Colloquy on: “European Culture: Identity and Diversity”
8-9 September 2005
Contribution by Mr CÚsar Birzea
Education for citizenship has been one of the Council of Europe’s flagship activities, particularly since the nineteen-nineties. The project has been divided into three separate stages:
a. From 1997 to 2000 attention was focused on establishing EDC as the ultimate aim of educational policies. It therefore concerns the education system as a whole and not just a single school subject (civic education). It follows that all the components of the education system (the curriculum, management, non-formal education and teacher training) must provide the necessary support for the teaching of democracy. The desire to make EDC the ultimate objective was taken into account in two political documents at the European level: the Declaration of the Krakow Ministerial Conference (October 2000) and a Committee of Ministers resolution.
b. From 2000 to 2004, the main activity was a European survey on progress toward the ultimate aim of educational policies. The main conclusion was that there was a compliance gap between statements of intention and practical measures or, more exactly, between the texts adopted at the political level and what was happening in practice.
c. The third stage, the European Year of Citizenship through Education, is a direct response to the conclusions of the European survey. The underlying idea of the European Year (2005) is to encourage practitioners and public authorities to work out suitable ways of fostering citizenship through education and to provide practical support. To this end, the team responsible for co-ordinating the Year (the CAHCIT and the Secretariat) has prepared a set of educational tools (the “EDC pack”) for direct use by practitioners. These tools are comprised of a handbook on quality assurance and self-evaluation for schools (for the attention of head teachers and school administrators), a compilation of teacher training methods (which encourages school-based teacher training) and a methodological guide to non-formal education (designed particularly with youth trainers and civil society in mind). These tools are based on three principles of EDC, which are participation, the management of diversity, and the direct exercise of rights and responsibilities.