition of universal human rights overlap national borders, and phenomena such as migration question distinct memberships and identities associated to them. “European citizenship” is one of the concepts, which has emerged to depict the global or “cosmopolitan” aspect of citizenship in Europe. The concept was first introduced in the Treaty of Maastricht on European Union in 1992 , in which it referred to the complementary rights of the citizens of European Union member states. Today there is an increasing demand to bridge European citizenship as a passive set or civic rights in the European Union to actual practice of democratic participation in the European civil society. In the field of European youth work and youth policy the concept accordingly functions as an invitation to dialogue and action on political, social and civic matters in the European public sphere, leading also to the understanding of European citizenship beyond the political or geographical borders of the European Union.
Education for democratic citizenship as a means to respond to current challenges in European societies:
The narrative of unified Europe with common values and objectives has for long been a crucial catalyst for integration and social cohesion in Europe. However, following the recent economic and socio-political challenges, the sense of belonging and commitment has begun to unravel, evoking societal instability, political polarization and xenophobia within Europe. Specific policies in the fields of education and youth by the European Union and the Council of Europe aim at responding to these challenges.
The Paris Declaration in 2015 placed citizenship in the focus of the European Union’s education policy, whereas young people’s acquisition of social, civic and intercultural competences through education was stated as one of the primary objectives in combating the contemporary challenges. The importance of citizenship education is accordingly emphasized in the Council Resolution on "Promoting socio-economic development and inclusiveness in the EU through education: the contribution of education and training to the European Semester 2016 ."
The Erasmus+ Programme remains the key instrument of the European Union in the field of education, training and youth in achieving the related policy objectives in the European level, complementing the efforts made by the member states in the national and local levels. Further on, promoting active citizenship, young people’s democratic participation in Europe and gaining of civic and social competences have for long been important elements in the Erasmus+ Programme and its predecessors, in particular in the youth field. Addressing young people’s citizenship effectively however requires synergies across the educational sectors and policies.
Still at the European level, education plays an essential role in the promotion of the core values of the Council of Europe: democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as in the prevention of human rights violations. More generally, education is increasingly seen as a defense against the rise of violence, racism, extremism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance. This growing awareness is reflected in the adoption of the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education by the Organization’s 47 member states in the framework of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)7.
The Charter is an important reference point for all those dealing with citizenship and human rights education. It is also a way of disseminating good practice and raising standards throughout Europe and beyond and it recognizes the role of non-formal education and youth organizations in promoting young people’s active citizenship and human rights. The Charter defines “education for democratic citizenship” as education, training, awareness raising, information, practices and activities which aim, by equipping learners with knowledge, skills and understanding and developing their attitudes and behaviour, to empower them to exercise and defend their democratic rights and responsibilities in society, to value diversity and to play an active part in democratic life, with a view to the promotion and protection of democracy and the rule of law”. The main educational principles underpinning this type of education are: valuing diversity, inclusion, equal chances, respect for human dignity and life in peace.
This Forum will support the promotion and further development of the field of education for democratic citizenship. It will also introduce the training kit developed for practitioners by the partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Commission in the field of youth. Specific focus in the forum will be on exploring the current developments and future perspectives in integrating the European dimension in practices and policies of education for democratic citizenship with young people.
The aim and objectives of the activity:
The aim of the activity is to promote the European dimension in education for democratic citizenship with young people and contribute to the recognition of European citizenship.
The specific objectives are:
- To map out recent trends, developments and policy processes related to the topic of the activity;
- To provide insight and stimulate discussion related to the concept of European citizenship;
- To provide space for exchange of participants’ practices on addressing European dimension in the education for democratic citizenship, in particular through youth work and non-formal education;
- To identify challenges in approaching the European dimension in education for democratic citizenship and showcase inspiring practices and ways to address them;
- To encourage networking, new partnerships and cooperation among participants;
- To advocate for the recognition of the added value of the European dimension in education for democratic citizenship as a tool for addressing current challenges in the European societies.
The activity will gather ca. 50 stakeholders (educators, youth workers, teachers, youth policy makers) from the Erasmus+ Programme Countries and the Partner Countries of the Western Balkans working in the context of education for democratic citizenship with young people. The participants should have:
- Background and competences in promoting, managing or delivering education for democratic citizenship and / or fostering the European citizenship of young people;
- Interest in exploring the topic of education for democratic citizenship with European dimension and the related policies and practices, as well as in discovering and further developing approaches to address connected objectives and challenges;
- Motivation to form networks and establish new partnerships for cooperation in the frame of this thematic area, in particular in the frame of Erasmus+ Programme;
- Ability to communicate and work in English;
- At least 18 years of age.
The activity will be organised in City hotel, which is located in the heart of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.