Thursday, 15 July 2010

International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICSS) - Report on initial findings

International Civic and Citizenship Education Study
The 2009 IEA study of civic and citizenship education (ICCS) investigated the ways in which young people are prepared to undertake their roles as citizens in modern societies. It reports on student knowledge and understanding of civics and citizenship as well as student attitudes, perceptions and activities related to civics and citizenship.

The report from ICCS is based on data from more than 140,000 students in more than 5,000 schools from 38 countries. These data are augmented by data from more than 62,000 teachers in those schools and further contextual data collected from school principals and national research centers.

-->get the Initial Findings for download.

The report is an important reference document for EDC/HRE, but once again shows the urgency to go for more reseach in the field of non-formsal educational settings.

Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion: Textbook for NGO practitioners published online

The conference "Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe through Education for Democratic Citizenship / Human Rights Education” was jointly organised by BEMIS (Black and Ethnic Minorities Infrastructure in Scotland) and DARE (Democracy and Human Rights Education in Adult Learning). More than 170 participants gathered in Glasgow (March 3-5, 2010) for exchange and discussions.

The conference textbook is now published online, offering a selection of case studies, best practices and research reports throughout Europe. Special emphasis was put on case studies from Scottish local communities, in order to explore the link between local initiatives and European issues and vice versa.

Download the full textbook here!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Tackling Poverty - Scottish Government takes on DARE´s policy recommendations


The Scottish Government took on DARE´s policy recommendations on tackling poverty and social exclusion and subsequently published a learning point on Democratic Citizenship and Poverty. This is a good reference point for DARE´s impact on the relevant national/regional level of policy making.

Get the document as pdf:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/regeneration/pir/learningnetworks/cr/publications/LearningPoint70Citizenpdf

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

European Commission and Council of Europe kick off joint talks on EU's accession to the Convention on Human Rights

Strasbourg, 07.07.2010 - Official talks started today on the European Union's accession to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, marked the beginning of this joint process at a meeting in Strasbourg. They discussed how to move the process forward so that citizens can swiftly benefit from stronger and more coherent fundamental rights protection in Europe.

“Today is a truly historic moment. We are now putting in place the missing link in Europe's system of fundamental rights protection, guaranteeing coherence between the approaches of the Council of Europe and the European Union," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "The EU has an important role to play in further strengthening the Convention's system of fundamental rights. We already have our own Charter of Fundamental Rights, which represents the most modern codification of fundamental rights in the world. This is a very good precondition for a successful meeting of the minds between the negotiation partners."

“The European Convention on Human Rights is the essential reference for human rights protection for all of Europe. By accepting to submit the work of its institutions to the same human rights rules and the same scrutiny which apply to all European democracies, the European Union is sending a very powerful message – that Europe is changing – and that the most influential and the most powerful are ready to accept their part of responsibility for that change and in that change,” said Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

The EU's accession to the ECHR will place the EU on the same footing as its Member States with regard to the system of fundamental rights protection supervised by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It will allow for the EU's voice to be heard when cases come before the Strasbourg Court. With accession, the EU would become the 48th signatory of the ECHR. The EU would have its own judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Accession will also provide a new possibility of remedies for individuals. They will be able to bring complaints – after they have exhausted domestic remedies – about the alleged violation of fundamental rights by the EU before the European Court of Human Rights.

Background


The EU’s accession to the ECHR is required under Article 6 of the Lisbon Treaty and foreseen by Article 59 of the ECHR as amended by the Protocol 14.

On 17 March, the Commission proposed negotiation Directives for the EU's accession to the ECHR (IP/10/291). On 4 June, EU Justice Ministers gave the Commission the mandate to conduct the negotiations on their behalf. On 26 May, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe gave an ad-hoc mandate to its Steering Committee for Human Rights to elaborate with the EU the necessary legal instrument for the EU’s accession to the ECHR.

Next steps

As of today, negotiators from the Commission and experts from the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights will meet regularly to work on the accession agreement. At the end of the process, the agreement on accession shall be concluded by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and unanimously by the Council of the EU. The European Parliament, which has to be fully informed of all stages of the negotiations, must also give its consent. After the agreement is concluded, it will have to be ratified by all 47 contracting parties to the ECHR in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, including by those who are also EU Member States. Both sides are committed to a smooth and swift conclusion of the talks, allowing the accession to take place as early as possible.

For more information :

Homepage of Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Homepage of Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Council of Europe:
Giuseppe Zaffuto: +33 3 90 21 56 04
giuseppe.zaffuto@coe.int

European Commission:
Matthew Newman: +32 2 296 24 06
Mina Andreeva: +32 2 299 13 82

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11

Monday, 5 July 2010

DARE General Assembly accepts EDC/HRE key players as new members

At DARE´s General Assembly on 3rd July 2010 in Vilnius 7 new member organisations joined the DARE network. For a strong commitment of Europe for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education strong NGO´s are evidently needed. The DARE network is proud to welcome again further key organisations from various levels of NGO work as new members!
Turkey:
Kıbrıslı Türk İnsan Hakları Vakfı - Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation,
Italy: VIS – VOLONTARIO INTERNAZIONALE PER LO SVILUPPO – International Volunteers for Development,
Norway: MENNESKERETTIGHETSAKADEMIET – Human Rights Academy,
Bulgaria:
Българска мрежа за обучение по човешки права - Bulgarian Network for Human Rights Education,
EU: The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA),
Austria: Zentrum für Friedensforschung und Friedenspädagogik – Centree for Peace Research and Peace Education,
Bosnia & Hercegovina: Udruzenje Grazdanski Eduaktivni Centar – Association Citizen´s Educational Center.
We look forward for the future cooperation in the growing DARE community and are glad for the strong support!

Policy Recommendations: Assessment Strategies in Non-Formal EDC/HRE (2010)

At DARE´s Focus Meeting “Citizenship Reloaded: The Demand for `Active Citizenship´ in Europe and its Implications for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE)" in Vilnius/Lithuania, July 1-3, 2010, stakeholders from 16 European countries trained, tested and explored models of competence assessment and discussed in how Qualification frames as the EQF/NQF´s are compatible to the work of EDC/HRE in adult learning. In his opening speech, the Lithuanian Minister for Education, Gintaras Steponavicius, stressed the important role of NGOs and diverse non-formal approaches and emphasized that “we should not seek a uniform approach to EDC/HRE”. The following policy statement on “Assessment and Validation Strategies in Non-Formal EDC/HRE” was drafted by the conference participants.

Policy Recommendations: Assessment Strategies in Non-Formal EDC/HRE

a) Recommendations to NGOs

All stakeholders – including learners and non-formal educators – have to be involved in the development of assessment strategies in non-formal EDC/HRE. These strategies have to distinguish between accreditation (of an institution or a single course) and validation within the learners´ environment.
Formal, non-formal and informal education are complementary forms of education and mutually reinforcing elements of a lifelong learning process. Accredited and non-accredited HRE/EDC activities each have their own value. All these diverse options should thus be available to learners.
Monitoring, evaluation, self-evaluation and quality assurance are important for providers of non-formal EDC/HRE in order to deliver services of a certain quality level and to ensure the protection of learners.

b) Recommendations for policy makers:

All possible outcomes/impacts of non-formal EDC/HRE activities have to be taken into account to meet the standards provided by the National Qualification Frameworks (NQFs). The EU is asked to provide sufficient opportunities for NGOs to discuss experiences and practices with the NQFs and the assessment of skills and competences acquired through EDC/HRE. Institutional empowerment is needed for those NGOs offering low-threshold non-formal and informal learning opportunities in EDC/HRE.
Validation and assessment of non-formal learning has to follow the logic of non-formal learning processes. In this regard we ask the EU to promote the development and implementation of learning process oriented around validation and assessment systems, as these appear appropriate for dealing with non-formal and informal learning processes and learners' needs.
The Council of Europe member states are asked to support providers of non-formal EDC/HRE as stated in Section 10 of the recently adopted Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education: “Member states should foster the role of non-governmental organisations and youth organisations in education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, especially in non-formal education. They should recognise these organisations and their activities as a valued part of the educational system, provide them where possible with the support they need and make full use of the expertise they can contribute to all forms of education.”
Education in human rights is itself a fundamental human right: Article 26 of the Preamble to the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “Everyone has the right to education” and ”Education shall be directed [... ] to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.” Additionally, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) declares that a government “may not stand in the way of people learning about [their rights].”
This right to human rights education can only be enjoyed if NGOs are supported as key providers of non-formal EDC/HRE. People who do not know their rights are more vulnerable, more likely to be socially excluded and often lack the language and conceptual framework to effectively advocate for their own rights. Within the framework of the European Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, the UN member states are called on to “foster the role of non-governmental organisations in education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, especially in non-formal education and to recognise these organisations and their activities as a valued part of the educational system” as stated in the CoE Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education.

Active Citizenship Education as Guiding Principle for Lifelong Learning

The DARE Focus Meeting “Citizenship Reloaded: The Demand for `Active Citizenship´ in Europe
and its Implications for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education
(EDC/HRE)" in Vilnius/Lithuania, July 1-3, 2010, offered a forum for stakeholders from 16 European countries to assess and discuss the interrelation of EDC/HR and Active Citizenship within the context of Lifelong Learning.
The following policy recommendations on “Active Citizenship Education as guiding principle for
Future Lifelong Learning” were drafted by the conference participants.

a) Recommendations to Policy Makers

  • Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education must be integral parts of all future European Lifelong Learning policies and activities.

Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE) are the
founding principles of active citizenship. They connect the spheres of individual identity and
civil society by bringing in the dimension of democratic values. These democratic values are
the link to social cohesion in Europe. Active citizenship is an integral part of any
education. Within the development of a future Lifelong Learning programme, the EU needs to
refer to the special importance of learning about Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship for
a cohesive and prosperous Europe.
As part of the public discourse, active citizenship refers not only to political decision making in
democratic societies, but aims to support debate within a society. Legal aspects of citizenship
are important but Active Citizenship in Lifelong Learning is a much broader concept than a just
legal definition of single rights and duties. Within the EU context promoting active citizenship
cannot be reduced to promoting Europe or selected voting rights. A concept of Active
Citizenship Education would be of strong support to the EU´s future strategy, as it is related to
all areas of life and is of crucial importance for a cohesive and prosperous Europe.

  • In light of this moving “citizenship” as policy issue from the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) to the Directorate General for Communication (DG COMM) within the European Commission should be reconsidered.

Moving “citizenship” issues from the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC)
to the Directorate General for Communication (DG COMM) represents a move from a policy
DG to a general services DG. This risks forfeiting educational knowledge and losing
educational providers as the sources of basic skills education. Furthermore, it poses a risk to
social cohesion in a future EU strategy.
It should be especially emphasized that the non-formal educational sector within the field of
Lifelong Learning is the educational field where the EU through European funding programs
has the biggest impact. The European Commission is thus urgently asked to communicate to
what extent the educational goals of Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights as guiding
principles of Active Citizenship will be further addressed in the Lifelong Learning program.

  • Adult Education in a civil society context deserves higher recognition as it has an enormous potential to include learners with limited access to education.

Increasing participation in adult learning is a common goal addressed especially by the EU
Grundtvig programme. Yet the gap between the resources of the EU Lifelong Learning
program provided to citizens with higher education and those without it is set to become wider,
which poses a threat to social cohesion.
The EU stresses the importance of Lifelong Learning and thus the continuous education of
adults. It thus seems vital to provide more funds and support where and whenever possible to
ensure that this sort of learning can take place. People with higher education are not those at
risk of social exclusion in the EU. Therefore, it is of importance to allocate more funds to adult
learning programs such as Grundtvig, which addresses all learners.
European learners also need different programmes and trainings. It is up to NGOs to provide
this diversity of learning options. Non-formal approaches open up new perspectives for
learners, and as such they should gain higher recognition within EU policies. Furthermore,
they should not be reduced solely to their contribution to the labour market.
We should not look for a uniform approach in EDC/HRE. Especially in times where our school
systems face structural overload from ongoing reforms, we ask that the political sector in
Europe put more trust and more support in the non-governmental sector.

  • All bodies within the EU are asked to operate in a future Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus+) with all Lifelong Learning key competences on the same level. 

Especially those competences which for now lack indicators may contribute most to a cohesive and prosperous Europe. In the future Lifelong Learning Programme the EU is thus asked to answer the needs of how to further operate with the LLL key competences of “social and civic skills”, the “learning to learn” competences and the key competences of “cultural awareness and expression”.
All bodies within the European Union are asked to support the development of monitoring
and evaluation mechanisms in form of a national EDC/HRE policy review.
The European Union is asked to adopt the Council of Europe Charter on Education for
Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education when joining the European
Convention on Human Rights. Even if non-binding, the Charter sets a standard that the EU
should uphold.

  • The European Commission is urgently asked to pay more attention to the strategic implementation of Education for Active Citizenship within the development of all future strategies for Lifelong Learning. 

The role of NGOs in education needs to be better addressed by the EC.
Especially the coming Hungarian Presidency is asked to push the Council of Ministers to
adopt a Council Conclusion an Education for Active Citizenship.
The European Parliament is asked to finally make the DROI Committee to a full Committee
to be able to monitor and substantially contribute to all policies related to fundamental rights
and citizenship within the EU.
The Member States should be clearer about their role within the EU and the Council of
Europe. Especially in terms of Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights
Education, we as providers of education have the impression that the left hand does not know
what the right hand is doing.
The Member States of the EU and the COE are asked to implement policies supporting
Education for Active Citizenship.
We strongly support the EU Fundamental Rights Agency's (FRA) analysis that Human
Rights Education needs to be paid more attention especially within the logic of the funding
programs of the European Union.

Nevertheless the Fundamental Rights Agency is urgently asked to build its Human Rights
Education strategy on the foundation of the work done by the Council of Europe. The FRA is
especially asked to pay more attention on the interrelation of the fields of Education for
Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education and the level of quality that the field has
achieved within the COE by gathering under one roof.

b) Recommendations to NGOs

  • NGOs as providers of non-formal education should better monitor the EDC/HRE policies of EU Member States within the EU and Council of Europe contexts.
  • NGOs should follow up and review on the national level the work of the bodies responsible for the implementation of the World Program for Human Rights Education.
  • NGOs should engage on the national level with the bodies/persons working with the COE in the EDC/HRE context. NGOs especially should try to follow up on the Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education as it promotes their importance within any system of education. EDC/HRE providers should concentrate on equal access for learners. Non-formal education especially enables the addressing of non- academic audiences; NGOs should therefore be keen to set their focus on targeting people outside the academic sphere.

  • DARE should partner with the Fundamental Rights Agency. Legitimized through its strong membership base, DARE should do more than just follow up on the agency's policies.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

DARE Video 5: Yulia Pererva (CoE) on the relevance of the EDC/HRE Charter for NGOs

At the DARE Focus Meeting “Citizenship Reloaded: The Demand for `Active Citizenship´ in Europe and its Implications for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE)" in Vilnius/Lithuania, July 1-3, 2010, 37 stakeholders from 16 European countries explored challenges for EDC/HRE under rapidly changing European policy frames.

Yulia Pererva (Council of Europe, Division on Citizenship and Human Rights Education) stressed the importance of the recently adopted CoE Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education, which states in section 10: “Member states should foster the role of non-governmental organisations and youth organisations in education for democratic citizenship and human rights education, especially in non-formal education. They should recognise these organisations and their activities as a valued part of the educational system, provide them where possible with the support they need and make full use of the expertise they can contribute to all forms of education.”



For more information on the focus meeting “Citizenship Reloaded: The Demand for `Active Citizenship´ in Europe and its Implications for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE)", check www.dare-network.eu

Check the full DARE video library here!

DARE Video 1-4: DARE Conference Nov 2008 on Intercultural Dialogue, interviews with participants, part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4

DARE Video 6: Niamh O´Reilly (AONTAS) explains how the Irish National Qualification Framework embraces non-formal education, and how that might ultimately lead to obtaining a PHD degree without ever having participated in the formal education systems.

DARE Video 7: Frank Elbers (HREA) on elements of the drafting process of the recently adopted Council of Europe “Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education” and its importance as a lobbying tool for NGOs.

DARE Video 8: Gintaras Stepanovicius, Lithuanian Minister of Education on the relevance of Human Rights Education and Education for Democratic Citizenship, the key role of NGOs, and the importance of non-uniform approaches in formal and non-formal education.

DARE Video 9: Britta Lejon (EAEA) explains the challenges of the Europe 2020 program for adult education, and points out that adult education is a part of the solution of the current crisis.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Citizenship Reloaded: DARE Focus Meeting and Policy Recommendations

The DARE Focus Meeting “Citizenship Reloaded: The Demand for `Active Citizenship´ in Europe and its Implications for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education (EDC/HRE)" in Vilnius/Lithuania, July 1-3, 2010, brought together 37 stakeholders from 16 European countries. They explored challenges for EDC/HRE under rapidly changing European policy frames, such as the European and national qualification frameworks and their implications for non-formal EDC/HRE.

In his opening speech, the Lithuanian Minister for Education, Gintaras Steponavicius, stressed the link between history education and HRE/EDC and reminded the audience that in the Soviet Union “education was directed to kill normal citizenship feelings”. He stressed the important role of NGOs and diverse non-formal approaches and emphasized “we should not seek a uniform approach to EDC/HRE”.

Special attention was given to the recently adopted Council of Europe´s Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education and the future potential of this non-binding document to supporting the work of NGOs (as outlined in section II.5 of the charter).

Policy recommendations on “Validation and Assessment in Non-Formal EDC/HRE” and “The Impact of Active Citizenship on HRE/EDC” were drafted and will be published soon.

More information at www.dare-network.eu