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Citizenship Education

The Ministry for National Education, Higher Education and Research announced the "Great Mobilisation of the School for Values of the Republic", which includes teaching children community spirit, citizenship and a culture of commitment, rejecting inequalities and embracing social interaction. From September 2015 all pupils from primary to high schools are studying a new citizenship education programme.

Citizenship Education

Stated Aims

The 2013 Education law for promoting Republican values at schools, le Loi d'orientation et de programmation pour la refondation de l'école de la République, confirms the aims of citizenship education:

  • For citizenship education, the public education system must prepare pupils to live in society and to become responsible and free citizens, understanding the founding principles and rules of democracy;
  • Learning about citizenship and community life are educational aims that are just as important as mastering academic subjects.
  • To become young citizens, pupils must learn the principles of democracy and acquire civic skills through the education schools provide.
  • Education helps make pupils aware of solidarity and mutual support between generations.
  • Together with the family, the school must guarantee moral and civic education, which includes learning the values and symbols of France and the European Union, their institutions, the national anthem and its history.

Citizenship education is now at the heart of the three major developments in the French educational system that are already underway or in the pipeline:

  • a new Common Core of Knowledge, Skills, and Culture that redefines what all pupils must have acquired by the end of their compulsory education several areas of which refer to media and information literacy;
  • the "mobilisation of schools for the values of the Republic" which includes "Civic Path", or Parcours Citoyen, for all pupils, deployed a "citizens reserve" consisting of over 4,000 adult volunteers to work alongside teachers and encouraged the creation of a media in each lower and upper secondary school;
  • the reform of lower secondary school will offer "practical interdisciplinary teaching" on the theme "information, communication and citizenship"

How we are delivering

  • A programme of moral and civic education was started in September 2015 for all pupils from the start of primary to the end of high school. It is included in the timetable, and involves all teachers, staff who run pupil activities and school managers.
    • Pupils must understand the principles that regulate individual and collective behaviour (discipline), recognize diversity of opinions, beliefs and ways of life (freedom) and build social and political relationships (community of citizens).
    • It promotes respect of rights and the law; equal respect for all people; solidarity; helping one another; cooperation; understanding of the general interest; and participation in democratic life. It combines issues such as fighting against racism and anti-semitism, against prejudice and all kinds of discrimination; rights and duties; the principle of secularism and religious neutrality.
  • Cross-curricular education about media literacy, including online, the press and freedom of speech so pupils learn to read and interpret information and images, sharpen their critical minds and form opinions.
  • Starting at primary school, pupils must learn to make judgements, debate and put forward an argument; and at secondary school they use these skills in all subjects.
    • Appropriate teacher training and support will be introduced.
  • Debating and philosophy workshops for vocational students and apprentices as part of their moral and civic education; and with social and civic activities when they are training in the workplace.
  • Encouraging pupils' participation in initiatives such as:
    • Forming pupils' committees at primary school;
    • Involvement of pupils in local authority educational projects;
    • Support and extra resources for high school students to produce magazines, and for their partnerships with outside media and businesses;
    • The Week against Racism and Antisemitism;
    • Recognition of pupils' work in the community - for example helping children who are in difficulty or disabled, or who have just arrived in France.
  • Involvement of parents in school projects promoting civic and community values.

Educational Actions

Competitions and awards:

  • Human rights are the focus for pupil competitions including the Prix des droits de l'homme - René Cassin, organised in partnership with the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme; the biennial Coupe nationale des élèves citoyens (organised by Initiadroit with ministry support); and the annual Concours d'affiches ‘Agis pour tes droits' (organised by les Francas with ministry support).
  • Others give children an idea of how France's institutions operate, such as the Parlement des Enfants (Children's Parliament) which has been organised by the National Assembly and the Education Ministry since 1994. Republican values are featured in the competition ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité', organised by the Post Office and the Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research, in which competitors design a trio of postage stamps. The Concours des écoles fleuries promotes sustainable development, through gardening and decoration of schools through cross-curricular projects.

Other initiatives:

  • Dedicated weeks and days include the Semaine de la solidarité internationale (International Solidarity Week), Universal Children's Day (in partnership with UNICEF-France), International Human Rights Day, the Semaine de lutte contre le racisme et l'antisémitisme (Week against Racism and Antisemitisme), Semaine de la presse et des médias (Presse and Media Week) and the EU Day of Solidarity between Generations.
  • Dedicated weeks and days include the Semaine de la solidarité internationale (International Solidarity Week), Universal Children's Day (in partnership with UNICEF-France), International Human Rights Day, the Semaine de lutte contre le racisme et l'antisémitisme
  • (Week against Racism and Antisemitisme), Semaine de la presse et des médias (Presse and Media Week) and the EU Day of Solidarity between Generations.
  • Campaigns supported by the ministry are Opération ‘Pièces jaunes' (‘Copper coins') which collects small change for the Hôpitaux de Paris - Hôpitaux de France; the Campagne de la ‘Jeunesse au Plein Air'; and the Ligue d'enseignement's Campagne ‘Pas d'éducation, pas d'avenir!

For the New Programme to Teach Citizenship, click here.

Parcours Citoyen - Civic Path

The Parcours Citoyen helps students understand citizenship education and to become aware of their rights, duties, and responsabilties as they emerge from school as new, active citizens. Working across several areas of teaching, in particular moral and civic education, media and information education, and participating in the Common Core of Knowledge, Skills, and Culture, the Parcours Citoyen helps to transmit the values and principles of the Republic and life in a democratic society. The path is consistent with the teachings students receive throughout their academic career - from primary through secondary school, but also in the extra-curricular activities of the student, formal, informal, and non-formalised.

Parcours Citoyen helps approach the larger subjects in citizenship education such as:

  • the transmisison of Republican values and the principle of laïcité (secularism)
  • gender equality and mutual respect
  • the fight against all forms of discrimination, in particular the prevention and fight against racism and anti-semitism, notably in Europe and the world
  • the prevention and fight against harassment
  • the fight against homophobia
  • environmental education and sustainable development
  • media and information education
  • defense education

The Civic Path of the student rests on:

  • knowledge distributed in the framework of teaching
  • meetings with actors or institutions who work on citizenship projects
  • engagement in projects or educational actions, also related to citizenship

For more information about the Parcours Citoyen in French, click here.

Critical Thinking (L'ésprit critique)

Critical Thinking skills are taught by teachers so that students may gain a better understanding of the world from their ability to interpret it themselves. This is cultivated through a new mindset and a number of resources students can use to be the best judge of information and events around them. Students will learn to be curious, independent, lucid, humble, and active listeners. Students will learn how to become informed, how to evaluate the information they have just learned, how to distinguish between fact and others' interpretations, become aware that there are others in the world who might interpret something differently from themselves, and how to evaluate those interpretations to gain a better understanding for themselves as well.

For further information in French.

For the press release on promoting fundamental citizenship values through education, click here.

For current, up-to-date news and publications, head to the Newsroom here.

What is éduscol?

Eduscol, the website of the Directorate-general for Schools of the French Ministry for National Education, is aimed at education professionals and, primarily, teachers. Its purpose is to provide them with information by presenting official texts and offering resources to support their implementation on the ground.

Mis à jour le 10 mai 2017
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