Why is citizenship education important?
Citizenship education gives people the knowledge and skills to understand, challenge and engage with democratic society including politics, the media, civil society, the economy and the law.
Democracies need active, informed and responsible citizens – citizens who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves and their communities and contribute to the political process.
How does it benefit young people?
It helps them to develop self-confidence and a sense of agency, and successfully deal with life changes and challenges such as bullying and discrimination.
It gives them a voice: in the life of their schools, their communities and society at large.
It enables them to make a positive contribution by developing the knowledge and experience needed to claim their rights and understand their responsibilities. It prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of adult and working life.
Who else does it benefit?
Citizenship also brings benefits for schools, other educational organisations and for society at large.
For schools and other educational organisations, it helps to produce motivated and responsible learners, who relate positively to each other, to staff and to the surrounding community. For society it helps to create an active and responsible citizenry, willing to participate in the life of the nation and the wider world and play its part in the democratic process.
One of the first steps on the civic journey is the education system. Education should help young people become active citizens once they understand their role within society and how they can go about improving it.
The Ties that Bind – House of Lords Report on Citizenship, 2018
Society belongs to all of us. What we put into it creates what we get out of it.
At Young Citizens, we believe society is best when we all join in. That is, when we all bring our energy and judgment to it. This helps make it fairer and more inclusive. It supports a democracy in which people participate and belong. We have countless examples of how even the youngest can make a difference.
But it means we all need enough knowledge, skills and confidence to take part effectively.
We want everyone to feel they belong. And we want everyone to feel they can drive change.
The European Commission supports the following definition of active citizenship:
‘Participation in civil society, community and/or political life, characterised by mutual respect and non-violence and in accordance with human rights and democracy’
So let’s make this a reality. Let’s help people become effective citizens. The cost is much greater if we don’t.