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CIVIC EDUCATION AND INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION
Ivan P. Ivanov
1. The Essence of Civic Education
Civic and intercultural education overlap in some respects but differ in others. Both
terms are largely debatable. This necessitates an overview of the main theoretical issues
is basically defined as systematic institutional-political socialization
of young people
. It familiarizes people with their rights and duties, and cultivates civic
consciousness, skills and virtues. Civic education is also associated with the identity of
individuals - group, ethnocultural, national, global - and solves the problems caused by
their differences from the identities of other people (intercultural aspect). That is precisely
where it overlaps with intercultural education
as a trend in contemporary educational
Civic education has two main social functions
: reproductive (stabilizing,
, associated with the reproduction and assertion of the existing social relations
for the purpose of consolidating political power and constitutional order; and constructive
- innovative, direct or indirect contribution of young people to the
establishment of new principles in politics, the economy and lifestyle.
Educators differ over the essence
of civic education. There are two theses in both the
international and the Bulgarian academic communities.
conforms to the collectivistic (holistic) paradigm and expert (enlightening)
educational culture, which views education as a means of cultivating socially valuable civic
qualities and virtues in the young generation, which help the elite in governance. This
thesis goes back to Democritus and Plato, and the concept of the republican citizen
requires a sense of belonging to a particular political community; loyalty to the motherland
(the law, the government); priority of civic duties over private interests. This view is
traditional in Bulgaria, and has been upheld by almost all authors since 1892. Today it is
championed by D. Kolarova (Kolarova 1997), P. Balkanski and Z. Zahariev (Balkanski,
is a variant of the individualistic (subjectivistic) paradigm and of
engineering-communicative education culture, treating education as a means of developing
individual gifts. The theoretical premises of this thesis is the idea of the liberal citizen
expounded by John Locke, Immanuel Kant and Thomas Jefferson. It gives priority to
individual rights and liberties, equality of all people, independence of duties from
circumstance; to recognition of the fundamental differences between them. This approach
is typical of the Anglo-Saxon countries and Protestant culture, as well as of the ideas of
liberal education. In Bulgaria, it was upheld by D. Katsarov in the 1930s, and is now
championed by R. Vulchev (Vulchev 1994).
In historical terms
, the civic principle in the education of young people dates back
to ancient times (Democritus, Confucius, Aristotle). It was particularly strong in the 19th
century, when it was associated with the educational practices of the nation-state. The
prime concerns were teaching civic and ethical knowledge, history, national language
through subjects such as history, native language, political science, law and civic doctrines.
Those practices remained prevalent until the mid-20th century.
The individualistic-pragmatic concept of civic education based on liberalism and the
harmonization of private and public interests eventually gathered momentum in the 20th
century. Issues such as the universality of human rights, the environment, the weakening of
the nation-state as a result of the development of supra-national structures, ideological
pluralism and globalism became dominant, and were no longer dealt with by a particular
The interrelated components of civic education are civic knowledge, civic skills and
consists of fundamental ideas and information that learners must
know and use to become effective and responsible citizens of a democracy.
enable citizens to think and act according to their individual rights and in
the name of the common good. They are two types: intellectual (cognitive)
, enabling the
learner to understand, explain, compare, and evaluate principles and practices of
government and citizenship; and participatory
, involving actions by citizens to participate
in the resolution of public issues. They are associated with definite civic skills and
competences: of decision-making; team work; conflict resolution, attainment of
understanding; action in conditions of stress, conflicts and emergencies; intercultural
relations with the others; personal contribution to civic initiatives and public life.
are the character traits required for the preservation and improvement
of democratic governance and citizenship: self-discipline, civility, compassion, tolerance,
respect for the worth and dignity of each person, integrity and patriotism.
The factors for civic education
vary by nature. The main factors are directly
relevant to the civic identity of the learner: family (nuclear and extended); school (teachers,
curricula, participation); peers (in and outside school); neighbours, youth organizations,
workplace; general public (political leaders, climate). Other factors have an indirect
impact: political, legal, economic and religious processes, institutions and values;
socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, gender stratification; correlation of social values
(individualism and collectivism, power and subordination); allies and enemies(the
country's international positions); heroes, symbols and myths in the national and local
communities; the mass media (institutions and values).
2. Common Elements of Civic and Intercultural Education
The relation between civic and intercultural education in terms of concepts, theories
and practices may be interpreted in various ways: the two may be regarded as equal,
subordinate or independent. This study proceeds from the presumption that they are
subordinate, with civic education playing the leading and definitive role. Civic education
emerged first, and interculturality is just one, albeit among the most important, of the
dimensions of civic relations. On the other hand, in the modern world it is impossible to
form a full-fledged citizen beyond the system of intercultural education.
The relation between civic and intercultural education is codified in a number of
documents of the UN and European international organizations, starting with Article 26 of
the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Next come the 1966 International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Art. 13); the 1989 Convention on
the Rights of the Child (Art. 29); the CSCE Helsinki Document (Art. VI); the 1974
UNESCO recommendations on imbuing the content of education with a spirit of
understanding, cooperation and friendship among peoples, education in the spirit of
fundamental human rights and freedoms [La raccomandazione dell'UNESCO in materia
d'educazione, cooperazione e pacificazione internazionale, d'educazione ai diritti umani e
alle liberta fondamentali (Paris, 19.11.1974)]; Resolution (78) 41 of the Council of Europe
Committee of Ministers on the teaching of human rights of 1978 [Comitato dei ministri del
Consiglio d'Europa: Risoluzione (78)41 sull'insegnamento dei diritti umani (25.10.1978)];
The Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (85) 7 on the Teaching and Learning of
Human Rights in Schools; the 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to
National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; the 1994 Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities (Art. 12, 13 and 14).
An analysis of the cited documents and of concrete programmes on civic and
intercultural education shows that they are in the following relationship.
2.1. Common values
A contrastive analysis of the programmes indicates that the values of intercultural
education are also values of civic education. They are the following: peace and
condemnation of war, brotherhood of people; condemnation of political demagoguery,
fascism, racism and nationalism; equality and condemnation of inequality, recognition of
equal rights of all people on Earth; empathy, development of human sensitivity,
understanding the others, compassion and sympathy for other people's feelings; solidarity,
contribution to the establishment of a more humane society; respect, non-violence against
human nature, care and respect for the culture of "the Others"; strategy of communication
in a spirit of tolerance, eliminating segregation.
Of course, civic education upholds a broader range of values, including civic-legal
values such as democratic participation, patriotism, national identity and civic activism.
2.2. Common Principles
The principles (also called "criteria of achieving civic education" and "global
guidelines") are fundamental tenets in civic education theory. They should be taken into
account in planning the content, strategies of teaching and institutional organization of
The Todesco civic education project of the International Conference on Education
(ICE) of 1994 is a case study of harmonization of the principles of intercultural and civic
education. This project harmonizes three of all five fundamental principles: pluralism
(official recognition of the worth of differences, intercultural dialogue), multi-level
(local, national, regional, global level) and cultural congruence
consideration for a number of factors - demographic, political, technological.)
2.3. Common Elements of the Curriculum
There are several elements in the curriculum
of intercultural education that are
. The purpose is to provide an adequate idea of the contemporary democratic
system, which excludes all forms of discrimination.
. The main issues are the respective national language, bilingualism and
. The purpose is to teach the values of each culture; elimination of
discrimination in all spheres of social life; respect for human rights, humanism, tolerance,
. The main issue is to combine the compulsory nature of civic values and
value-related freedom typical of interculturality.
. The priority is on overcoming national provincialism and limitation;
identifying the historical causes for the emergence of differences among cultures.
. The purpose is to understand the main relationship between democracy,
. Advancing the ideas of community and differentiation (ethnicities, classes,
strata.), interdependent, full-fledged relations, impossibility of upsetting social harmony
. A curriculum from the sphere of cultural anthropology (learning how
a culture is constituted, the verbal and nonverbal instruments of cultural communication),
learning the distinctive features of the different religions and cultures: music; dance;
theatre; diet, food; holidays, rituals, etc.; psychology (familiarization with psychological
Through a number of extra- and para-curricular activities, intercultural education
indirectly fulfills the tasks of civic education.
The various forms of the educational process
(curricular, para-curricular and extracurricular) contribute to the acquisition of civic skills.
Group forms play a leading role, as team work eventually changes the student's way of
thinking, rejecting confrontation with other cultures and fostering reciprocity and
The different programmes on civic education include different elements of
1. The elements of intercultural education are implicit in the main international
programmes on civic education. In the ICE's Todesco project, these are four subject areas:
human rights, democracy, development and peace. Similarly, in the Report of the
International Commission [chaired by Jacques Delors] on Education for the Twenty-first
Century, they are the established rules in society; human rights; tolerance; peace
2. A number of countries in postcommunist Europe are implementing civic education
programmes which include elements of intercultural education. For instance, in the Czech
Republic (the CECR Project) the curriculum has an anticommunist, religious and
nationalist orientation. In Latvia, the DAC civic education course has a strong intercultural
aspect in the sections on "Democratic Society" and "International Relations." Hungary is
applying the programme "Education for Democracy: Let's Build and Live in the Civil
Society," which lists "pluralistic and intercultural education" as one of the six priorities of
3. The Bulgarian experience
. There are several civic education programmes in
Bulgaria. The two most popular ones differ in their approach to intercultural education.
The programme of P. Balkanski and Z. Zahariev
focuses on the national and
implicitly contrasts majority and minorities. The ethnocultural and, in particular, the
intercultural aspects are ignored altogether. For example, the ethnic community is omitted
as a community; the theme "National Identity of the Bulgarian Citizen" is treated from a
nationalist perspective. So is the theme of "Differences and Contradictions in Bulgarian
Society," with an implicit conflict between majority and minority. Interculturality is treated
at a global, state-to-state level only. The theme "Bulgaria's Contribution to World Culture"
ignores the contribution of ethnic minorities and bespeaks ignorance about their cultures;
cultural identification is unilateral, wholly confined to the Slavic world. The different
cultures and dialogue skills are compared only from the perspective of Bulgarian culture.
According to the programme of R. Vulchev
, the main objectives of "inter-cultural
moral training" ("mezhdoukulturnoto vuzpitanie
," the term used by the authors) may be
recognized as objectives of civic education too. This idea is good, but it is overambitious
and unrealistic. It is hard to presume that all tasks of civic education may be solved by
means of inter-cultural moral training. Besides, the programme obviously targets a
particular type of children only (disadvantaged and minority). The effort to blunt
differences is particularly objectionable, i.e. "inter-cultural moral training" is supposed to
3. Variants of Civic and Intercultural Education
3.1. Permanent Civic and Intercultural Education
The main idea in the Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on
Education for the Twenty-first Century is that the education of each citizen should span
their whole life and become part of the system of civil society and democracy. This means
that education should be approached as a global phenomenon - formation of a system of
permanent civic and intercultural education.
Interculturality has experimental significance in preschool and elementary school
The main purpose is to help the child become aware of diversity and acquire experience in
group activities requiring planning and cooperation - to become aware of the community
and to experience common successes and failures. The idea is to convince children of the
worth of group experience (acquired on the basis mainly of games and other group
activities) in comparison with the strictly individualistic orientation. The curriculum raises
the issues of individual rights, civic values and collective welfare; their protection by the
government; cultural and political differentiation in the world. Language acquisition is a
should solve the main tasks of civic education: formation of civic
knowledge, skills and virtues. This is effected through training in all subjects, as well as
through para- and extracurricular activities. Students acquire further experience from team
work, inter-group contacts and growing ethnocultural tolerance as they become aware of
differences; ultimately, this eliminates prejudices and discrimination.
Adult civic education
is necessary because of the variance in the civic knowledge
and the diversity (educational, ethnocultural, etc.) of the population, as well as of the
dynamic changes in the political environment. The priority is not so much on protection of
civil rights as on participation in political processes at various levels (local and global), as
well as cultivation of civic virtues as a basis for civic behaviour: interest in public issues
and affairs; tolerant, caring and considerate attitude to fellow citizens (intercultural aspect);
integrity, kindness and tact, helpfulness to the others; formation of civic conscience. These
are also the priorities in the programmes of adult civic education (Judith A. Boss).
3.2. Civic Education for Global Understanding
The term civic education for global understanding means civic education in the
conditions of globalization, multiculturalism and a growing sense of responsibility to the
planet at large (Charles Titus). This concept is quite different from the traditional one. The
idea is that the global problems of humanity in recent years, including the disposal and regulation
of nuclear weapons, the world-wide difficulties of environmental pollution, shortages of natural resources,
and a rapidly emerging interdependent world economy, have in one way or another transformed the
lives of all people - as a result of which we need a "global civic culture." This calls for changes
in the traditional subject matter and teaching methods of social sciences, with a focus on
the global aspects of history, the economy, politics and geography. The intercultural trends
in education have a pivotal role in this respect.
3.3. Peace Education
According to the theoreticians of peace education, it has moved well beyond the
Utopian dreams of its 19th century founders (pacifist education) to realize very practical
applications for the 21st century (Marcia L. Johnson).
Peace education as we know it evolved in the 1980s, when it took the form of
"conflict resolution." Programmes were developed to train young people in solving topical
issues through communication and negotiation strategies. These programmes include such
elements as training in cross-cultural issues
, interpersonal communication, awareness of
the nature of conflicts (types, scenarios, roles) and development of negotiating and
In the 1990s peace education has spread across the curriculum, providing
opportunities for students to tackle vital issues from numerous perspectives. A globalist
has been included in the curriculum - environmental issues, information and
telecommunications knowledge and skills (the Internet). Teaching respect and tolerance for
cultural differences and those who are different has become a primary educational focus.
3.4. Civic and Intercultural Education Through Social Activities
A number of authors in different countries have established a decline in young
people's civic involvement in the name of the welfare of their country or community in
recent decades. This has been blamed on the lack of spare time; the absence of parental
approval; non-awareness of the duties of the citizen in a democratic society (contrary to full
awareness of their individual rights and freedoms); mistrust of political institutions and
leaders; dominance of an individualistic ideology devaluating service to the community and
Civic education should presumably help change those attitudes, fostering the
awareness that by serving and working for the community, you are working for yourself
(Judith A. Boss). Citizens achieve their individual interests through voluntary civic
in governmental programmes and voluntary established nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) - charity, religious, sports, environmental, artistic, etc. Through them
they acquire knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes that are at the core of democracy. Many
of the voluntary associations of civil society counter-balance the abuse of power by the
The civic educational system employs certain social forms of training. Participation
in them is implicitly relevant to interculturalism, since it confronts students with the need
of decision-making and action in a multicultural environment on a day-to-day basis.
, or learning by doing, is a classical form of civic education -
along with outdoor education, i.e. education that is not bound to school settings. These
forms use the student's whole environment (natural, social and cultural) as a source of
knowledge. The main idea is to promote learning from experience and enrichment of nearly
Four main types of outdoor education are employed in the civic education of
. Adventure education aims to teach environmental awareness
and build self-confidence; self-control, self-discipline, independence and assertiveness;
interpersonal competences (intercultural approach
); leadership skills; and decision-making
skills through activities that include a certain amount of stress or risk.
. Cultural journalism studies the living environment, mainly in
the past (magazines and books with local history commemorative pamphlets, folklore and
, etc.) for the purpose of teaching students to protect the collective civic
traditions. The presumption is that in a society that promotes individualism in countless
ways, understanding the value of certain civic traditions can provide the basis for
. Participatory research studies the life of different
communities, their problems and concerns. It involves "field studies" of issues subjected to
group discussion for the purpose of proposing decisions and involving students in this
. Civic responsibility also entails a willingness to engage in
community service, as well as political activism. Service learning is one form of outdoor
education that has been well developed in recent decades, with a number of organizations
offering resources: Scouts, Red Cross, as well as the Pioneer Children and Komsomol
organizations in communist Bulgaria. It is a bridge between school, community, family and
Programmes on planned involvement of young people in public activities have been
developed on this basis and coordinated by schools and the respective institutions. These
projects are integrated into the curricula and associated with civic education. This enables
students to use their social experience for critical reflection in the classroom during
discussions on the role of the citizen in society.
Service learning is also a bridge to parents. To judge from experience, many parents
who are indifferent to their children's school and upbringing (especially to the purely
academic aspect) readily offer advice and even become personally involved in students'
social activities. This applies especially to the less educated, people with social problems
similar to those tackled by their children, as well as to parents who were public activists
themselves. The parents thus take an interest in school and become a very important part of
3.5. Civic and Intercultural Education and Leadership
The traditional charismatic or authoritarian leader does not meet the theoretical or
practical standards of democratic civil society, which requires decentralized and
participatory leadership with specific competences, aimed at structuring and guiding civic
activities that are essential for a community determined to organize itself, to pursue goals
and priorities, make decisions, resolve conflicts and attain those goals.
A number of countries have special programmes developing leadership skills in civil
society. They include conceptual, motivational, ethical and behavioural (associated with
skills) components, and usually last two or three years. Much of their content is
. This applies to aspects such as leadership in the formation of a point of view
on group identity and future objectives; assistance in harmonized community decision-
making; intra-group conflict resolution; establishment of group legitimacy; coalition with
3.6. Civic and Intercultural Education and Language and Literature Training
Language and literature training
also contribute to civic education, since they form
Students should be acquainted with literary works that shed light on the national
history and values. This should help them build their civic identity. In reading, students
should take national pride but also realize that the progress of history is not faultless. A
good literary curriculum provides a balance of the national social and political experience.
Literature training should help character-building with clear moral and intellectual
value dimensions by familiarizing students with respective literary role models, symbols of
civic virtues such as freedom of choice; individual initiative, responsibility and conscience;
courage, hope, optimism, ambition; patriotism; family values; self-criticism; concern for
the country's environment; indignation at social injustice.
The literary curriculum should also teach students about the life of people in other
countries or communities that are different from their own one (intercultural aspect
placing an emphasis on universal cultural values.
Civic education for non-speakers of the official language
. There is an urgent need
for civic education of children who do not speak the official language. Those children enter
school with family role models that are often in conflict with their new school environment.
The reason is that the conditions at school (school culture, rules, student and civic rights
and duties) are different from those in their family. That is why they have a vital need of
civic education in order to live in harmony with the civic institutions.
Learning the official language (Bulgarian, in our case) is an important element of the
civic educational process. Language is a prime expressive device and an essential
component of culture. Students reach certain levels of language competence by studying
subject matter relevant to understanding political principles and methods, and by learning
values and skills essential in effective citizen participation.
Hence language teachers are required to update their knowledge and skills on the
basis of social and political sciences. For their part, in introducing the respective terms,
social sciences teachers should include language when teaching students from minority
cultures. Both groups of teachers may thus benefit from expanding knowledge in the sphere
of civic education and its relation to intercultural education.
The preferred methods and means of training are demonstrations, object lessons, role
play and compulsory use of new words (terms of civic education) in the active vocabulary.
Elementary school and social sciences teachers can benefit from the professional
expertise in the sphere of intercultural education. Students can be taught to take a more
sensitive and effective approach to cultural diversity in the classroom, so as to get a better
understanding of the importance of the respective issue at the national and global levels.
1. Balkanski, P. and Z. Zahariev. 1998. Vuvedenie v grazhdanskoto obrazovanie
Introduction to Civic Education
]. Sofia.IK "Laska"
2. Kolarova, D. 1997. "Grazhdansko obrazovanie v srednoto ouchilishte
Education at Secondary School"].- In: Posoki
, No. 2, 3.
3. "Learning: the Treasure Within. Report to UNESCO of the International Commission
[chaired by Jacques Delors] on Education for the Twenty-first Century." 1998.Sofia.
4. "UNESCO: grazhdansko obrazovanie
" ["UNESCO: Civic Education"] 1996.- In:
5. Vulchev, R. 1994. Kniga za Ouchitelya
[A Handbook for Teachers
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