why do we need to study citizenship education
"Nah, Miss! They can't do that! " That was one comment from a student whose engagement in most lessons is usually limited to how best to annoy the teacher. Then another, which really took me by surprise: "How can we do something about it? "
The youngsters were responding to the news that might mean the end of citizenship as a statutory subject in Britain. The consultation process ends today. As a new citizenship teacher on the Teach First scheme, the statements felt like success in my classroom in west London. In September, I started teaching a topic that has only this year been introduced as a discrete subject for all key stage 3 students. The task seemed a particularly daunting one, given the suspicion of many students and parents alike of a new subject. Eight months down the line, 39 students at Villiers high school have chosen to study citizenship as a full course GCSE. Although new to the timetable as a lesson, citizenship is one that embodies the ethos of everyday life at Villiers. The students are encouraged to play an active role in the school, from Democracy Day, during which the head boy and girl are elected, through to the junior leadership team, house councils and many other roles that students can play in the running, decision-making and tracking of school life and progress.
The school also has the privilege of working with Amnesty International on its Human Rights Friendly Project, and a team of passionate students and teachers are developing the school structure to ensure human rights are upheld and promoted at all levels across the school. I have to agree with journalist Alastair Campbell's insistence that: "We need more citizenship education, not less. " The students at Villiers are in a particularly privileged position, as citizenship has as much prominence on the timetable as any other humanities subject. In conversation with citizenship colleagues across the country, I realise that this is rarely the case. As a subject, citizenship has the power to motivate and educate young people into becoming thoughtful, active citizens who engage with, and participate in, public life. It is not enough to assume that young people will somehow acquire this knowledge without being educated in it. As for the students' distress at the potential cutting of citizenship education? My class wrote letters to their MP, signed a petition on the website of Democratic Life, an organisation that promotes the advantages of teaching citizenship, and created posters and leaflets to put up around school, raising awareness of this campaign and encouraging others to participate.
Proof, if it were needed, that they are developing into interested and active citizens. They eagerly await a response. Alicia Brown is a citizenship teacher at Villiers high school, west London Citizenship education has been one of the most important aspects of the human society from the beginning of time. We can see traces of citizenship education in our history and every part of humanity has vested their interests in getting educated and improving their quality of life. We can even go to the extent of saying that without citizenship education, most societies would not be able to exist and die. Citizenship education is not limited to going to school or college any more. It means acquiring knowledge from every possible way in order to improve the quality of life. Citizenship education has the potential to help individuals move up in the world, look for better jobs, and find great success in life. Citizenship education is the key to your lifestyle, your job roles, your salary, your kids futures and a lot more.
Therefore, no one can deny the importance of citizenship education in our society. While we all agree that citizenship education is the only way towards a better and improved society, there is a major hindrance in this since we do not understand the problems faced in villages and small towns where even basic citizenship education is difficult to impart. In India, 55% of the population is illiterate because a large part of our country resides in villages and towns where it is difficult to inculcate the importance of citizenship education. The villagers believe in cultivating crops and harvesting to get their daily income and they want their children to be a part of this as well. Most girls in villages are married at a young age and they have to start managing homes and indulge in household chores at an age where they should be attending college and making a career for themselves. It is important to reach out to such villages and towns and help in imparting citizenship education. With the right kind of knowledge, many of our country s problems can be solved for the future. The movement that can gain even more momentum if people are educated and they understand the importance and need for a cleaner nation.
The skills learned in citizenship education can help individuals scale new heights of perfection not just in their career but also in the society. Children are the fastest learners and immediately grasp new concepts taught to them (checkout UNESCO s site for more info). If we want to improve the citizenship education scenario of India, we have to start with the children and ensure that primary citizenship education is given compulsorily to every child of the country. Today, the government is taking necessary actions to solve this problem of quality citizenship education by introducing various programs and reforms for the under privileged. In order to support these causes and help children gain access to basic citizenship education, large corporations can also come forward and extend monetary support which will surely go a long way in making a child s future bright and leading our nation towards development. Citizenship education is the one and only way towards creating a better and informed society. When a society is well-educated, a lot of the problems faced in our everyday lives will be transformed into solutions.
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