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Towards a framework of competences for democratic citizenship

Report | Doc. 13992 | 01 March 2016

Committee
Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media
Rapporteur :
Mr Jacques LEGENDRE, France, EPP/CD
Origin
Reference to committee: Doc. 13341, Reference 4016 of 27 January 2014. 2016 - Second part-session

Summary

Education should enable young people to acquire the skills required to build a pluralistic society based on solidarity, democratic values and human rights. Competences such as the multiperspectivity with regard to the assessment of current and past events, critical thinking and the capacity to seek co-operation rather than confrontation can only be acquired through quality education in democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue. However, many European countries lack both benchmarks and a process that enables learning and teaching outcomes, and teaching approaches and methods, to be properly assessed. The initiative to develop a European framework of competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue is therefore to be commended.

This framework should provide a common ground for building more cohesive societies, where all people are respectful of the human dignity of others and where European shared values are nurtured. It should guide policy makers in the Council of Europe member States in reviewing their education policies and should assist the teaching community in the development of new instruments for setting learning goals, for improving teaching methods and for assessing progress in learning.

A Draft resolutionNote

1. The Parliamentary Assembly stresses the importance of giving young people all the tools they need to acquire the skills necessary to build a pluralistic society based on solidarity, democratic values and human rights, and to live in it together as active and responsible citizens.
2. The Assembly believes it is not possible to acquire these skills without quality education in democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue, of which school must be one of the pillars. However, many European countries lack both benchmarks and a process that enables learning and teaching outcomes and teaching approaches and methods to be properly assessed.
3. The Assembly therefore welcomes and supports the initiative of the Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe member States concerning the development of a European “framework of competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue” and would like policy makers to be made more aware of this initiative and mobilised to take the measures required to ensure the effective implementation of this framework of competences in all European States.
4. In this respect, the Assembly recommends that the member States:
4.1 review their education policies and reformulate the objectives of these policies in order to take account of the new framework of competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue that the Council of Europe is currently drawing up and ensure its proper implementation as soon as it is adopted;
4.2 implement the framework of competences at all levels of the education system with due regard to various situations (classroom, school, local community or the community to which one belongs) and ensuring that theoretical learning is not separated from its practical application;
4.3 adapt school curricula and allocate the necessary resources to education for democratic citizenship, human rights, gender equality and intercultural dialogue (whether it be part of a specific or cross-disciplinary course);
4.4 adapt the initial and in-service training of school leaders, teachers and educators, especially as far as the assessment of pupils’ skills is concerned; if necessary, make it compulsory to participate in training modules (possibly with qualifying examinations) that enable knowledge in the areas covered by the framework of competences to be improved;
4.5 ensure recognition of the outcomes of learning for democratic citizenship, respect for human rights and intercultural dialogue, for pupils and teachers, school leaders and other individuals concerned, and to this end:
4.5.1 establish assessment and validation procedures in order to measure progress made with regard to theoretical learning and the acquisition of appropriate behaviour;
4.5.2 use tools, such as the Skills Portfolio, that can give greater visibility to these competences;
4.5.3 take these competences into account in the selection processes for access to the civil service.
5. The Assembly invites the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities to take account of the framework of competences in the implementation of the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life, and to promote in this context the exchange of practical experience between local and regional authorities.
6. The Assembly recognises the important role of civil society partners and reiterates that civil society organisations should be involved at the national and international levels in the implementation of the framework of competences. It invites the Conference of International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe and the Advisory Council on Youth to contribute to the implementation of the framework of competences as well as to the exchange of experience, the promotion of good practices and mutual enrichment in this area.
7. The Assembly welcomes the efforts to co-ordinate the Council of Europe’s actions with those of other international organisations, especially the institutions of the European Union, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). It calls on these organisations to continue and strengthen their co-operation in all areas with an impact on the implementation of the framework of competences, with the aim of making teaching a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue more effective and more consistent in the education systems of their respective member States.

B Draft recommendationNote

1. The Parliamentary Assembly, referring to its Resolution … (2015) “Towards a framework of competences for democratic citizenship”, welcomes the Council of Europe’s initiative to draw up a “framework of competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue” and stresses the importance of such an instrument developed at the international level to assess competences in this area.
2. The Assembly therefore requests the Committee of Ministers to respond positively and as quickly as possible to the work undertaken to prepare the framework of competences and to provide for appropriate follow-up mechanisms, especially in order to prepare the tools necessary for the effective implementation of the framework of competences, as has been done for the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR), for example: guides for different user categories and contexts; educational materials illustrating the levels of proficiency; guides describing how to relate examinations to reference levels for the competences described; and a specific website providing practical resources.

C Explanatory memorandum by Mr Legendre, rapporteur

1 Origin, scope and aim of the report

1. Europe faces many different challenges associated with cultural diversity, for which our continent and its States provide a haven but which is a source of both immense enrichment and tensions. The increasing number of manifestations of intolerance and racism raise questions that democracy has to resolve.
2. Hundreds of our young people, either Muslims or converted Muslims, are leaving to fight in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere for the terrorist group known as Daesh.Note Others – much larger in number – are staying but no longer having any faith in democratic institutions and, as victims of discrimination, are struggling between withdrawal into their own communities and imposed social exclusion. Still others are adopting extremist positions, advocating violence and stirring up hatred or simply rejecting dialogue and the idea of sharing “their” country with those guilty of having a different origin, culture or religion. In dealing with these challenges, the culture of democracy will have to find concrete applications.
3. All these young people were assumed to have acquired in their families and our schools a set of values on which our identity is based: respect for human rights and adherence to democratic principles and the rule of law. They were also assumed to have acquired the ability to live according to these values on a daily basis, be open to dialogue with others and play an active role in social life as responsible citizens.
4. The competences required to practise democratic citizenship and to promote the protection of human rights, and to strengthen intercultural dialogue are acquired competences, which have to be nurtured from an early age and throughout one’s life. Education must enable them to be acquired and developed. In France, a private member’s bill aimed at strengthening the fundamental values and principles of the Republic in the operation of the State education system was tabled in the Senate on 18 September 2015Note on the basis of a report by a member of the French Senate, Jacques Grosperrin.Note
5. A thorough reflection is accordingly needed on whether the educational provision contributes to greater intercultural understanding, improved democratic participation and respect for human rights standards. Measuring achievements in this area against a set of competence descriptors developed at European level, seems to me essential to enable educators and policy makers to identify areas where more work is needed.
6. Following the Declaration “Governance and Quality Education”,Note adopted by the Ministers of Education meeting in Helsinki on 26 and 27 April 2013, the Council of Europe Steering Committee for Education Policies and Practice underscored, in March 2014, the importance of developing “descriptors for competences for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue” in order to make preparation for life as active citizens in democratic societies an integral part of the mission of education. The expected outcome is a framework of competences adaptable to the different national contexts and specific needs in their respective education systems,Note bearing in mind the principle of subsidiarity. The descriptors for competences should be used in schools, universities and other educational situations to develop curricula and the teaching methods necessary to help pupils become active citizens committed to democracy. These descriptors should also enable their progress to be assessed.
7. There are four interrelated key policy issues that need to be taken into account and understood in considering the development of a framework of competences in democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue (DC/HR/ID) and how it can be integrated successfully in the overall design of education systems, policies and practice at a European level. These four key policy issues are:
  • To what extent is it possible to create a coherent framework of competences in DC/HR/ID?
  • How could such a future framework be integrated in the overall design of education systems, policies and practices?
  • What impact could such a framework have on the functioning of education systems?
  • What is the optimum policy design and implementation strategy for such a framework at a European level?
8. These four policy issues will need to be resolved if the development of a framework of competences in DC/HR/ID is to be successfully integrated in European education systems.
9. The following analysis is based on the contribution of Mr David Kerr and other experts that our committee has interviewed, especially those from the intergovernmental sector of the Council of Europe and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
10. Apart from the work of the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental sector, I have paid due regard to the commitments of the Council of Europe member States at global level in the context of the World Programme for Human Rights Education, and at European level through their involvement with the Council of Europe’s flagship project “Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education” (EDC/HRE).

2 Creating a coherent framework of competences

11. The first key policy issue is a substantive one. It is the policy issue of whether it is possible to create a coherent framework of competences in DC/HR/ID. It is crucial that it is successfully addressed in order for the work on DC/HR/ID competences to progress. This is necessary in order to convince key education policy makers, on the one hand, of the consistency of the framework of competences and of the reliability and value of such a framework of competences and, on the other, of the possibility of integrating these elements alongside other core aspects of education, such as literacy and numeracy, to the benefit of the overall quality of education.

2.1 Understanding democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue

12. Recent major studies of democratic citizenship and human rights have highlighted a lack of awareness and/or understanding among policy makers of what is meant by DC/HR/ID.Note
13. The Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education provides a sound basis concerning what is meant by democratic citizenship and respect for human rights.Note To this would need to be added a clear working definition of what is meant by intercultural dialogue.
14. There has also been much development work on the definition of competences and competence descriptors, including categories and descriptors, for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue. This has come about from the development of conceptual frameworks for major European and international studies in these areas, as well as through specific initiatives aimed at identifying and measuring civic and citizenship competences across European countries. Most notable among these developments are the conceptual frameworks for the Civic Education Study and the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS09) of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), and the European Commission-funded work on developing a civic competence composite indicator.Note The IEA studies are the largest ever undertaken in relation to DC/HR/ID and help to provide the data for the construction of the European Commission civic competence indicator. This development work sets out the core knowledge, skills, attitudes and values for participation, democratic citizenship, social justice and respect for human rights. It also provides descriptors for each of these dimensions and shows how they can be combined into a conceptual framework that can be reliably measured using research data.Note

2.2 Full integration of democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue in school curricula

15. Democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue should be fully integrated in school curricula.
16. Literacy, numeracy (mathematics), science, languages and more recently the addition of information and communication technologies (ICT) are well established and recognised in education systems and by policy makers. These disciplines have a strong status and high acceptance at education policy and practice levels. Pupils’ competences in these areas are assessed by influential international studies such as PISA, TIMMS, PIRLS and TALIS, whose results are scrutinised and seized upon by policy makers and used to make decisions in reforming education systems.Note
17. Unfortunately, DC/HR/ID is in a position of considerable comparative disadvantage in relation to these other key education areas. This disadvantage is long term and has been exacerbated in recent years by the impact of and policy response to the global economic recession, with more attention paid to areas that have a direct impact on employability. A number of recent reports have highlighted how the economic recession has weakened policies and practices concerning DC/HR/ID across Europe and called for policy makers to consider the impact of such changes on society now and in the future.Note
18. Democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue can be associated with developing “soft skills” concerning attitudes, values and behaviours for future life in society.
19. In order to convince policy makers about the importance of promoting and supporting DC/HR/ID alongside the other key education areas, it is necessary to use evidence and arguments to highlight the value that DC/HR/ID bring to the quality of education, alongside other key education areas, and its overall contribution to strengthening society, including the economy. Skills and capacity to live together peacefully and cohesively in democratic societies and communities that seek to strengthen the rights and responsibilities of citizens, both individually and collectively, and foster intercultural dialogue and understanding for the benefit of society as a whole.
20. Such developments are becoming increasingly important for policy makers through the influence of two drivers. The first is recognition that the current global economic crisis was created, in part, by the most educated in society, who had acquired language, mathematical and scientific literacy skills in abundance, but had, somehow, lost their wider social and moral compass in putting their individual greed above the impacts on society as a whole. The second is the crucial need to prepare current generations of young people effectively for the future, in a world that continues to undergo rapid and continuous change. This means preparing them to both compete and live effectively in a global economy where they could live and work anywhere in the world during their lifetime.
21. These two drivers are presenting particular challenges in thinking through how education systems can ensure that young people are properly prepared to be successful on a global stage so that they can prosper individually and collectively. It means promoting skills for life that include both traditional areas such as languages, mathematics and science alongside the skills and competences promoted by democratic citizenship, education for human rights and intercultural dialogue. In short, practical competences as a means of promoting a “global competence”.Note
22. It is interesting to note that policy makers in education in many countries are already recognising the importance of ensuring that through their education systems young people have opportunities to develop skills for life and this broader global competence. It explains why the PISA framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for 2018 will include, for the first time, a measurement of global competence alongside information gathered by other PISA assessments in reading, mathematics, science and problem solving. This inclusion is intended to provide a first snapshot for countries of how well young people are being prepared to be successful global citizens who can operate on a global stage. The outcomes can then be used by policy makers to make necessary reforms and adjustments in their education systems.Note
23. This work will also be strengthened at international and European level through the new IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study in 2016 (ICCS16) which is a follow-up to ICCS09. The refined framework for ICCS16 will help to further strengthen the definition of DC/HR/ID and provide further proof that such dimensions can be robustly defined and measured.Note

2.3 Training teachers and school leaders with regard to the implementation of the framework of competences

24. A main focus of such additional training of teachers and school leaders should be consideration of how schools are organised vis-à-vis opportunities for young people to experience active or participatory citizenship and for policy review and reflection about DC/HR/ID.
25. In terms of training teachers and school leaders, it is clear that there is currently insufficient training for those in education systems in relation to DC/HR/ID. This insufficiency is at a number of levels and phases. In terms of initial teacher education, not enough new teachers are being trained with the knowledge, skills and confidence to address DC/HR/ID in classrooms and across the school. In the primary school phase, initial training is about producing specialists in other subjects (mathematics, languages and science) or generalist teachers. In the secondary school phase initial training does not train enough teachers who can teach DC/HR/ID as a standalone curriculum subject and/or teachers who can address DC/HR/ID coherently through other related subjects, such as history or social sciences. All new teachers lack training and confidence in becoming involved in active or participatory citizenship through their teaching and involvement in the school community.
26. There is also a lack of training, in many countries, on DC/HR/ID for those who are already teaching in schools, what is often referred to in the literature as either continuous professional development or in-service training. This means that new teachers often enter schools where existing teachers are equally unconfident about addressing DC/HR/ID. The situation concerning teacher training for DC/HR/ID contrasts with that for other key education areas, such as mathematics and languages where specialists are developed through initial teacher education and receive considerable on-going training when in schools.
27. There is also the related issue of a lack of training for school leaders, both existing and future, concerning the implications of DC/HR/ID at whole-school level. This is an issue because all the major research studies on education for democratic citizenship and human rights education highlight the crucial role of school leaders in fostering effective policies and practices in relation to DC/HR/ID.Note Interestingly, the latest Eurydice report singles out room for improvement in the education and continuing professional development of teachers and school leaders as a critical policy recommendation for all European countries. The need to strengthen the competence of teachers and school leaders in relation to DC/HR/ID is a key issue for policy makers to address if a framework of competences in DC/HR/ID is to be successfully integrated into schools in education systems across Europe, at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

3 Integrating the framework of competences into education systems and anticipating its impact

3.1 Integrating the framework of competences into the development, implementation and assessment of education policies

28. Having convinced policy makers of the value of DC/HR/ID and of the importance of creating a coherent framework of competences for DC/HR/ID, the next key policy issue that needs to be addressed is explaining how such a framework of competences can be successfully integrated into the overall design of education systems, policies and practices. The experiences and lessons of the integration of democratic citizenship and human rights education into the education systems of European countries, collected since 1997 through the Council’s flagship EDC/HRE Project, suggests that such integration is more successful where policy makers take a consistent and coherent approach across the education system through supporting policies, research and practices. A particular key is also the fostering of partnerships and supporting networks.
29. The Council of Europe’s publication “Strategic Support for Decision Makers: Policy Tool for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights” is particularly instructive in this respect. It draws together the experiences and approaches of all Council of Europe member States in promoting DC/HR/ID to set out strategic advice for policy makers as to how to foster effective teaching in this area.NoteNote They underline the need for a partnership approach that involves dialogue and co-operation between policy makers, stakeholders (parents, community representatives, media and the general public) and practitioners (those who work in the education system such as school leaders, teachers and support staff).
30. The particular steps set out in the Policy Tool for the promotion of effective policies and practices in EDC/HRE in European countries and their education systems are also instructive and help to answer how to integrate the framework of competences for DC/HR/ID across Europe. These steps, in what is termed a “Policy Cycle”, include:

Policy Formation:

  • having a shared working definition of EDC/HRE;
  • raising awareness of EDC/HRE and making it a policy priority;
  • making regulations on EDC/HRE;
  • recognising and closing the “implementation gaps” between EDC/HRE policy formation and policy implementation.

Policy Implementation:

  • agreeing the necessary strategic supports to turn EDC/HRE into effective practices;
  • addressing the implications for education and training frameworks (including school curricula);
  • addressing training and development needs;
  • promoting democratic governance in education institutions;
  • developing and supporting active participation;
  • assessing learner outcomes;
  • building strong networks and partnerships that involve the key actors in EDC/HRE;
  • developing monitoring and evaluation of EDC/HRE.

Policy Review and Sustainability:

  • developing review measures for EDC/HRE;
  • building a reliable evidence base for EDC/HRE;
  • sharing the outcomes of the evidence base with key actors in EDC/HRE;
  • acting on the outcomes to review and sustain EDC/HRE policies.

31. The Policy Tool also includes a self-evaluation checklist so that policy makers can gauge where their country is in relation to each of these steps. If the terms EDC/HRE are substituted with democratic citizenship, respect for human rights and intercultural dialogue (DC/HR/ID) then the outcome is a robust set of approaches and actions in these steps that, if enacted, will go a long way to ensuring the successful integration of a framework of competences in DC/HR/ID into the overall design of education systems, policies and practices in Europe. The approaches and actions have the advantage of already being aimed at policy makers and being derived from actual policies and practices across European countries.
32. Policy and research literature also highlights a number of issues that need to be considered and actions that need to be taken. As the INCA (International Review of Curriculum and Assessment Frameworks) database of leading developed countries highlights, DC/HR/ID works best where it is an integrated and identifiable aim as part of the broader aims of education.Note In this way, DC/HR/ID is seen publicly to have the same status and value as other key education areas, thus encouraging policy makers and practitioners to value and commit to it by supporting policies and practices at all levels in the education system.NoteNote
33. The recent studies also underline the need to recognise and support a variety of curricular approaches to DC/HR/ID in individual countries. They have identified four main approaches currently applied in European countries: including DC/HR/ID as a separate, standalone curriculum subject; integrating it into other subjects; approaching it in a cross-curricular fashion; defining it through extra-curricular activities. In practice, most European countries adopt a mixture of these approaches. These policy lessons underline that the integration of a framework of competences for DC/HR/ID across Europe will only be successful if the elements of the framework are capable of being flexible and adaptable to a range of education systems and approaches. Integration will not be successful if the framework demands one fixed approach for all countries.
34. The recent reviews of the experiences of European countries also show that it is crucial in terms of integration that the framework of competences in DC/HR/ID is multi-dimensional in its scope. This means that it encompasses and links the development of competence in a variety of contexts and locations that include the school classroom, the whole-school context and links with wider communities (both local to schools and more widely in society). The Eurydice and ICCS reports highlight how the majority of European countries have policies in this area that encourage and promote the active involvement of young people in democratic practices and actions such as student voice and school governance and through community projects and activities. A framework of competences in DC/HR/ID demands opportunities for young people to apply their knowledge, understanding and skills in order to test out how far they have developed these competences through actual experiences and actions in this area. Furthermore, education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue must not stop at the end of secondary school, as is currently the case, if we want young people to put into practice what they have learned on this subject when they reach adulthood.
35. Many countries in Europe currently lack proper assessment of DC/HR/ID in relation to student outcomes and whole-school approaches. Although there is innovative practice in some countries in relation to the assessment of student learning in this area, in many others there is no tangible assessment of student learning and outcomes.Note This means that in many countries there is no means of validating young people’s learning and experiences of DC/HR/ID and no way of assessing the extent of their development of competences. This is a considerable stumbling block to the integration of the framework of competences in DC/HR/ID as teachers and young people may not understand the aims of the framework or how it could work in practice.
36. A related issue is that of whole-school evaluations of DC/HR/ID approaches. While there is evidence that such evaluations are beginning to take place in some countries, there is recognition that they are not the norm in the majority of countries. This presents a considerable gap for policy makers to address if a framework of competences in DC/HR/ID is to be truly successfully integrated across education systems. The framework is likely to be most successfully integrated if it applies at whole-school level and addresses the contexts of the classroom, whole-school and links to communities, as well as learning in the classroom and opportunities to put that learning into practice. It suggests the need for more training for teachers and school leaders.

3.2 Anticipating and assessing the impact of the framework of competences on the functioning of education systems

37. In terms of the overall education system, the adoption of the framework of competences in DC/HR/ID will reorientate the overall aims and goals of education so that they are more rounded. The narrow emphasis on existing core areas of languages, mathematics and science will be broadened through the inclusion and promotion of DC/HR/ID. DC/HR/ID will also be viewed as a key education area of equal status and standing. The framework will also reshape education systems and ensure that they are better at identifying the challenges facing society going forward and educating and equipping young people with the competences needed to meet those challenges head on with confidence and optimism.
38. In terms of education institutions, particularly schools, the framework will demand that such institutions adopt a “joined up”, holistic approach to DC/HR/ID. This will ensure that the area is embedded and connected throughout education institutions in terms of overall ethos and values, and policies and practices in the curriculum, at whole-school level and through links with wider communities.Note It will also impact on classroom ethos by encouraging increased opportunities for young people to experience discussion and debate. The major IEA (CIVED, on civic and citizenship education, and ICCS09, on civic and citizenship education policies and practices) studies both underline the key role of an open classroom climate in promoting higher levels of civic knowledge among young people.Note
39. The framework, if designed and implemented successfully, will have a profound and positive impact on the functioning of education systems and on the functioning of society. It will help to deliver one of the fundamental goals driving DC/HR/ID, as set out in the Council of Europe Charter on education for democratic citizenship and human rights education which is “equipping learners with knowledge, understanding and skills, but also empowering them with the readiness to take action in society in the defence and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”.Note This will be a great accomplishment and will be worth all the efforts in developing the framework and supporting its implementation across education systems.
40. The CD/DH/DI framework of reference is all the more necessary as, in many countries today, there are no effective means of validating young people’s learning and experience in these areas and no means of assessing to what extent they have strengthened these skills.

4 Establishing a strategy and ensuring the necessary political support for optimum implementation of such a framework at European level

41. As far as the policy design and implementation strategy for this framework of reference is concerned, I believe it is worth making a preliminary remark: in a way, the situation is similar to the one that prompted the Council of Europe to draw up the Common European Framework of Reference of Languages (CEFR).Note For example, the methodology of the latter, which takes account of several levels of “individual ability” to use a language, namely the ability to communicate, thus going beyond the stage in which mechanically learned vocabulary is assessed, is highly relevant, even though drawing up a framework of competences for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue is likely to be more complex.
42. The reference levels of the CEFR provide descriptors of competences that can be used to determine language learning objectives and assess the results achieved, namely what the learner is capable of doing in the target language and the quality of his/her performance in the use of that language. It was important to possess examples of easy-to-use descriptors. In the CEFR, they are referred to in a concise, clear and concrete way as “Can do” statements, so that they are easily understood by everyone concerned, including learners. The CEFR is not limited to standardising levels of proficiency and scales of descriptors but also includes examples of scenarios for implementing linguistic diversity in the curriculum and developing multilingual and multicultural education, in accordance with the educational values and principles of the Council of Europe.
43. The CEFR remains a dynamic instrument that can be expanded to take account of the development of the context and particular needs. It has been supplemented by a series of guides and practical tools developed to facilitate its implementation: guides for different user categories and contexts; video and written aids illustrating each level of proficiency; guides describing how to relate language examinations to the CEFR reference levels in a valid and reliable way; guide for the development of language tests and examinations; and a specific website providing numerous practical resources.
44. Taking account of “what works” in DC/HR/ID and the experience gained with the CEFR, it seems to me that the optimum policy design and implementation strategy for a framework of competences in DC/HR/ID should contain five key elements:
  • preparing the ground;
  • making implementation as smooth, flexible and adaptable as possible;
  • being aware of the interrelated stages of the “Policy Cycle” for DC/HR/ID and looking to ensure that all the stages are properly addressed;
  • continually monitoring, assessing and reviewing;
  • promoting the outcomes and benefits

4.1 Preparing the ground

45. The current varying levels of understanding about and engagement with DC/HR/ID among policy makers suggests the need to prepare the ground for a framework of competences in DC/HR/ID across Europe. This should consist of four stages. Stage one is to campaign, with evidence, to improve the awareness about and understanding of DC/HR/ID among policy makers. This should include understanding of democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue as individual dimensions as well as collectively.
46. Stage two is to convince policy makers of the coherence and value of a framework of competences in DC/HR/ID. In this connection, we are delighted that the framework of competences required for a culture of democracy and intercultural dialogue is one of the key elements of the “Council of Europe Action Plan on the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism” adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 May 2015.NoteNote The project will also be part of another transversal Action Plan, currently in preparation, on “Building inclusive societies”. This is an example of clear political support for the acquisition of competences in line with the values of democracy and human rights. The link between DC/HR/ID education and efforts to combat radicalisation of young people through education was also underlined by the UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, and the US Deputy Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, at a meeting on the subject held in Paris on 6 November 2015 during the 38th UNESCO General Conference.Note
47. Stage three is to persuade policy makers that such a framework can enhance other key education areas – languages, mathematics and science – and the overall functioning of education systems and quality of education. Stage four is that the framework can be tied in with supporting developments such as skills for life and the promotion of global competence through PISA 2018.

4.2 Making implementation as smooth, flexible and adaptable as possible

48. It will be important to construct a robust, overarching framework, but one that is flexible and adaptable to the diversity of approaches to and contexts for DC/HR/ID within and across European education systems. The framework should contain a clear definition of what competence in DC/HR/ID means in terms of knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, values and behaviours. It should then enable European countries to decide how best to integrate it with existing policies and practices. The multidimensionality of the framework and States’ ability to adapt it to their specific contexts will be central to its successful implementation.

4.3 Being aware of the interrelated stages of the “Policy Cycle” for DC/HR/ID and looking to ensure that all the stages are properly addressed

49. The Policy Cycle for EDC/HRE, as set out by the Council of Europe based on existing policy and practice in European countries, provides a helpful aide-memoire for policy makers concerning the policy design and implementation strategy for the framework. The three stages of the Cycle – policy formation, policy implementation and policy review and sustainability – are precisely the stages that will need to be successfully negotiated if the framework of competences in DC/HR/ID is to be successfully designed and taken up by European countries in a consistent way. It will be important for policy makers to be aware of the existence of “implementation gaps” between policy formation and policy implementation and the need to address them. In terms of the various stages of the Policy Cycle, there is a number of areas that need to addressed in the implementation strategy for the framework.

Policy formation:

  • encouragement of policies that link teaching and learning about DC/HR/ID with opportunities to put that teaching and learning into practice through active or participatory experiences;
  • support for policies that promote democratic governance across institutions and the involvement of young people;
  • development of policies across all education phases and sectors from pre-school, primary and secondary through to tertiary phases.

Policy implementation:

  • provision of adequate financial assistance and resources for DC/HR/ID;
  • development of a considerable programme of training across all education phases and for school leaders, teachers and support staff to raise awareness about and confidence in approaching DC/HR/ID;
  • building of robust assessment and validation measures and frameworks that enable the measurement of the development of competence in DC/HR/ID for both young people and education institutions.

Policy review and sustainability:

  • need to be clear about the intended outcomes of the framework;
  • importance of constructing measures and an evidence base to monitor and measure outcomes;
  • need to have a dissemination strategy to promote and share outcomes.

4.4 Continually monitoring, assessing and reviewing

50. Though the framework is still at the development stage, it will be important that thought is given to the outcomes of the framework and how the functioning of the framework will be continually monitored and assessed within and across European countries. How the outcomes are used, in terms of strengthening the framework and making it more sustainable in the future, will also be an important dimension of this work.
51. The development of competence descriptors has advanced considerably: around 650 descriptors (20 to 40 per competence) were tested with teachers and other education professionals during summer 2015 via an online survey. The education professionals linked each descriptor to a given competence. Various networks of professionals took part in the exercise. A new bank of descriptors is being developed in preparation for more practical piloting in classroom situations in 2016.
52. A Conference of Ministers of Education will be held in spring 2016. The competences for democratic culture will be one of the key focuses of the conference, which will provide an opportunity to stress the importance of encouraging educators to take part in this piloting process. Meanwhile, work on supporting documents linking the competences to curriculum design, pedagogy and assessment, etc. will begin and the whole framework should come together in time for publication at the end of 2017.

4.5 Promoting the outcomes and benefits

53. The intended outcomes and impact of the framework are likely to be considerable, impacting on education systems in general and all those who engage with and in them – participants, practitioners and stakeholders. It will therefore be crucial to the design and implementation of the framework of competences in DC/HR/ID that consideration is given as to how to publicly promote the outcomes and benefits of the framework to a wide range of audiences both within and across European countries. Such promotion will be crucial if the framework is to be successfully integrated into the daily policies and practices of education systems and of society at large.

5 Closing remarks

54. Education – both formal and non-formal – must foster the development of the competences and knowledge needed for “living together”.
55. In addition to such competences as adaptability, the ability to listen and involve others, critical thinking and the ability to assess context, a key competence is being able to take differences in perspective into consideration. Specific work has been done at the Council of Europe on the question of multiperspectivity in the teaching of history and should be borne in mind when drawing up the framework of competences for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue.NoteNote
56. Language skills, that is proficiency in foreign languages, also promote intercultural dialogue: the ability to directly initiate a dialogue with people from various countries and representing different cultures helps to break down barriers. In addition, knowledge of a language, which is the key vehicle of the culture that it embodies, also enables a person to engage more directly and in greater depth with the culture in question and is therefore complementary to open-mindedness and multiperspectivity.
57. The acquisition of civic knowledge is a bedrock for building positive attitudes and behaviours. Recent studiesNote highlight the positive correlation between civic knowledge and future participation levels, and also with positive attitudes to equality and fairness in society. There is also clear evidence from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS) in England that receiving regular teaching about DC/HR/ID, planned and delivered by specialist teachers, which also includes robust assessment measures, increases civic knowledge and influences the attitudes and behaviour of young people. However, education systems must not simply dispense theoretical knowledge on democracy, but must also endeavour to develop democratic participation and governance in all areas of life, beginning with school.Note They must equip young people with practical skills that will enable them to address future challenges in their lives and in society.
58. The education systems in Europe have not achieved all the expected outcomes; we must therefore question existing arrangements and seek new solutions. In particular, I believe that more humanist and humanitarian education must be provided. Besides national focus, there is a need for a more international and European focus. The report by the member of the French Senate, Jacques Grosperrin, underlines this aspect:Note “Several of the persons heard by the commission of inquiry expressed concern about the decline in the teaching of humanities. For instance, Mr Jean-Pierre Chevènement, former Education Minister, said that it was unfortunate that ‘the great works of literature are no longer taught and the national narrative has been broken’. As vectors of a shared cultural and historical heritage and ‘transmission as much as interpretation disciplines’, the humanities present numerous opportunities for asking questions, giving explanations and fostering commitment to the values of the Republic. … Similarly, Mr Philippe Meirieu said that the teaching of the humanities and literature was vital, as they ‘greatly foster cohesion and the sense of belonging to a common humanity’.”
59. The Progress Report of the World Programme for Human Rights Education draws attention to the need to look not only at the competences of learners, but also at the competences of teachers and trainers in human rights education.
60. It will be necessary, in particular, to adapt curricula and teacher training, to deal with potential perception barriers (for example those resulting from racism and xenophobia), to provide the required (additional) financial means to DC/HR/ID programmes, to ensure proper “recognition” of learning outcomes in DC/HR/IDNote and deliver an effective validation system, capable of assessing not only substantive knowledge in DC/HR/ID, but also the acquisition of suitable attitudes and values.
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