Citizenship in good shape, according to ICCS report

Immigrant children should have the same opportunities for education as other children, and immigrants should enjoy the same rights as everyone else in their host country. These were just some of the findings in the IEA’s 2016 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) report.

Becoming Citizens in a Changing Worldand the regional European report, Young People’s perceptions of Europe in a Time of Changewere both launched on 7 November in Brussels.

The international report (the second of its kind) investigates the ways in which young people are being prepared to undertake their roles as citizens. It does this by monitoring students’ civic knowledge, civic attitudes, and civic engagement in the context of globalisation, social cohesion and interaction, democracy and active citizenship, new and quickly evolving communication technologies, environment and sustainability, and the global financial crisis.

Global reach

Twenty-four countries across Europe, Asia and Latin America took part in the survey, involving approximately 94,000 students (from Grade 8, 13/14 years old), 3,800 schools and 37,000 teachers. The regional survey offers a more detailed comprehensive view of the issues relating to civic and citizenship education in the European context, and included 52,788 students across 14 countries.

Cause for hope

The findings from both surveys were in many senses a cause for hope. For example, 93 per cent of students in the European survey agreed that immigrant children should have the same opportunities for education as other children; 88 per cent agreed that immigrants should enjoy the same rights as everyone else in the country. Furthermore, 94 per cent of students internationally agreed that women and men should have the same rights in every way. Interestingly, civic knowledge, attitudes and engagement have broadly increased since the first cycle of the international survey in 2009.

Contradictory messages

However, contradictory messages also emerged from the data as a result of diverging findings. For instance, whilst internationally, gender equality seems to be almost unanimously supported, in Mexico, 76 per cent of respondents agreed that women should stay out of politics. Furthermore, it must be kept in mind that young people’s responses to the survey may not necessarily reflect their real views, nor what their views will be in a few years’ time.

Importantly, the ICCS findings demonstrated inequalities: in 21 out of the 24 countries, a student’s socio-economic background was a good predictor of his/her knowledge and engagement. This warrants further investigation as to a possible influence of greater parental engagement in discussions on citizenship issues for advantaged, educational inequalities, or perhaps a class bias in society’s notion of what constitutes “good” citizenship?

Open classroom

Other notable findings from the survey include the fact that an open classroom climate for discussion of political issues was a good predictor for students’ civic knowledge and engagement in 20 countries. For this to be possible, teachers must be knowledgeable about civic and citizenship issues through its inclusion in teacher education, as well as highly skilled in order to foster a trusting and inclusive classroom atmosphere that responds to diverse needs. Teachers are therefore central for the successful implementation of civics and citizenship education.

Sustainable Development Goal

The global community has committed to Sustainable Development Goal 4, which includes target 4.7:

“By 2030, ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.

As the development Indicators for 4.7.4 and 4.7.5 of the target are underway through the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML), the launch of ICCS 2016 is timely in giving rise to discussions on the best methodologies to use for monitoring these complex issues.

Note: The full data for the ICCS will be freely available in the months to come, and IEA encourages its use for further analysis. 

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