5.7 'Learning to participate' through formal, non-formal and informal learning
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The development of young people's social and civic competences is an important objective of the Luxembourgish youth policy (see: 5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation). As stated in the 2008 Youth Law (Art. 1,3), one objective of youth policy is to contribute to the education of young people as responsible and active citizens, respectful of democracy, values and fundamental rights of society. The 2009 law on compulsory education (loi du 6 février 2009 relative à l'obligation scolaire) highlights the importance of the development of social and civic competences at schools. According to this law, the objectives of the schools are to 'prepare pupils to assume their role as responsible citizens in a democratic society' and 'educate them on ethical values based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights […]'. (Art. 3). An important project to promote civic education in youth is the strategy for civic education launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth. The main element of this strategy includes the establishment of a Centre for Political Education that brings together all scholarly and extracurricular initiatives in the domain of civic education (see: 5.8 Raising political awareness among young people).
Citizenship education is incorporated in curricula for general and vocational education at the upper secondary level. It is taught as a separate subject (in the form of lessons on 'citizenship education', 'civic education', 'knowledge of the contemporary world'). Citizenship education is also taught as an integrated subject of the compulsory learning area 'life and society' (European Commission, EACEA & Eurydice, 2017). The recommended minimum number of hours of compulsory citizenship education as a separate subject during a notional year at primary and general secondary education is 29.9 hours per year (European Commission, EACEA & Eurydice, 2017). Objectives of citizenship education at upper secondary level are the following (EACEA & Eurydice, 2012, p. 30):
- Developing political literacy (basic facts, key concepts)
- Acquiring critical thinking and analytical skills
- Developing values, attitudes and behaviour (sense of respect, tolerance, solidarity, etc.)
- Encouraging active participation and engagement at the school level
- Encouraging active participation and engagement in the local community.
In order to strengthen the quality of citizenship education in schools, a teacher specialisation in citizenship education has been implemented and the provision of guidance and support material was further developed.
There are participative structures both at secondary and postsecondary level of education (Higher education student unions, school student unions). Further participative structures include the Youth Parliament, the Higher Youth Council, or the National Youth Council. These structures provide learning opportunities for young people and contribute to the development of young people's social and civic competences. (see: 5.3 Youth representation bodies). The revised Youth Law of 2016 introduces mechanisms of quality assurance in non-formal education, which are defined in the working paper 'Guidelines for non-formal education in childhood and youth'. The law defines action fields in the area of non-formal learning. 'Development of values, participation and democracy' is defined as one important action field. The National Youth Service organises, in cooperation with the National Youth Council, several training programmes (stages pour groupes scolaires) for members of pupil committees and for school mediators (see also: enfancejeunesse.lu). The Centre for Political Education is an important institution that supports non-formal learning activities focusing on social and civic competences (see: Information providers/counselling structures).
The revised Youth Law of 2016 has implemented a system of quality assurance for non-formal education. The objectives and organisation of the quality assurance process have been defined by the framework of non-formal education for open youth work in 2017 (see: Quality Assurance).
Teachers, trainers, non-formal education workers and youth workers are offered the opportunity to receive training and certification related to the development of social and civic competences. The National Youth Service is the main provider of training opportunities in the field of non-formal education (for an overview of the various training activities, see: agenda.snj.lu) The Training Institute of National Education (IFEN; Institut de formation de l'Éducation nationale) provides training courses for elementary and secondary school teachers in civic education.