Jongeren worden wereldburgers - Mark Saey | Civiclab


  1. Citizenship deficit

Research, e.g. the International Civic and Citzienship Education Study and Seront-ils des citoyens critiques? (Will they become critical citizens? ), shows that in spite of its high ranking in the OECD PISA studies, Flemish education scores poorly on civic values and knowledge. The government recognizes this.

In Young people become world-citizens we reviewed the national and international research most relevant to citizenship education in Flanders, and made a summary of our own research on project teaching in Flanders educational system.

On that twofold basis we developed an integral approach to this pressing deficit problem.

2. Remedy and effects

The developed approach consists of a model for yearlong transversal or cross-curricular learning trajectories for world-citizenship (Leertrajecten Wereldburgerzin – LWZ) for secondary education, that addresses the lack of an integrating context for the use or application of general knowledge.

These LWZ are woven through 10% of the teaching time in the curricula of (depending on the size of the school) class/year/grades (two consecutive years) based groups, as improved GIP (Geïntegreerde Proeven/Integrated Tests: long since existing yearlong tests in technical, professional and art educational strands of the Belgian system, combining some of the “theory” and the main “practical” courses of each curriculum).

This update and the implementation of LWZ in also the general education strand, is feasible and meaningful when a) Vakoverschrijdende eindtermen/ transversal educational goals or end-terms are integrated thanks to “world-citizenship” as the practical definition or integral/general goal for the contributing courses, and b) enough good practices are developed as serving examples for school teams.

The rotation system for the contributing courses is organized with a “step-by-step plan for moral reasoning”, at the same time solving the questions surrounding the neutrality of education and serving as a structure for active and integral learning. Divided in:

  • Stating the problem
  • Analysis
  • Values (implied by the human rights) and Alternatives
  • Other people’s opinions
  • (Pupils) Personal view or opinion

Each course connects for two or more weeks its own content to the “glocal” LWZ subject (a global problem that occurs locally, or a local problem that is globally relevant) that is worked on by the pupils in the interconnected “knowledge” and “doing” parts of their LWZ project.

In the book diverse programs are revisited and a comparison is made between existing theoretical models to work with transversal goals, or to connect education to present (parliamentary agreed upon) societal demands. Concluding that only the LWZ model is capable of in a feasible and sufficient way draw in all the school factors that influence citizenship and/or civic values:

  • Curriculum
  • Role models/teachers attitudes and values
  • Participation and sensibility
  • Functional school policy
  • (In)equality and/or comprehensivity

First try-outs and some more or less LWZ resembling projects done in the past show the following effects or results. They

  • enhance pupils civic values and knowledge
  • make it possible to implement most transversal goals in one educational practice
  • strengthen the classical transfer of knowledge
  • reduce demotivation
  • safeguard the functions of the transversal goals approach
  • improve school policy and reduce the workload through teamwork and integration of several educational pratices
  • insert a feasible general framework for transversal active learning

The trajectories are evaluated in both a) course connected tests and exercises and b) in general by a jury that meets three times a year and is composed of the teachers involved and external experts:

  • representatives of the private sector (as in the GIP)
  • representatives of civil society (local organisations)
  • representatives of external educational organisations

This way the development of the broad school is (for the first time) based and guided by the curriculum and/or the pedagogical tasks of the school: a LWZ is both a platform for the present social demands on schools and a buffer against simple social pragmatism or instrumentalism.

The implementation of these trajectories will have effects on the sector of external educational organisations. The book offers a concept for reorganization that involves the sector more strongly with the work and planning of teachers, and better structures the demand for its products and services, which will become both larger and more specific at the same time.

3. Illustrative example & course on citizenship

Next to the more theoretical chapters in Young people become world-citizens the other half of the book consists of a detailed report on the first simulation and application of a LWZ.

Based on diaries, lesson material, interviews, tests, exams, assignments and self-evaluations, the book tells the story of The Refugees Project as an intervening and participative research project. (One can find more on TRP under PROJECTS on this website.)

In the report the pedagogical is intertwined with the analysis of the global refugee problem and the situation of people without legal residence in our own country, according to the learning line of a LWZ (from local problem to global insight back to local engagement or opinion on the local configuration of the global issue).

That way Young people become world-citizens gives the reader not only a theoretical framework but also an illustrative or graphic example drawn from practice. For teachers or professors and their students in teacher trainings the book offers, next to methods of the latest project teaching and a reflection on the relationship between present day society and education, a practical course on active citizenship.

Moreover, the chapters are divided according to the levels of responsibility a teacher has:

  • towards society (the why of LWZ)
  • towards the school community (the how of LWZ)
  • towards the pupils (the described teaching practice)

Summed up, the book constructs a platform for all government administrations and institutions, school nets and school teams, educational organizations, teacher trainings and academic researchers, involved in the development of citizenship education.

Thanks to the combination of the generic and integral LWZ model and the platform for all involved, the book delivers a concept that can help international programs, e.g. the EU Education for Democratic Citizenship, to address the diversity of educational systems.

CivicLab advises the government and school nets to implement these LWZ in (at least) the last four years of all schools and strands of secondary education, when in cooperation with CivicLab sufficient good examples are developed. To that end CivicLab has already prepared a draft for the workings on the next project phase.

To order the book Young people become world-citizens: Academia Press/Lannoo (Dutch).  

CivicLab SERVICES includes a study day for schools wanting to set up the LWZ to become a Transitschool – broad school for world-citizens.