ESU very much welcomes the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture developed by the Council of Europe. This new educational tool will be key in helping people teach, learn and measure democratic values. We believe that by setting out a number of key attributes – whether values, attitudes, skills or knowledge/understanding – and explaining how these can be defined and measured we can better promote citizenship education. Moreover, it will also strengthen education for democratic citizenship more generally, as a way of helping to tackle radicalisation and extremism.
Democracy is crucial to promoting and maintaining inclusive societies, but people are not born with the competences needed to live in a democratic society – they need to be learnt. Education institutions and other places of learning have a key role to play in this process.
Alongside, ESU also welcomes the Declaration of the 25th Session of the Council of Europe Standing Conference of Ministers of Education on “Securing democracy through education”. This is a very relevant political commitment, aligning with the Council of Europe’s action plan to fight against violent extremism and radicalisation, the charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education or the UN Agenda for Education 2030 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
All these initiatives are extremely relevant for better reflecting the diversity of society in the student body and student participation as a way to become an active citizen and experience democracy. We should not forget that violations to the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, academic freedom of the students and discrimination because their political persuasion, religion, ethnic or cultural origin, sexual orientation, disabilities or social standing are still taking place in some European countries.
Now it’s time to ensure that the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture is adequately implemented at all education levels thought Europe. Adequate monitoring of its implementation and follow it up are crucial steps for its impact and success. ESU calls upon Council of Europe, national governments and student unions to collaborate together in this task.