Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
 
CITIZENSHIP Education

In making citizenship education the theme of its 1997-1998 annual report on the state and needs of education, the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation's aim was to consider the specific contribution the educational system can make to forming citizens who will one day play an active role in their society. Thus, schools must serve as role models by concretely adopting the values, rights, responsibilities and participation promoted in the course content.

The report released in October 1998 proposes various avenues for deliberation and action designed to allow Québec's education system, from elementary school to university, to more effectively carry out this responsibility. It will be recalled that the Minister of Education's policy statement Québec Schools on Course provides for the upcoming implementation of the citizenship education course at the elementary and secondary levels.

 

The education system's responsibility

Fully aware of the complexity of this issue in the current context of globalizing international relations, the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation endorses the notion of "new citizenship," which it defines as the ability to live together in a democratic, pluralist society that is open to the world and to work together to build a just and equitable society, which reconciles a respect for differences with shared values.

Citizenship education is education in the values of democracy, pluralism and social commitment. The Conseil points out certain dangers that could undermine citizenship education: using it for purposes of political indoctrination; confining it narrowly to the issue of multi-ethnicity; reducing it to its legal dimension or to teaching of civics; confining it to the elementary and secondary levels only; imposing change from the top without involving the milieu.

 

Guidelines and means

Only through a combination of careful, consistent planning of relevant subject content, the use of appropriate teaching practices and the establishment of an educational environment that reinforces what is taught in class can citizenship education achieve the desired results. This strategy must be implemented at all levels -- elementary and secondary education, vocational education, higher education and adult education. The Conseil also urges the education community to work increasingly with groups offering popular education.

Citizenship education also requires certain essential measures, such as the need to prepare school personnel, particularly teaching staff. The Conseil also points out the need for properly evaluating the goals targeted by the citizenship education project.

Since the education system is not alone in shouldering the responsibility for training committed, responsible citizens, it is important that citizenship education be integrated into a political culture that goes beyond the classroom. The Conseil therefore urges schools to work increasingly with other organizations and institutions which also play a role.

Panorama • Volume 4, Number 1 • February 1999

Document complet - in French (PDF)
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