Building peace in the minds of men and women

Eurydice Report pinpoints big gaps in citizenship teacher education for European schools

28 May 2018

Teachers generally responsible for teaching citizenship education in general secondary education and school-based IVET (ISCED 2-3), 2016/17


A European Commission report reveals significant differences between European countries’ government policies and recommendations affecting the implementation of citizenship education in schools.


The Eurydice Report, Citizenship Education at School in Europe 2017, published in October 2017, offers a comprehensive study of national policies regarding citizenship education in schools across Europe. It includes policy analysis of 28 European Union Member States and 8 candidate countries from the European Economic Area.


The report reveals, that despite progress in recent years, nearly half of the countries still have no regulations or recommendations on the development of prospective teachers' citizenship education competencies through initial teacher education (ITE).


The chapters of the report are designed based on four different aspects of the Global Indicator for SDG4 Target 4.7 on Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education; curriculum organization and content; teachers, learning and active participation; student assessment and school evaluation, and teacher education, professional development and support. Each chapter is followed by four case studies on recent policy initiatives in citizenship education in Belgium (Flemish Community), Estonia, France and Austria. Data for this qualitative report are partly provided by the Eurydice Network, and complemented by academic findings and inputs by the key policy actors.


The Citizenship Education at School in Europe 2017 report includes a key chapter on government policies and recommendations related to ITE in citizenship education. As seen in the map above, in recent years, even if top-level education authorities have increased their efforts in ITE, there are still significant policy gaps in ITE across Europe.


It shows that in the 2010/11 school year, only the United Kingdom specialised in citizenship education through ITE and in 2016/2017, this was available in four more education systems; Belgium (French Community), Ireland, Luxembourg and Netherlands. Since autumn 2017, ITE has also become available for the first time in Denmark. In addition, seven countries train prospective teachers during ITE to become semi-specialists of citizenship education, namely the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Poland and Slovakia.


Through qualitative interviews, education authorities stated that they attempt to ensure that all prospective primary and secondary teachers acquire essential knowledge and competences for teaching citizenship education through ITE. Currently, only nine education systems have defined competencies to be acquired by all teachers which are particularly specific to citizenship education.


Also, while the majority of education authorities organize or support opportunities for teachers' continuing professional development in this area of learning, there are limited opportunities for school heads. Education authorities have also not systematically issued guidelines for teachers on how to assess students in citizenship education. In just over a third of the education systems, there are no central level regulations or recommendations on suitable methods for classroom assessment in this area of learning.


The report finally shows that education authorities give less attention to citizenship education in school-based initial vocational education and training (IVET) in comparison with general education.


As efforts are made worldwide to meet the goals of the Education 2030 Agenda, UNESCO is committed to monitoring progress towards the achievement of Target 4.7, with a focus on Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education. Regular reports, news, analyses, publications and links to data sets produced by UNESCO and its partner provide evidence on that progress.