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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning

Last update: 25 January 2024
On this page
  1. Policy Framework
  2. Formal learning
  3. Non-formal and informal learning
  4. Quality assurance/quality guidelines for non-formal learning
  5. Educators' support

Policy Framework

The expression “learning to participate” (“Beteiligung lernen”) is not often used within the pro-fessional discussion in Germany. Unsurprisingly, therefore, learning to participate is not a top-ic in its own right in Germany. Participation is practised and experienced in different contexts and it is important that participation processes are designed to be age, audience and situation-appropriate.
When it comes to specific educational processes that are also relevant to participation and in which important knowledge, skills and attitudes are acquired, one generally speaks in Germa-ny of political education. Following on from the 16th Child and Youth Report (16. Kinder- und Jugendbericht) of the Federal Government, which dealt in detail with the topic of political edu-cation and democracy education, “political education can be understood as being a process of developing maturity carried out by subjects – in this context by children and young people – which is aligned with basic democratic values such as human dignity, justice, equality, peace, solidarity, emancipation and freedom. Political education promotes the ability to critically and reflectively assess political reality with regard to the implementation of democratic principles. It develops the skills required for political participation and for shaping democratisation pro-cesses” (Deutscher Bundestag 2020, p. 527). Participation is a central aspect of this under-standing insofar as democracy must always be experienced in practice – and this requires the possibility of participation. The Commission therefore states: “Participation in democracy must be practised and experienced. But participation cannot be simulated. Children and young people need educational opportunities in educational spaces where they are valued and which they can play a serious part in shaping” (Deutscher Bundestag 2020, p. 567). As in other fields of learning, formal learning and educational opportunities can be distinguished from non-formal and informal ones (cf. Deutscher Bundestag 2020, p. 118).

The topography of citizenship education in practice (Topografie der Praxis politischer Bildung) created by the civic education service (Fachstelle politische Bildung) gives an overview of the extremely diverse and varied citizenship education landscape, its structures and approaches. It shows which fields of practice cover citizenship education and the various concepts used.

The Youth Strategy (Jugendstrategie) of the federal government requires concerted political efforts to ensure effective youth participation, civic engagement and democracy in action. The Youth Strategy publication on the strategic action area "Participation, engagement & democracy" (Beteiligung, Engagement & Demokratie) says:

The focus must be on encouraging young people's involvement in democracy, strengthening their democratic awareness, equipping them with the skills they need for democratic participation and social solidarity, as well as on taking preventive action against oppressive and anti-democratic tendencies. Education in democracy must be more than simply learning about political structures and how they work together. Young people must be taught democratic values and experience democratic processes first-hand using a range of target group- and context-specific approaches. This includes being able to form and justify their own views. It also includes learning how to engage in an open culture of debate, in which other views and ways of life are respected and compromises found, and where both majority decisions and the inalienable nature of minority rights are accepted. Democracy education also means making young people aware that a liberal democracy needs constitutional procedures and boundaries. [...] For example, young people active in youth work improve self-efficacy and learn about the social relevance of their work. In youth associations, youth groups and open-door youth work facilities they work independently and take responsibility for themselves and for others. (Youth Strategy (Jugendstrategie) of the federal government, page 45)

The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ständige Konferenz der Kultusminister der Länder in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) has issued various resolutions relating to citizenship education. These include the following resolutions:

  • Strengthening Democracy Education (Stärkung der Demokratieerziehung) of 6 March 2009.
    It says that education in democracy is a central task of schools and youth education institutions and that democracy and democratic actions can and must be learnt. (Strengthening Democracy Education (Stärkung der Demokratieerziehung), page 2.)
  • Establishing democracy education in schools (Demokratie als Ziel, Gegenstand und Praxis historisch-politischer Bildung und Erziehung in der Schule) (Resolution of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs [Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK] dated 6 March 2009, version dated 11 October 2018). Given current social and political developments and the high speed of the digital transformation, the KMK redrafted its 2009 recommendation and adopted the new version on 11 October 2018. The new version says: Digitalisation is a driver of social development, a connective force and an opportunity for participation. […] Schools are more important than ever both as places where democracy is taught and as places where democracy is experienced first-hand. School must be a place where democratic values and human rights standards are practised, put into practice and learnt.
  • Intercultural education at school (Interkulturelle Bildung und Erziehung in der Schule) version dated 5 December 2013. The resolution sets out targets and general principles for systematic intercultural development in schools to help pupils acquire intercultural skills. This includes opportunities relating to democracy education and the promotion of a democratic culture of discussion.
  • Remembering our past for our future – Recommendations for a culture of remembrance to form an object of historical and political education in schools (Erinnern für die Zukunft. Empfehlungen zur Erinnerungskultur als Gegenstand historisch-politischer Bildung in der Schule) of 11 December 2014. It specifies basic principles to provide guidance to integrate remembrance and a culture of remembrance into historical and political education and to enable young people to describe and evaluate historical developments and to understand how their own actions affect the world.
  • Media Education in Schools (Medienbildung in der Schule) of 8 March 2012. The declaration contains basic statements on the importance of the media to schools and education. It gives schools and teachers guidance on teaching pupils media literacy in order to give them the skills they need for civic participation and cultural participation in society.

In July 2016, the federal government adopted its strategy on preventing extremism and promoting democracy (Strategie zur Extremismusprävention und Demokratieförderung).
The strategy's action areas include "Civic education, intercultural education and democracy" and "Civil society engagement". The goal is to expand packages of measures and develop new ideas. This includes a programme by the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Inneren, BMI) called "Social cohesion through participation" (Zusammenhalt durch Teilhabe) (since 2010). Annual funding budget: 12 million euros. The programme funds projects to strengthen democratic participation and combat extremism. The focus is on regional clubs, associations and educators.

The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, bpb) lobbies for better understanding of political matters, a keener awareness of democracy and greater willingness to participate in political processes. bpb works with the state, policymakers, educational institutions, academia and the media. It is active in the areas of non-curricular citizenship education for young people and adults as well as citizenship education in schools. bpb provides a public service. Its activities are oriented to the principles of pluralism, controversy and rationality. bpb offers citizenship education services in the following areas:

  • Conferences, seminars, forums, congresses and study trips
  • Publications
  • Teaching aids and learning resources on citizenship education
  • Development of new methods and use of new techniques to spread information
  • Exhibitions and competitions such as the citizenship education competition for pupils (Schülerwettbewerb zur politischen Bildung)
  • Set-up and coordination of a citizenship education network (Netzwerk der politischen Bildung)
  • Support and funding for pluralist education services

The 16 state agencies for citizenship education (Landeszentralen für politische Bildung) in the federal states (Länder) work to promote and strengthen citizenship education and civic responsibility. These non-party agencies are attached to one of the federal ministries. In some states, for example, they take the form of a regional office (Landesanstalt) or regional organisation (Landeseinrichtung). Whilst the agencies are independent from the bpb, they act as its state-level equivalent.

The federal programme “Live Democracy!” has been pro-moting civil society engagement for our democracy, for diversity and against all forms of ex-tremism and hostility to democracy at municipal, regional and supra-regional level since 2015. Project funding for the federal programme – currently around 600 projects – is primarily aimed at further developing preventive-educational practice, supports democratic engage-ment and strengthens civil society structures. The programme focuses on “places of preven-tion”, e.g. in families, educational institutions, among peers, during recreational activities, on the internet or in the penal system.
Since 2015, the federal programme “Live Democracy!” has succeeded in steadily improving its financial resources. This significantly strengthens the promotion of civil society projects for democracy and diversity as well as against all forms of extremism, which unfortunately – given current political and social developments – is still necessary. Funding for the “Live De-mocracy!” programme increased to EUR 165.5 million in 2022 (an increase of EUR 135 mil-lion compared to 2021). The programme targets children and young people in particular, along with their parents, family members and individuals in a position of trust. It is also for voluntary, part-time and full-time youth service workers, educators and agents of the state and civil society.

Experience Democracy (DemokratieErleben) encourages young people to actively take control of their reality, offers them a wide range of opportunities for participation and helps them to take charge of decisions that affect them. The initiative aims to:

  • Give children and young people the skills they need to responsibly participate in shaping their reality
  • Strengthen democracy education and child and youth participation as a task of civil society
  • Integrate best practices into democracy education and make them available to all
  • Improve visibility and political efficacy through networking, dialogue and interaction between civil society and the state

Experience Democracy is a broad alliance of civil society organisations supported by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK). The Democratic Action (Demokratisch Handeln) funding initiative of the German Children and Youth Foundation (Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung) and the Körber foundation (Körber-Stiftung) initiated the alliance in 2010. The German association for democracy education (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Demokratiepädagogik, DeGeDe) has coordinated the alliance since 2014.

The Joint initiative of providers of political education for youth (Gemeinsame Initiative der Träger Politischer Jugendbildung, GEMINI) is an association of national organisations for political education for youth that operates as the national committee for political education (Bundesausschuss politische Bildung, bap).

The GEMINI organisations work jointly to get children and young people interested in actively shaping their own realities of life and their communities and to promote participative skills. The association guarantees a shared platform for sharing ideas and experience with colleagues/peers, quality assurance, the further development of concepts and representing youth interests. The BMFSFJ supports political youth education organizations through the Federal Child and Youth Plan.

Section 11 of Book 8 of the Social Code – Children and Youth Services (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch – Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, SGB VIII) provides the legal basis for making youth work programmes available to young people. The law requires these programmes to appeal to the interests of young people. Young people should be able to play an active role and take part in decision-making. The programmes should empower young people to take action and motivate them to take responsibility for their own contribution to society and civic commitment. Youth work areas include youth education in political and social subjects.

Section 84 of Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII) requires the federal government to submit a report in each legislative period on the situation of young people and the efforts and contributions of Child and Youth Services (Bericht über die Lage junger Menschen und die Bestrebungen und Leistungen der Jugendhilfe) to the German parliament (Bundestag) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat). The government tasks an independent expert commission to compile each report and adds its own statement. The German Youth Institute (Deutsches Jugendinstitut) is in charge of managing the expert commission and providing the necessary input. The 16th Child and Youth Report (16. Kinder- und Jugendbericht) looking at supporting democracy education for children and young people (Förderung demokratischer Bildung im Kindes- und Jugendalter) was published in 2020. This report looks at the progress made so far by institutions and concepts in the context of democracy education for young people up to 27 years and create a basis for moving forward. It also helps to bring this focus topic closer into the public eye and raise its profile in the child and youth services sector.

Formal learning

Citizenship education in Germany in general aims at

  • teaching the ideas of freedom and democracy,
  • bringing young people up as tolerant people who respect other people and their convictions,
  • fostering the belief in international understanding,
  • strengthening social commitment and political responsibility and
  • enabling young people to assume their own rights and duties.

Developing an awareness of democracy and politics is part of the German education system. Citizenship education is a fixed subject in all schools and years from 9th grade onwards. Educational policy is decided by the federal states (Länder). They have their own legislation regarding educational policy. There is a wide array of arrangements. This means that the significance of the subject, the syllabuses and the names of the school subjects can vary from state to state: politics, social sciences, social studies, sociology, political sciences, political education, general studies, international politics – social and civic skills are taught under a variety of names.

The table below shows the typical names in each of the federal states (Länder) given to the subjects teaching citizenship education in grammar schools (Gymnasien).

Federal state Lower secondary (Sekundarstufe I) Upper secondary (Sekundarstufe II)
Baden-Württemberg Social studies Social studies
Bavaria Sociology Sociology
Berlin Political education (grades 5 and 6), sociology (grades 7 to 10) Political science (or social sciences)
Brandenburg Political education Political education
Bremen Politics Politics
Hamburg Politics/society/economics Politics/society/economics
Hesse Politics and economics Politics and economics
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Sociology Sociology
Lower Saxony Policy economics Policy economics
North Rhine-Westphalia Politics Social sciences
Rhineland-Palatinate Sociology Sociology
Saarland Sociology Sociology
Saxony Social studies/
rights education/economics
Social studies/rights education/economics
Saxony-Anhalt Sociology Sociology
Schleswig-Holstein Economics/politics Economics/politics
Thuringia Sociology Sociology

The number of hours devoted to the school subject varies across the federal states. The graphic (page 20) shows how many teaching hours are allocated to citizenship education in grammar schools (lower secondary – Gymnasien Sekundarstufe I).

Overview of syllabuses in the federal states

Non-formal and informal learning

Participative structures within formal education settings

The regulations found in frame curricula and syllabuses or in the school acts in the states (Länder) require schools to get pupils actively involved in shaping their school learning. Various types of participation are possible: as class spokesperson, on the school council, in class conferences, in teacher conferences, in school conferences, as a member of the regional school council, or at the state school conference. The regulations on this vary across the states (see 5.3).

In 2019, the German Children's Fund (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) compiled a summary of the participation rights of children and young people in Germany and compared and contrasted the rules in each of the federal states (Länder). 

The participation rights of children and young people in Germany are listed in 5.1.

Examples of participative learning in formal and non-formal settings
  • Baden-Württemberg: Pupil mentor programme (Schülermentorenprogramm) to promote political education among young people). Around 900 school pupils are trained as mentors every year.
  • Model European Parliament in Germany, MEP (Modell Europa Parlament Deutschland) for groups of school pupils in years 10 and 11 from Germany (schools from all federal states participate)
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: Young people in state parliament (Jugend im Landtag) participation project
  • Junior election (Juniorwahl) project (Kumulus) to practice and experience democracy first-hand. Introduces the topic of elections to secondary schools. Teachers integrate "democracy and elections" into the timetable. Junior election 2020: Election of the Ruhr regional parliament.
  • U18 elections (U18-Wahlen) (German Federal Youth Council [Deutscher Bundesjugendring]) are held nine days before an official election. European, parliamentary, regional, or local elections all bring political discussions about the future into the public eye. These events are also of interest to children and young people, who have their own questions and political desires. U18 offers young people the opportunity to take action: Once a polling station is registered on the U18 website, children and young people can prepare for their own election. U18 encourages them to form their own opinions and learn more about the political system, and answers their questions. Participants identify and debate their own topics and priorities. They scrutinise and compare party manifestos to help them come to a personal election decision.
  • Nationwide youth debate (Jugend debattiert) competition for schools . Combines training to be a good debater in lessons with a nationwide competition for pupils in year 8 and above.
  • As part of the Youth Strategy: acting for a child- and youth-friendly society (Jugendstrategie: Handeln für eine jugendgerechte Gesellschaft), from 2017 to 2019 the innovation fund (Innovationsfonds) of the Child and Youth Plan of the Federal Government (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes) funded nine projects on displacement, migration, home and religion as factors that influence how we live side by side in society (Flucht, Migration, Heimat und Religion – Was hält unsere Gesellschaft zusammen?). The citizenship education service (Transferstelle politische Bildung) supported the projects. The projects tested different formats, methods and settings for citizenship education to promote the further development of the field and set the course for the development of innovative approaches.
Participation in the local community and wider society

Federal (national) programmes or competitions to promote democratic action are:

  • Federal programme Live Democracy! (Demokratie leben!) of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ). Programme funds go to projects at all levels – from the local to the federal government – that promote democracy and diversity and prevent extremism. Target groups: children and young people, their parents, family members and individuals in a position of trust, voluntary, part-time and full-time youth service workers, communication multipliers and agents of the state and civil society.

Project term: since 2015
Funding in 2015: 40.5 million euros, 2022: 183.5 million euros

  • Federal programme "Social cohesion through participation" (Zusammenhalt durch Teilhabe, ZdT) of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium des Innern). Starting from the third funding wave in 2017, funds now also go to federal projects that promote democratic participation and take action against extremism. The programme is implemented by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, bpb).

Project term: 2010 to 2024

Annual funding: 12 million euros (up to 2015: 6 million euros/year)

Project term: has been running since 1990 and is open to all schools in Germany.

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and the ministries of education of the federal states.

Examples of programmes, competitions or initiatives supported by the regional (Länder) governments are:


The all-day school (Ganztagsschulen) concept enables cooperation between schools and external partners such as youth organisations and youth associations. The investment programme Future Education and Care (Zukunft Bildung und Betreuung, IZBB) provided the basis for implementing all-day schools and resulted in the establishment of more than 8 000 all-day schools between 2003 and 2009. Since then, the federal states have continued to focus on improving quality and extending all-day school activities. Germany had over 14,000 all-day schools in the 2010/2011 school year. The number of all-day schools has more than tripled in the last 10 years (as of 2019). The regulations relating to all-day schools are different in each federal state as the topic is dealt with at state level. In some cases, they take the form of framework agreements between the department of education and various umbrella associations and organisations. These provide the organisational and financial framework for cooperation between schools and associations, clubs and institutions on the provision of childcare and all-day schooling services. Alternatively, schools can enter into cooperation agreements with local or regional external partners. School cooperation partners could be, for example, state sports associations/federations, state federations for cultural youth education or regional youth councils. Or they could be local educational institutions that provide extracurricular educational activities, or clubs or religious or other social organisations that give children the opportunity to take responsibility for how we live side by side in society.

Such cooperation is mainly based on Section 81 (1) no. 1 of Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII). It requires schools and youth work organisations to work together in the interests of young people. Other sections of SGB VIII can also apply: Section 11 (3) no. 3 "school-based youth work" (schulbezogene Jugendarbeit) and Section 13 (1) and (4) "school-based school social work", "transition from school to training" (schulbezogene Schulsozialarbeit, Übergang Schule in Ausbildung). For the schools, partnerships with non-school institutions are governed by the school acts in the federal states (Länder) and other statutory instruments.

The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) defines "all-day" schools as offering a schedule of activities for at least seven hours per day on at least three days of the week. The school principal has overall responsibility for the activities provided by the all-day school and must ensure that extracurricular elements are conceptually aligned with lessons. All-day schools are only offered at primary and lower secondary (Sekundarstufe I) level.

KMK distinguishes between three types of all-day school:

  • all-day schools operating under the "open model" (offene Ganztagsschulen) – these offer pupils the opportunity to take part in all-day curricular and non-curricular activities
  • all-day schools operating under the "partly compulsory model" (teilweise gebundene Ganztagsschule) – these require compulsory all-day attendance by defined groups of pupils, and all-day schools operating under the "fully compulsory model" (voll gebundene Ganztagsschulen) – these require all pupils to attend seven scheduled hours on at least three days of the week.

The all-day schools approach enables schools to enter into partnerships with public-sector and independent youth services and, depending on the school's area of responsibility, allows both sides to be involved in shaping the teaching concept. Content can include social and intercultural education, the prevention of violence, strengthening of personal skills, integration, participation and democracy. The learning provided at all-day schools is reviewed regularly. Evaluations and regular quality management ensure that learning is constantly enhanced and adapted to changing conditions. The all-day schools are funded by the federal states (Länder).

School is a formal education setting. It focusses on achievements and prepares pupils for adult life by awarding certificates of qualification. By contrast, youth work is about creating shared experiences and providing room for young people to develop. It follows the principles of openness, voluntary participation, codetermination, orientation to participants' everyday realities, and so on. These different motivators can initially result in obstacles to cooperation. For it to work, schools must look more to developing social spaces and become more community-oriented. This enables schools to connect more closely with the realities faced by children and young people – which promotes empathy and motivation, and helps pupils to develop their social and political skills. Specific concepts and agreements between non-curricular and curricular learning formats should form part of this. The 15th Child and Youth Report (15. Kinder- und Jugendbericht) shows that the concepts are not yet sufficiently oriented to the needs of children and young people. This is likely to be the reason why older pupils rarely take part in afternoon school activities. In addition, young people would like more opportunities to have a say in these activities, which is seldom possible.

Example of non-formal education – school cooperation:

The Network for Democracy and Courage (Netzwerk für Demokratie und Courage, NDC) is a federal network of young people committed to promoting democracy and speaking up against oppression.

NDC mainly works to train young people as ambassadors, as well as hosting project days, seminars and training events in schools, vocational colleges, educational institutions and for many other target groups. NDC was founded in 1999 and consists of many different supporters. These include trade union associations, youth organisations, welfare organisations, state youth councils (Landesjugendringe), Catholic youth organisations and many others.

NDC has offices and teams of voluntary ambassadors in 12 federal states. The NDC association represents the network's interests at federal level.

For further information on the involvement of other players in society also see Eurydice.

Supporting non-formal learning

Outside of school, young people can learn about participation via various state-funded activities, such as volunteer schemes (see chapter on Voluntary Activities) or membership of a club, youth organisation, youth centre, youth club, etc. Youth organisations are places where young people can practice using democratic systems and thus have an influence on youth policy. Child and youth work is the basis for social, political and cultural education and for creating space for young people to come together and meet in their free time in a setting of their choosing. Further important stakeholders are the youth education centres, political youth education organisations and civic involvement and civil society organisations as part of social movements.

The Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes) is the programme for funding youth work and the work of youth organisations on a national level. Areas funded include youth education in political subjects. On a regional (Länder) level, the implementation acts to Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch, SGB VIII) provide the basis for structural support and project funding in youth (association) work and other areas of child and youth services. See also Supporting Youth Organisations > Public financial support 

Quality assurance/quality guidelines for non-formal learning

Book 8 of the Social Code – Children and Youth Services (Sozialgesetzbuch Achtes Buch – Kinder- und Jugendhilfe, SGB VIII) includes general statements and objectives on quality. Specific quality requirements can be derived from Article 11 on youth work (Jugendarbeit). Article 11 says that youth work services should reflect the interests of young people, who should also have a say in their design, and that services should help to teach young people self-determination skills and motivate them to take social responsibility and get involved in social issues. Youth-led participation is the central quality aspect of child and youth organisation work. Youth group leaders (Jugendgruppenleiter-/innen), also called team leaders (Teamleiter/-innen), play a particularly important role in this regard. Their training has an impact on their work and thus the quality of participation. Training is completed in line with set standards. In 2009, the conference of youth ministers (Jugendministerkonferenz) adopted a catalogue of minimum requirements across Germany. The federal states also set supplementary quality standards on aspects such as the duration of training (nationwide: at least 30 hours, in some states up to 50 hours). Anyone who has completed training in line with the applicable standards can apply for the youth leader card (Jugendleiter/In-Card, Juleica). Juleica card holders are thus certified as meeting the quality and qualification requirements for voluntary youth work. The card can also be used as authentication to public bodies such as information and advice centres, youth institutions, the police and consulates.

Safeguarding the quality of participatory processes in youth work means regularly taking a critical look at and reflecting on certain aspects, such as democratic decision-making structures (decision-making flexibility for young people, influence, low threshold of offers, opportunities to gain participation experience) or the framework for shaping participatory processes.

No general quality assurance system exists in the non-formal sector. Many organisations in the non-formal sector have developed their own quality standards. Different quality management/quality assurance systems apply depending on how a project or programme is funded, as different guidelines apply in each case. This relates mainly to national and international youth work and the various formats in which it takes place. In the field of international youth work, a range of quality systems and tools are in place for the following formats: youth exchanges, expert dialogue, volunteer programmes, au pairs, seminars/training and placements. See also 'Innovation forum Global Youth: Quality in formats of international youth work (Innovationsforum Jugend global: Qualität in Formaten der Internationalen Jugendarbeit) as of 2015.

All formats aim to give children and young people the opportunity to learn how to participate in society and to make an active and voluntary contribution in any number of ways (individual or group formats), either as a participant or leader (group leader, supervisor, team leader) of an initiative. Full-time employees are relevant as they have access to suitable programmes and methods that allow them to teach young people participation skills. As such, in the context of participation, the quality assurance systems mentioned above are always relevant to all stakeholders: children, young people, full-time staff and managers.

An application and use verification process (Antrags- und Verwendungsnachweisverfahren) is in place to ensure funds are used efficiently and for their intended purpose in compliance with the relevant guidelines. Applicants must provide clear cost data in their project planning and funding applications. Projects and initiatives funded, for example, as part of the Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP) must comply with the plan guidelines. KJP is the main federal funding source also for activities of political and citizenship non-formal education. To receive funding under KJP, schemes and projects must comply with the guidelines for awarding grants and benefits to promote child and youth services (Richtlinien über die Gewährung von Zuschüssen und Leistungen zur Förderung der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe durch den Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes) under KJP. Quality development is one of the goals that KJP aims to support and strengthen. The guidelines require quality indicators to be developed and determined that allow practices to be reviewed and developed in dialogue- and participation-based processes. These quality indicators must be reviewed and adapted on an ongoing basis. Additionally, they must include processes that ensure participation by young people and their families. Anyone who is given funding under KJP must provide proof of where the money was used once the measure is finished. Lists of participants must be kept.

See also Country report Germany. 2018 update to the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning.

Educators' support

Teachers are entitled to undergo further training as part of their jobs. They can use the services of teacher training, school development and quality development institutions (Landesinstitute für Lehrerfortbildung und Schulentwicklung) in the federal states to receive further training in a range of areas including citizenship education, for example in Bavaria, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Saxony or Thuringia.

The common content requirements for subject-related studies and subject-related didactics in teacher training (Ländergemeinsame inhaltliche Anforderungen für die Fachwissenschaften und Fachdidaktiken in der Lehrerbildung) which apply to all federal states include democracy education and democracy didactics for teachers of the school subjects politics/social studies/economics. The standards for teacher training in educational sciences (Standards für die Lehrerbildung: Bildungswissenschaften), agreed by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ständige Konferenz der Kultusminister der Länder in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, KMK), also include recognising, reflecting on and teaching democratic  values and norms, and knowledge of intercultural aspects when shaping education processes.

The Agencies for Civic Education (one at federal level, several at the level of the federal states) provide information material, toolkits, publications and teacher training programmes in the field of civic education. See also Raising political awareness among young people > Information providers / counselling structures.

The German children's fund (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) offers a nationwide training programme to become a moderator for child and youth participation. The programme provides training for individuals in child- and youth-related roles, such as experts in youth services and in formal and non-formal learning, child and youth commissioners, employees of children's offices and participation coordination bodies, as well as political and public-sector staff involved in planning, organising and implementing participation processes involving children and young people. The programme teaches specific measures and strategies for use in everyday work.

Information about ways to encourage participation by children and young people, theoretical principles, strategies, action areas and cooperation partners is available for experts on the websites and

The event calendar page of the citizens' information portal (Wegweiser Bürgergesellschaft) has details of seminars, conferences and events dealing with civil society issues that are organised by civil society groups and charitable organisations.

The Become youth-friendly (Jugend gerecht werden) toolbox contains practical methods for youth work professionals, along with information on a range of initiatives, theoretical background knowledge, a list of participation-related training options and more besides.


The Federal Network for Child and Youth Participation (BundesNetzwerk Kinder- und Jugendbeteiligung) is a think tank for positions, projects and campaigns. It lobbies for democracy as a tangible form of governance, societal model and way of life for all age groups. The German Children's Fund (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) initiated the network, which now counts around 250 youth work professionals as its members. The members meet once a year.

The Youth Participation Resource Centre (Servicestelle Jugendbeteiligung) is a central point of contact on matters relating to youth participation in Germany. It provides information, advice and training, and supports young people by connecting them with participative youth initiatives. The Centre is a service provider for youth engagement and youth participation. It is dedicated to creating a supportive framework for youth engagement activities. 12 regional offices implement pilot projects to promote youth participation. The Centre is also politically and socially active in youth engagement and participation, and is represented in several committees and working groups. 

The civic participation network (Netzwerk Bürgerbeteiligung) brings together people from all walks of life and professions who want to promote public participation in political decisions. The network meets annually.

The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) set up the NECE platform (Networking European Citizenship Education) to connect stakeholders involved in citizenship education. Conferences and workshops are held on a regular basis. They are aimed at institutions and individual organisations active in civic education, as well as other stakeholders, such as cultural education or urban development organisations, to ensure cross-disciplinary dialogue incor-porating multiple perspectives.

See also Supporting Youth Organisations > Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants