Agrupamento de Escolas de Caneças
Address: Rua da Guiné - Bairro dos CTT, 1675-468 Caneças
Project: Digital Citizenship Education for Democratic Participation
Working language during the project:
Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:
- Making children’s and students’ voices heard
- Addressing controversial issues
- Preventing violence and bullying
- Dealing with propaganda, misinformation and fake news
- Tackling discrimination
- Improving well-being at school
Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:
- Linguistic, communicative and plurilingual skills and Knowledge and critical understanding of language and communication
Through the production of a school newspaper (printed since 2016, and online in 2020), and the production of TV news services (since 2018)
- Knowledge and critical understanding of the world: politics, law, human rights, culture, cultures, religions, history, media, economies, environment, sustainability
Apart from communication, the project is now focused on problem-based learning through STEAM activities (focused on preschool children). Developed activities aimed building multiple literacies, citizenship, analytical and critical thinking, resilience and creative thinking.
- Co-operation skills
Activities (planned by teachers and researchers, having in mind the children interests) involve school staff, parents, other relatives and members/entities from the local community.
Target group age range:
- 5 - 11
Level of education:
- Primary education & Preschool education
Short description of the project:
The project Digital Citizenship Education for Democratic Participation (‘Educação para a Cidadania Digital e Participação Democrática’) began in 2015, and currently involves around 200 kindergarten and primary school children, their families, teachers and other members of the Caneças educational community, a neighbourhood in Odivelas, Lisbon. The project’s methodology is action research, its objective is to understand how a coordinated action by a school, families and the community contributes to enabling 3- to 9-year old children to become active digital citizens.
From 2015 to 2018, at the field level, the project was organised in five phases:
- Production and validation of data collection instruments (2015);
- In-service teacher training course in Digital Citizenship Education (Jan-Feb 2016);
- Longitudinal study with teachers who volunteered after the training course (Mar 2016-Feb 2018);
- Data collection from parents, children and out-of-school entities (Apr-Jun 2016);
- Share results with participants and involve them on a digital citizenship education intervention plan (Sep 2016-Feb 2018).
Between January and February 2016, the researchers conducted a training course for the teachers on using media to organise and implement social participation activities, involving pupils, families and the community.Afterwards, eight teachers in a school in Caneças, attended by about 200 kindergarten and primary school pupils, accepted to be part of a community intervention project. Researchers characterize this context so as to define an intervention strategy.
In September 2016, at a meeting between lecturers and researchers, it was decided to create a printed school newspaper with four main goals in mind: i) reinforce the link between the school, the families and the community; ii) ensure that children have the opportunity to express their opinion through the media; iii) reinforce their critical sense in relation to the media and to social issues; iv) foster democracy at school and in the community.
Aware of the contradiction of having a project on Education for Media Citizenship based on traditional printed media, the project team nevertheless decided to implement the project, as this was the only way to overcome the limitations of its context. The first step was to select the name and logo for the newspaper by means of a contest, open to all pupils. The name most voted was ‘O Cusco’ (The Busybody). The first edition was published in December 2016, and the next (8th) edition will be published in December 2020.
It had two main outcomes. On the one hand, it increased children’s participation and social intervention, thus contributing to the development of their citizenship skills. On the other, it became a sustainable project, taken on by the school, which has continued to develop digital citizenship skills, by continuing to publish the school newspaper, nowadays considered the newspaper of the school and educational community, where it is distributed for free.
Children’s social participation has increased in and outside the school, in collaboration with the teachers, the families and the community. According to the teachers’ perceptions, interaction in formal, non-formal and informal contexts has contributed to shaping the children’s practices as citizens. However, they participate mostly through traditional printed media, which has gradually changed to digital media, with the production of a video news broadcast.
This situation can be explained due to the lack of equipment and to teachers’ limited skills in digital media production. To overcome this problem, a new phase (Oct 2019 – Sept 2022), funded by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, is being implemented, aiming to develop STEAM activities, to implement the online newspaper edition and the production of TV News services. It involves the local government, the school grouping and a private university in Lisbon.
The project’s main objective was to understand how coordinated action by a school, families and the community, contributes to enabling 3 to 9-year-old children to become active digital citizens. It also aimed to contribute to identifying best practices in all contexts, to influence public policies, and to integrate digital citizenship education in the curricula. Finally, it was intended to be replicable in Portugal or abroad.
Objectives of the new phase (2019-2022) are focused on the development of competences related to communication and problem solving.
Empowering digital citizens at preschool and primary school levels and involving the local community, implementing a “whole school approach” strategy.
Children’s social participation has increased in and outside the school, in collaboration with the teachers, the families and the community. According to the teachers’ perceptions, interaction in formal, non-formal and informal contexts has contributed to shaping the children’s practices as citizens.
Challenges you faced
Therefore, although adults and children are active and frequent users of digital media, this does not mean that they are ready to produce (more complex forms of) media content. Even when producing material for traditional media, for the newspaper to become a reality, it was crucial that the intervention methodology was action research, with support given to the teachers by the researchers. This is evidence that these kinds of projects must include frequent and significant support provided to the schools or institutions they are being developed in.
The projects must also have the support of the Group’s School board (Agrupamento de Escolas), which was essential in this case. At least one teacher must coordinate the project in the school (in this case, it was the school coordinator) and, if possible, one media professional should be included, who can assist teachers and pupils in producing media content, as was the case in this project. Moreover, this project is not complete, as a second stage is necessary that will involve more researchers and media professionals who can train children to deconstruct and analyse media content, as well as produce content with consideration given to the adequacy of the techniques and ethical and deontological aspects.
Time-frame of the project:
Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:
- Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture