Citizenship Education in Commonwealth Countries

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Commonwealth countries face a range of significant challenges in contemporary times, relating to conflict, HIV/AIDS, gender inequality, threats to social cohesion and disengagement of young people. The 2007 Civil Paths to Peace report gave education a central role in promoting a ‘respect and understanding’ agenda and responding to these challenges.

This study assesses the role that education – and citizenship education in particular – can play in developing respect and understanding. Citizenship education aims to develop learners’ capacities to participate in the political sphere, and to understand and defend their own rights and the rights of others.

The book outlines the concept of citizenship, its multiple orientations and the complexities of promoting political visions through education. These challenges are further explored through five case studies of Canada, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu, and through examples of best practice from around the Commonwealth and beyond.




The Commonwealth Secretariat launched Civil Paths to Peace, a Report of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding, in 2007. This was the outcome of a mandate given by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their 2005 meeting (CHOGM) held in Malta to look into causes of conflict, violence and extremism in Commonwealth countries. At the 17th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (17CCEM), held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ministers discussed how education could contribute to enhance respect and understanding among its citizens and urged the Secretariat to focus its work on fostering education for Respect and Understanding based on core Commonwealth values, among other priority areas.


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