Figure 1. EU citizenship key competence framework
Citizenship as a notion has been linked over the years to privileges deriving from or connected with the membership in a particular political/social community. In this community, those who enjoy a certain status are entitled to equally participate with their fellow citizens in making the collective decisions that regulate social life (Bellamy, 2008). Every community has developed common–sense understandings of who belongs to it or not (Cesarani & Fulbrook, 2003). However the necessary qualities which characterize an individual as a citizen have not been the same in all cases. For example, in Ancient Greece equality of citizens as rulers or law-makers was the central pillar of citizenship, connecting it with race and class. Equality under the law provided legal status and introduced a member state aspect to citizenship, in Rome (Bellamy, 2008). As the nation states arose, the notion of citizenship gradually shifted from the kingship primacy understanding to a definition based on common ideas and the right to reside in the country of birth (Cesarini and Fulbrook, 2003). The ethnic revitalization movements (1960s - 70s) led to equality and structural inclusion. Furthermore, over the past decades, international migration has raised different questions directly related with the concepts of citizenship and citizenship education.
Thus, citizenship becomes even more complex to define within the EU context. But, overall the notion of citizenship entails a set of rights, obligations, rules and possibilities which support the sustainability of a rather diverse community, allowing interconnection, interdependence and interaction.
Nowadays, Citizenship Education (CE) is a core aim of many modern societies and thus it has been integrated in their official curricula (Eurydice, 2012). Extending the general scope of Education for preparing the student to become a useful future citizen, CE extends knowledge, skills (social, intellectual, technological), attitudes (respect for cultural and political diversity, respect for rational argument, interest in community affairs) and values (democracy justice, rule of law) and stimulates participation (Ruud, 1997; EU, 2006). Within the EU member states, mainly a mix of interdisciplinary and discipline integrated approaches are followed, enhanced by the facilitation of students’ active participation inside and outside school. Generally, citizenship curricula cover a wide and very comprehensive range of topics, addressing the fundamental principles of democratic societies, contemporary societal issues, as well as the European and international dimensions (Eurydice, 2012).
Examining all the aforementioned approaches and following the contemporary EU-proposed approach of examining a competence as a set of knowledge, skills and attributes, the consortium designed a framework for the EU citizenship key competences (Figure 1). Moreover, the 21st century skill-set was taken into account. Considering that CE has shifted from rights and duties to values which active citizens should acquire, such as respect of the others, sense of responsibility, caring about the others, social justice and cooperation (Wing on Lee, 2012), it should allow a holistic focus on students’ learning by keeping up with UNESCO’s four pillars of: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together. Also, it should match learners’ interests to current social, political, environmental and economic affairs (UNESCO, 2014). More details can be found in the official report created by the WeAreEurope consortium (http://wreurope.eu/).
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein