Address: Rua Cidade de Benguela

Country: Portugal

 School website

Project: EçaNews – from students to students


Working language during the project:

  • Portuguese

Themes of the Council of Europe project “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:

  • Making children’s and students’ voices heard
  • Addressing controversial issues
  • Dealing with propaganda, misinformation and fake news
  • Improving well-being at school

Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:

  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the world (including politics, law, human rights, culture, cultures, religions, history, media, economies, the environment and sustainability)
    Students have to interpret, analyse, synthesise and think critically at all stages of the project. The need to understand at a meta-cognitive level prior to publishing the news is the key to elevating their critical thinking skills.
  • Responsibility
    This digital journal will be managed entirely by students. As they have to make substantive decisions, the responsibility skill is going to be present on each step of the way.
  • Co-operation skills
    The students will be able to build stronger relationships between their peers to achieve the group goals. Collaboration and cooperation are skills that have to be.

Target group age range:

  • 5 - 11
  • 11 - 15
  • 15 - 19

Level of education:

  • Primary education
  • Lower secondary education
  • Upper secondary education

Short description of the project:

The EçaNews is a digital journal created by students for the students. They are the top decision makers, the journalists and readers all at the same time, that means, all the students can contribute to this common project.

This is one of the projects resulting from a wider 21st Century Design Learning Programme that the Eça Queirós School Cluster is implementing for the following 3 years. This wider programme, called “Transformar@Sec.XXI” has the goal to transform the cluster into an Anytime, Anywhere Learning environment, and is looking to change the education of 2.000 students and 200 educators into an innovative and democratic school cluster.

The changing and media context that we live in provided some difficulties which the cluster is trying to change into opportunities. Using an online collaborative platform for the past 6 months, where board members, teachers, staff and students come together with ease, the EçaNews is a tool for taking stock of these opportunities.

A group of teachers will start the project by picking the students to participate. From there they will only serve as guidance. Students will therefore have full responsibility for their decisions and actions, resulting in a real-life situation that they have to tackle, gathering individual expertise to turn themselves into a coherent group of individuals for achieving the same goal.

The main goals of the EçaNews are to provide the students with the critical thinking skills on all matters related to the school, the various personal and group opinions, to engage in global topics such as educational information to climate change, religion, personal differences, democratic issues, and so on. They have to find evidence for their statements, e.g. news, become aware of different points of views, and also improve their communications skills.

This project will also contribute to their sense of belonging, indeed, the EçaNews is a student-only project. Having all the student as contributors, from all levels of education will enhance the level of difficulty of the project and ensure the students each have different visions, thus showing them new ways to see the world. Since they must take substantive decisions with regard to the journal they will have to work in groups, where they have to find consensus in all decisions, enhancing their collaborative skills. Since there are no grades, nor high or low-stakes assessments related to this project, no one will be obliged to contribute, it is expected that some kind of self-regulatory skills will appear naturally within the students.

Finally, the EçaNews project is a 3-year programme that will engage all the 2.000 student of the 3 schools belonging to the cluster; they will be committed to an exclusive-student project, with the ups and downs of a real-life situation. The teacher will only be there to help them find themselves as democratic citizens.


  • Students have to achieve at least basic and intermediate CDC key descriptors in knowledge and critical understanding of the world, responsibility and cooperation skills
  • Students have to be proficient in media literacy skills, knowing how to gather and understand different opinions, differentiate right from wrong perspectives, be aware about a source’s credibility and copyright issues, and contribute to a better digital citizenship of the school cluster
  • Students have to work individually, in small groups and with larger groups, making their opinions heard as well as listening carefully to others, trying not to judge but to understand

Expected results/outcomes

  • Students have the ability to mobilize values, attitudes, skills and knowledge in order to become active citizens in a democratic society.


  • By the end of the first year the students know what is needed from a behavioural point of view to be a citizen in a democratic society.
  • By the end of the second year the students can actually influence others in order to be citizens of the world.
  • By the end of the project in 2023, the students already understand with clarity that everyone, mainly their fellow students, have their own status in the world, respect themselves and others, making responsible decisions based on that knowledge.

Challenges you faced

  • Having the necessary resources as rooms equipped with computers and wideband internet, and access to scientific articles and studies
  • Publicising the project to the entire education community
  • Teachers’ lack of information and training regarding the digital transformation and the CDC framework

Time-frame of the project:

3 year project from October 2020 until July 2023

Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:

  • Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture