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Young people are citizens in their own right. They may not all be old enough to vote in general elections or sit on juries, but in almost every other way they have the same rights and duties as older citizens. They have a legitimate stake in society and are entitled to have a say in how it is run.
Citizenship education aims to provide opportunities for young people to develop the expertise and experience needed to use their rights, understand and put into practise their responsibilities and have an influence on what goes on in their communities, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of adult and working life.
Citizenship education is not about trying to fit everyone into the same mould – creating the ‘model’ or ‘good’ citizen. Citizenship Education is education for citizenship – that is, education which aims to help young people learn how to become active, informed and responsible citizens. As such, in any Citizenship programme of study there are three main strands: knowledge, skills and active participation.Citizenship education encourages young people to take an interest in topical and controversial issues and to engage in discussion and debate. It equips pupils to engage critically with and explore diverse ideas, beliefs, cultures, identities and shared values. It offers opportunities for pupils to become active citizens through participation and responsible action, with young people learning how to play an active role in the life of their schools, neighbourhoods, communities and wider society as active and global citizens.
The nature of Citizenship is such that Citizenship lessons are contemporary and interactive. Citizenship is a rich and relevant subject, and this is part of its attraction. Its aim is to empower citizens, and it is this ‘pro-active’ element that makes Citizenship’s focus, content and approach to learning distinctive.