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 Diversity of Citizenship Education Provision in the Commonwealth

Citizenship education across the Commonwealth shows considerable diversity, as might be expected given the significant differences in the member states. Given that all education has civic implications – whether or not these are made explicit – to provide a comprehensive review of the effects of schools and education systems on citizenship would be a considerable undertaking. Instead, this section will focus on conscious attempts to promote various forms of citizenship via the curriculum, whether through taught subjects or other educational experiences. In this, it will focus primarily on government initiatives within formal schooling – as these are the initiatives that the Commonwealth Secretariat can influence most directly – although it will also cover some work undertaken by community and non-governmental organisations, and non-formal contexts. Instead of attempting a comprehensive coverage of countries, this review presents some snapshots of policy and practice from around the world, so as to highlight the key dynamics and trends.


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