What you need to know about global citizenship education

For centuries, common aspirations for mutual respect, peace, and understanding were reflected in traditional concepts across cultures and civilizations – from 'ubuntu' (I am because of who we all are) in African philosophy to 'sumak kawsay' (harmony within communities, ourselves and nature) in Quechua. Although the term "global citizenship education" (GCED) was only coined in 2011, the values it represents have been central to UNESCO's mission since its founding in 1947.

By building peace through education and reminding humanity of our common ties, UNESCO has long championed the ideas now formalized as GCED. As our world grows increasingly interdependent, GCED is more vital than ever for international solidarity and inspiring learners of all ages to positively contribute to their local and global communities. But what exactly does global citizenship education entail, why it matters today, and how UNESCO is driving this movement?

What’s the idea behind global citizenship?

Unlike citizenship – special rights, privileges and responsibilities related to "belonging" to a particular nation/state, the global citizenship concept is based on the idea we are connected not just with one country but with a broader global community. So, by positively contributing to it, we can also influence change on regional, national and local levels. Global citizens don't have a special passport or official title, nor do they need to travel to other countries or speak different languages to become one. It's more about the mindset and actual actions that a person takes daily. A global citizen understands how the world works, values differences in people, and works with others to find solutions to challenges too big for any one nation.

Citizenship and global citizenship do not exclude each other. Instead, these two concepts are mutually reinforcing. 

What is global citizenship education about?

Economically, environmentally, socially and politically, we are linked to other people on the planet as never before. With the transformations that the world has gone through in the past decades – expansion of digital technology, international travel and migration, economic crises, conflicts, and environmental degradation – how we work, teach and learn has to change, too. UNESCO promotes global citizenship education to help learners understand the world around them and work together to fix the big problems that affect everyone, no matter where they're from.

GCED is about teaching and learning to become these global citizens who live together peacefully on one planet. What does it entail?

Adjusting curricula and content of the lessons to provide knowledge about the world and the interconnected nature of contemporary challenges and threats. Among other things, a deep understanding of human rights, geography, the environment, systems of inequalities, and historical events that underpinned current developments;

Nurturing cognitive, social and other skills to put the knowledge into practice and make it relevant to learners' realities. For example, thinking critically and asking questions about what's equitable and just, taking and understanding other perspectives and opinions, resolving conflicts constructively, working in teams, and interacting with people of different backgrounds, origins, cultures and perspectives; 

Instilling values that reflect the vision of the world and provide purpose, such as respect for diversity, empathy, open-mindedness, justice and fairness for everyone;

Adopting behaviours to act on their values and beliefs: participating actively in the society to solve global, national and local challenges and strive for the collective good.

What UNESCO does in global citizenship education

UNESCO works with countries to improve and rewire their education systems so that they support creativity, innovation and commitment to peace, human rights and sustainable development. 

Provides a big-picture vision for an education that learners of all ages need to survive and thrive in the 21 st century. One key priority is updating the  1974 Recommendation Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms , the document underpinning this work.   

Supports the development of curricula and learning materials on global citizenship themes tailored for diverse cultural contexts. Among many examples are the general guidance document on teaching and learning objectives of global citizenship education or recommendations on integrating social and emotional learning principles in the education process.

Studies the positive impact of learning across subjects and builds linkages between sectors and spheres . One of the key focus areas is the Framework on Culture and Arts Education, in which UNESCO highlights the positive impact learning of the arts and through the arts has on academic performance, acquisition of different skills and greater well-being, as well as broadening of the horizons.

Collaborates with partners across UNESCO programmes and the broader UN system to address contemporary threats to human rights and peace and infuse the principles of understanding, non-discrimination and respect for human dignity in education. Among others, UNESCO leads the global education efforts to counter hate speech online and offline, address antisemitism, fight racism, educate about human rights violations and violent pasts.

Monitors how the core values of global citizenship education are reflected in and supported by education policy and the curriculum to deliver it effectively. For example, by collecting global data on this indicator every four years through a survey questionnaire designed for the 1974 Recommendation.

Promotes international collaboration in education through  UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs , and  UNESCO Associated Schools Network , connecting over 12,000 educational institutions worldwide.

Why does UNESCO prioritize global citizenship education?

Quality education is among 17 Sustainable Development Goals put forth by the United Nations, where GCED is mentioned as one of the topic areas that countries must promote. While leading the global efforts to achieve this goal, UNESCO sees education as the main driver of human development that can accelerate progress in bringing about social justice, gender equality, inclusion, and other Goals. 

UNESCO believes that only an education that provides a global outlook with a deep appreciation of local perspectives can address the cross-cutting challenges of today and tomorrow. This vision is reaffirmed in the Incheon Declaration made in 2015 at the World Education Forum and further reflected in UNESCO's Futures of Education report.     

Based on the evidence that UNESCO has accumulated on GCED impact, learners who benefit from such education from early stages become less prone to conflicts and are more open to resolving them peacefully while respecting each other's differences. It has also proven successful in post-conflict transformation. For example, discussing the root causes of human rights violations that occurred in the past helps to detect alarming tendencies and avoid them in the future. 

How is GCED implemented?

GCED is not a single subject with a set curriculum but rather a framework, a prism through which education is seen. It can be delivered as an integral part of existing subjects – from geography to social studies – or independently. UNESCO supports the dissemination of GCED on different levels and in multiple areas of life beyond the classroom.

On a policy level: Governments can develop national strategies and frameworks that recognize the importance of understanding local issues from a broader global perspective and prioritize education programmes that reflect this vision. 

In the classroom: Teachers can incorporate content and materials that build awareness of global issues and intercultural understanding. For instance, in Geography, pupils can learn about climate change and the distribution of resources. In Social Sciences, they find out how environmental degradation impacts children's rights worldwide. In Science, they discover how trees soak up carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and can help tackle climate change. Teachers can also assign students a group project where they will have to devise a campaign to address climate change in their local community.

Out of school: Museums and cultural institutions can design exhibits and educational materials that inspire global citizenship. Exchange programs allow young people to broaden their horizons by visiting other communities and countries.

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  • Civic education

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What is Global Citizenship Education?

According to the Global Citizenship Foundation, Global Citizenship Education (GCED) can be defined as a transformative, lifelong pursuit that involves both curricular learning and practical experience to shape a mindset to care for humanity and the planet, and to equip individuals with global competencies to undertake responsible actions aimed at forging more just, peaceful, secure, sustainable, tolerant and inclusive societies. GCED is an approach to education that helps individuals to develop the skills, knowledge and values they need to become active, responsible, and responsive citizens who contribute to building more peaceful, just and sustainable societies.

What are the Conceptual Dimensions of Global Citizenship Education?

According to the UNESCO , Global Citizenship Education covers three conceptual dimensions or domains of learning:

  • ‍ Knowledge (Cognitive)
  • Socio-Emotional (Affective)
  • Behavioral (Psychomotor)

It is important for educators to understand all three dimensions in order to create a holistic learning experience for their students. The knowledge or cognitive dimension of GCED focuses on developing knowledge about global citizenship, such as understanding human rights, social justice, and sustainable development. ‍ The socio-emotional learning or affective dimension focuses on developing positive attitudes and values related to global citizenship, such as respect for diversity, empathy, and solidarity.  ‍ The behavioral or psychomotor dimension focuses on developing the skills and competencies needed to take action as a global citizen, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication.

How can you become a global citizen?

A Global Citizen is someone who is open-minded, curious, compassionate, collaborative, co-creative, inclusive, non-discriminatory, responsible, reflective, and well-informed individual. To be a global citizen it is not necessary travel to different countries or know multiple languages. Becoming a global citizen is a lifelong learning process that requires continuous reflection of our perspectives. To become a global citizen means one is a life-long learner ready to learn, unlearn, and relearn. A global citizen is someone who is aware and acknowledges the multiple concentric identities that transcend geographical or political boundaries and takes action towards human and planetary flourishing. ‍ One can be and become a Global Citizen even without traveling to other country or speaking another language. Global Citizenship is all about our mindsets and our actions. To become a global citizen one needs to develop empathy, compassion, mindfulness, and critical inquiry towards issues, challenges, conflicts involving other human beings. A Global Citizen neither has a passport or official status but becomes part of this broader membership, simply by taking an active and reflective actions in their communities towards shaping a more inclusive, just, equitable, peaceful, secure, sustainable world for all.

Why teach Global Citizenship Education?

The world as we know it today is marred with conflicts, challenges, catastrophes, and crises that need our immediate attention. Climate change, poverty, illiteracy, hunger, violent extremism, and xenophobia are but a few of the many issues that the world continues to grapple with, even today. Global citizenship is a call to action — for people to come together in realizing their role and shared responsibilities of protecting the planet, fostering peace, ensuring global prosperity, respecting diversity, and advancing humanity through partnerships. We believe there is no global without local and as Mahatma Gandhi said ‘If you want to change the world, start with yourself.’ Global Citizenship Education provides a lens to view issues and challenges through, what we at the Global Citizenship Foundation call as “Two-Systems Thinking”. Where you “Think and Act, both global and local” instead of just “Thinking Global and Acting Local”. Global Citizenship Education aims to instill in learners the values, attitudes and behaviors that support responsible global citizenship.

Our Case for Global Citizenship Education

The concept of Global Citizenship is an old idea, and global leaders, educators, and practitioners recognize that the concept of Global Citizenship is relevant today more than ever. Global Citizenship Education inspires and empowers individuals to:

  • Reflect on their biases and assumptions
  • Value diversity and inclusion
  • Develop a greater understanding of countries, communities, and cultures around the world; events shaping our world
  • Explore questions about democracy, justice, inequality, governance, sustainability, and organization
  • Learn to work together to create solutions that try to address local, national, and global challenges
  • Enhance knowledge, skills, and competencies to make positive contributions to society as informed and responsible global citizens
  • Take Action towards achieving a more just, inclusive, peaceful, prosperous, secure, and sustainable world for all
  • Realize one’s capacity for change and the ability to take one’s place as responsible global citizens

As a result, Global Citizenship Education also prevents generations from the scourge of hate, radicalization, extremism, and violence. Thereby, inspiring learners to be part of the solution to the problems faced across the planet.

Impetus on Global Education

The Education 2030 Agenda and Framework for Action , notably Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education , mandates the fostering of Education for Global Citizenship by calling on countries to “e nsure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development ”.

Importance of SDG 4.7

Target 4.7 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 intends to realize the social, humanistic and moral purposes of education.Target 4.7 is a passport to ensuring Quality Education, preparing young people for life. It explicitly links education to other SDGs and captures the transformative aspirations of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Role of Educational Institutions in Fulfilling the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 4 and Target 4.7

The concept of global citizenship is embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals through SDG 4: Ensuring Inclusive and Quality Education for All and Promote Life Long Learning, which includes global citizenship as one of its targets. ‍ By 2030, the international community has agreed to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including global citizenship. ‍ Educational Institutions have a responsibility to promote global citizenship by fostering in educators and learners that they are members of both their local and larger global community and can use their skills and education to contribute towards these communities.

Our Whole-Child GCED Framework

The Framework that guides us in fostering Global Citizenship Education in formal and non formal education systems include:

  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Libré Pedagogy
  • DEED Approach to Teaching and Learning
  • Core themes of Global Citizenship Education
  • GCED Innovative Mindset and GCED School Code for holistic imprementation strategy

The maxim "Think Global, Act Local" perhaps best suits the last century. This century demands that we develop two-systems thinking. That is to "Think and Act Both Local and Global." — Aaryan Salman, President, Global Citizenship Foundation

Global Citizenship is Inspired by Ancient Wisdom

The philosophy of global citizenship across cultures and civilizations…

African Philosophy

umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (In Zulu Language)

Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning "humanity towards others" or "I am because of who we all are" .

Indian Philosophy

अयं निज: परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् । उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥ —Hitopadesha: 1.3.71

Transliteration: "Ayam nijaH paro veti gaNanaa laghuchetasaam udaaracharitaam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam" Translation: The thought that one person is related to me and another is not is that of the narrow-minded. For the broadminded, however, the whole world is one family.

仁 (Ren: “two-man-mindedness”) ‍ —Analects of Confucius

Definition: “Wishing to be established oneself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged oneself, seeks also to enlarge others.” Relationship between two humans: humanity, benevolence

South American Philosophy

sumak kawsay ‍ (In Quechua Language)

In Quechua Sumak Kawsay roughly translates into “good living” or the “good life,” however it means much deeper than this. Throughout South America, it is a way of living in harmony within communities, ourselves, and most importantly, nature.

"I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world." ‍ —Plutarch, Of Banishment

Throughout the history of humankind, many people including Socrates declared to be citizens of the Earth.


The Global Citizenship Foundation is a registered not-for-profit specialist organization with a mandate to foster active global citizenship and Global Citizenship Education (GCED). The seats of the Global Citizenship Foundation are Tallinn, Estonia in the European Union and the National Capital Territory of Delhi in India.

Copyright 2022 © Global Citizenship Foundation. Except where otherwise noted, resource content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Website Maintained by Office of Digital Communications, Global Citizenship Foundation


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topic in citizenship education

This publication, titled Global Citizenship Education: Topics and learning objectives, is the first pedagogical guidance from UNESCO on global citizenship education. It is the result of an extensive research and consultation process with experts from different parts of the world. This guidance draws on the UNESCO publication Global Citizenship Education: Preparing learners for the challenges of the 21st century and the outcomes of three key UNESCO events on global citizenship education: the Technical Consultation on Global Citizenship Education (September 2013), as well as the First and Second UNESCO Fora on Global Citizenship Education, organized in December 2013 and January 2015 respectively. Before it was finalized, the guidance was field-tested by education stakeholders in selected countries in all regions to ensure its relevance in different geographical and socio-cultural contexts. Following the foundational work of UNESCO to clarify the conceptual underpinnings of global citizenship education and provide policy and programmatic directions, this document has been developed in response to the needs of Member States for overall guidance on integrating global citizenship education in their education systems. It presents suggestions for translating global citizenship education concepts into practical and age-specific topics and learning objectives in a way that allows for adaptation to local contexts. It is intended as a resource for educators, curriculum developers, trainers as well as policy-makers, but it will also be useful for other education stakeholders working in non-formal and informal settings.

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Global citizenship education: reflections and practical guidance from unesco.


Within the global education community, the current understanding of quality education includes developing knowledge and skills for global citizenship and sustainable development. What exactly does global citizenship education entail? UNESCO has released curriculum guidance and a background report to answer this question.

The Sustainable Development Goals have brought a global level of attention to a range of educational quality issues that extend far beyond just literacy and numeracy. Target 4.7 of the SDGs calls for ensuring “that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

While some countries already incorporate these objectives into their educational plans and curricula, for many others this global target may contain unfamiliar ideas and raise a number of questions. Anticipating these concerns, UNESCO began in 2013 to host a series of international consultations on what global citizenship education entails and how it can be implemented. These consultations resulted in a report, Global Citizenship Education: Preparing Learners for the Challenges of the 21st Century , and more recently in a field-tested curricular guidance document, Global Citizenship Education Topics and Learning Objectives .

The curricular guidance defines global citizenship as “a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity,” emphasizing “political, economic, social and cultural interdependency and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global.” Global Citizenship Education (GCE) in turn “aims to be transformative, building the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that learners need to be able to contribute to a more inclusive, just and peaceful world.”

UNESCO’s curricular guidance defines three key learning outcomes in the cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural domains, and describes three corresponding learner attributes that GCE should aim to develop. These are further developed into nine suggested topic areas, as follows:

Global Citizenship Education topics

The curriculum guidance document further specifies the learning objectives to be attained under each of these topics, at each level of the basic education system (from pre-primary to upper secondary), and details the key themes to be covered at each level.

Together with the earlier report , this UNESCO guidance covers a range of fundamental questions that education planners may have about GCE. Responses to some of these questions are summarized below:

Does GCE reflect our national values?

Global citizenship education is based on values that are increasingly being considered essential on the international stage. Nonetheless, the UNESCO report recognizes that there continues to be debates and points of tension around this idea. Some of the issues the report identifies include: differing views regarding whether to promote global solidarity or global competition, reconciling local and global identities and interests and the extent to which education is allowed to become a means for challenging the status quo. The reflections on these issues contained in the report can be helpful in thinking through the deeper value considerations that must go into designing approaches to GCE within a specific national context.

How can we find room in our curriculum for a new course on GCE?

The UNESCO report states that “GCE is not a separate subject. Rather, it is a learning process focusing not only on what students learn but also how they learn.” Certainly, GCE may be offered as a stand-alone subject. But the UNESCO guidance also highlights many other possibilities, including influencing school-wide priorities and the overall school ethos with global citizenship values and practices; integrating GCE within existing subjects such as “civics, social studies, environmental studies, geography, history, religious education, science, music and arts”; promoting GCE through cross-disciplinary collaborations between teachers of different subjects; using information and communications technology to help connect students with their peers in other parts of the world; using sports and the arts; and promoting youth-led and community-based initiatives that take action to address certain citizenship and sustainable development concerns.

What does GCE look like in practice?

The UNESCO report and curricular guidance both cite numerous examples of educational initiatives around the world that incorporate elements of GCE. Although these examples are not very detailed, educators may gain an understanding of what an effective GCE lesson or experience looks like. The report acknowledges that in most countries there is a dearth of pedagogical materials—such as textbooks, supplementary reading materials, multimedia, and other learning tools—that are specifically designed to support teachers in implementing global citizenship education. The guidance document states that “UNESCO would welcome suggestions and examples of research and practice for future editions.”

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What Type of Citizenship Education; What Type of Citizen?

About the author, henry maitles.

Education for citizenship raises key questions—what is education for? What is the role of the school in developing positive attitudes amongst young people? How can controversial issues be raised in the classroom? How do we develop critical citizens?

Citizenship is a compulsory element in most democracies throughout Europe, North America and the Pacific (Crick, 2000; Ostler & Starkey, 2005; Print, 2007; Kiwan, 2008). Research suggests that political education in schools in western democracies emphasizes political institutions, rights and responsibilities of citizens, debates on current issues and moralism in various combinations (Borhaug, 2008).

The largest international survey, the International Civil and Citizenship Education Study/International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (ICCS/IEA) study (Schultz et al., 2010), involved some 140,000 students (about 14 years of age) and 62,000 teachers in 38 countries. In terms of content areas, the topics that the ICCS countries most frequently nominated as a major emphasis in civic and citizenship education were human rights (25 countries), understanding different cultures and ethnic groups (23 countries), the environment (23 countries), parliamentary and governmental systems (22 countries), and voting and elections (20 countries). Topics less frequently nominated as a major emphasis were communications studies (14 countries), legal systems and courts (13 countries), the economy and economics (12 countries), regional institutions and organizations (12 countries), and resolving conflict (11 countries). Only five countries nominated voluntary groups as a major emphasis. However, another finding of note is the significant decrease in civic content knowledge scores between 1999 and 2009 in a number of countries that had comparable data from both civic education surveys: only one country had a statistically significant increase in civic content knowledge among lower secondary students over the past decade. This is worrisome as the decade was meant to be one permeated by education for citizenship and, in that context, we might have expected an increase in this kind of knowledge and understanding.

Students were far more likely to report school-based civic participation than involvement in activities or organizations outside of school. On average, across participating countries, 76 per cent of ICCS students reported having voted in school elections and 61 percent reported voluntary participation in music or drama activities. About 40 percent of students said that they had been actively involved in debates, taken part in decision-making about how their school was run, taken part in school assembly discussions, or been candidates for class representative or the school parliament. Involvement in groups helping the community and in charity collections was the most frequent form of participation among lower secondary school students across the ICCS countries.


Academics and commentators continue to question the motives behind the introduction of citizenship education. Yet, most would agree with Hahn (1998 and 1999) and Print (2007), who believe that it is the responsibility of schools to teach about democracy and prepare students to be effective democratic citizens. Kerr and Cleaver (2004) point out that many teachers view citizenship education as a politically fashioned quick fix. Rooney, (2007) takes this issue further urging us to be wary of citizenship education which he states can be viewed as a programme of behaviour modification and that it is not the responsibility of teachers and schools to solve political and social problems or issues of low voter turnout and political apathy. Indeed, he points out that citizenship education has thus far failed to reconnect young people to the political system or improve participation rates. Several authors (Lister et al., 2001; Whiteley, 2005; Kiwan 2008) highlight the fact that there is no empirical evidence of a direct correlation between citizenship education and formal political participation.

Whiteley (2005) points out that the expected improvement in civic engagement with the introduction of citizenship education is offset by other factors including the widespread feeling that governments don’t deliver on promises and scandals involving corruption and cynicism from many leading parts of society.

Further, while there is general agreement as to the desire to have a politically aware citizenry, it must be noted that there is no universal agreement as to the value of citizenship, political literacy, activism or pupil voice in schools per se (Lundy, 2007; Whitty and Wisby, 2007; Thornberg, 2008). Rooney (2007), for example, argues that to believe that these kinds of initiatives can be developed in the current school system undermines the very nature of education and makes teachers responsible for the ills of society.


Rising engagement with single-issue politics such as involvement in overseas wars, inspiring events such as the Arab Spring, world poverty, environmental and animal welfare issues, would appear to suggest that young people in western democracies, although alienated from formal politics and voting, are active and interested in single-issue campaigning politics where they can see results from their actions (Torney-Purta et al. 1999; Hahn, 1998; Lister et a l., 2001; Maitles, 2005; Schultz, 2011). Kiwan (2008) cites research by Pattie (2004), which found that individualistic participation is common, challenging assertions that people are politically apathetic.

Indeed, although a positive driver towards education for citizenship stems from attempts to promote democratic citizenship, human and participation rights at the local, national and global levels—rights which are enshrined in international convention such as the United Nations Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Act (Ostler and Starkey, 2001; Kerr and Cleaver, 2004; Benton et a l., 20 08)—Print (20 07) point out that such involvement can be episodic and should be treated with caution. Further, we must be aware t hat many schools see charity activities per se as a way of developing global citizenship. And, even within this, there can be a lack of any understanding as to how the money is used and rarely any discussion around the causes of poverty. Holden and Minty (2011) in t heir study of some 200 school students in England found that the students could name a charity or discuss charity work or ecological work they had been involved in, but had little understanding of the broader issues, such as the complex reasons behind world problems. Further, that they saw this as the key element that the school encouraged in terms of citizenship; nearly all discussions were on personal choice (fair trade, no littering) rather than any real discussion on poverty, conflict or wider ecological issues.


Inside the school, there is the thorny issue of whether one only learns about democracy or also lives it. If we take the ‘living’ model, then there are implications for our schools and indeed for society as a whole. Firstly, there is the difficult issue of whether democratic ideas and values can be effectively developed in the fundamentally undemocratic, indeed authoritarian, structure of the current typical high school where many teachers, never mind pupils, feel that they have little real say in the running of the school.

For schools, it means there should be proper forums for discussion, consultation and decision-making involving pupils and Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that young people should be consulted on issues that affect them. However, the experience of school councils is not yet particularly hopeful (Davies, 2000; Lister et al. 2001; Cruddas, 2007; Kennedy, 2007; Lundy, 2007; Print, 2007).


The argument for education for citizenship and democracy is underpinned by a learning style that can be summarized as ‘active learning’. This is not something new. John Dewey argued some 90 years ago that ‘give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results’ (Dewey, 1915, p. 3). Similarly, in her study of Swedish 11 year olds, Aleerby (2003) found that the word ‘fun’ was used to describe positive experiences, although one cynical pupil summed up his experience as being ‘during the break we have fun’.

The issue of interdisciplinary learning has been a problem in secondary schools, which has led some schools to take pupils off timetable to develop rich tasks (Maitles, 2010). There is evidence of deeper learning through these kinds of experiences (Dewey, 1915; Hannam, 2001; Ritchie, 1999; Save the Children, 2000 and 2001; Burke and Grosvenor, 2003; MacBeath and Moos, 2004; Rudduck and Flutter, 2004; MacIntyre and Pedder, 2005; Maitles, 2005; Maitles and Gilchrist, 2006).

Even if this overstates the case, there are clearly some advantages to this approach. So, why is it not more widespread, indeed the norm? For the individual teacher, it takes courage, skill and confidence to develop active learning and genuine participation and we need to explore the whole area of both the initial training and continuing professional development of teachers. Further, there are the anxieties of parents, who tend to judge a school by its exam results solely and believe that a traditional rote learning, direct teaching strategy leads to ‘good’ exam outcomes. This is further exacerbated by politicians and inspectorates suggesting that active learning is chaotic and might not work. There is also a conditioned expectation by many pupils of being directed rather than becoming independent learners.

The ICCS/IEA study of some 62,000 teachers in 38 countries found that the highest percentages of teachers viewed “promoting knowledge of citizens’ rights and responsibilities” as the most important aim of education for citizenship was found in Bulgaria, Chile, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Paraguay, Poland, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, and Thailand. In contrast, in Cyprus, Finland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden, the highest percentages were found for ‘promoting students’ critical and independent thinking.’ The aim most frequently chosen by most teachers in Chinese Taipei and Colombia was ‘developing students’ skills and competencies in conflict resolution.’ Only minorities of teachers viewed ‘supporting the development of effective strategies for the fight against racism and xenophobia’ and ‘preparing students for future political participation’ as among the most important objectives of civic and citizenship education.


There are further issues as yet unresolved. Firstly, is the knowledge/skills/values base adequate? Indeed, should we be suggesting anything other than whole school initiatives? Secondly, there is the issue of curriculum overload. As initiatives are piled on schools, there is the possibility of areas like education for citizenship going onto the ‘back burner’. Thirdly, are teachers confident of dealing with controversial issues in the classroom?

The implementation and impact of education for citizenship initiatives depends on whether one sees the glass as half full or half empty. While there is excellent work going on to develop young people’s interest, knowledge, skills and dispositions in areas of citizenship and democracy; yet it is very limited, indeed rare, to find examples of genuine democracy based on children’s human rights. It is a matter of hearts and minds. No amount of hectoring and/or government instructions can counter this; as Bernard Crick, the person who has most lobbied for education for citizenship in schools, put it ‘teachers need to have a sense of mission…to grasp the fullness of its moral and social aims’ (Crick, 2000, p. 2).

There is much to be positive about. We need to do more research into the effectiveness of citizenship in the development of positive values. However, it is also clear that we have to keep some kind of realistic perspective on the influence of education for citizenship or any kind of other civic or political education. Education for citizenship throws up the central questions as to what sort of education we want. However, while there are clear benefits from education for citizenship programmes, we must be clear that no programme of education can guarantee democratic participation nor an acceptance of societal norms. Other factors, particularly socio-economic ones have a strong impact, particularly where it is perceived that governments have let down the aspirations of the population.  

Alerby, E. ‘”During the break we have fun”: a study concerning pupils’ experience of school’, Educational Research , vol. 45, no. 1 (2003), pp.17-28.

Benton, T., Cleaver, E., Featherstone, G., Kerr, D., Lopes, J. & Whitby, K. “Citizenship education longitudinal study (CELS): sixth annual report: young people’s civic participation in and beyond school: attitudes, intentions and influences”, Research Report DCSF-RR052 , (Nottingham, DCSF Publications, 2008).

Burke, C. and Grosvenor, I. The School I’d Like: Children And Young People’s Reflections on An Education For The 21st Century (London, Routledge-Falmer, 2003).

Crick, B. ‘A Subject At Last’, Tomorrow’s Citizen (summer 2000), p. 2.

Cruddas, L. ‘Engaged Voices-Dialogic Interaction And The Construction Of Shared Social Meanings’, Educational Action Research , vol.15, no.3 (2007), pp.479-488.

Davies, I., Ed. Teaching the Holocaust (London, Continuum, 2000).

Dewey, J. The school and society (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1915).

Hahn, C. Becoming Political (Albany, State University Of New York Press, 1998).

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Published in 2015 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

UNESCO has promoted global citizenship education since the launch of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) in 2012, which made fostering global citizenship one of its three education priorities.

This publication, titled Global Citizenship Education: Topics and learning objectives, is the first pedagogical guidance from UNESCO on global citizenship education. It is the result of an extensive research and consultation process with experts from different parts of the world. This guidance draws on the UNESCO publication Global Citizenship Education: Preparing learners for the challenges of the 21st century and the outcomes of three key UNESCO events on global citizenship education: the Technical Consultation on Global Citizenship Education (September 2013), as well as the First and Second UNESCO Fora on Global Citizenship Education, organized in December 2013 and January 2015 respectively. Before it was finalized, the guidance was field-tested by education stakeholders in selected countries in all regions to ensure its relevance in different geographical and socio-cultural contexts.

Following the foundational work of UNESCO to clarify the conceptual underpinnings of global citizenship education and provide policy and programmatic directions, this document has been developed in response to the needs of Member States for overall guidance on integrating global citizenship education in their education systems. It presents suggestions for translating global citizenship education concepts into practical and age-specific topics and learning objectives in a way that allows for adaptation to local contexts. It is intended as a resource for educators, curriculum developers, trainers as well as policy-makers, but it will also be useful for other education stakeholders working in non-formal and informal settings.

At a time when the international community is urged to define actions to promote peace, well-being, prosperity and sustainability, this new UNESCO document offers guidance to help Member States ensure that learners of all ages and backgrounds can develop into informed, critically literate, socially-connected, ethical and engaged global citizens.

Qian Tang, Ph. D. Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO

For further information please contact: [email protected] or visit: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/global-citizenship-education

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Towards a Common Framework for Global Citizenship Education: A Critical Review of UNESCO’s Conceptual Framework of Global Citizenship Education

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UNESCO’s Education 2030 Agenda called on a number of countries to integrate global citizenship education (GCE) into their national curriculum and deliver it in the classroom. UNESCO’s first guidance on the topic of global citizenship education is titled Global Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives . The term global citizenship was defined by UNESCO as “a sense of belonging to a global community and a common humanity, which emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependency and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global” (UNESCO 2015 ). This paper aims to provide a critical review of UNESCO’s conceptual framework of Global Citizenship Education and to situate into the broader academic discourse and practices of GCE. It starts with a critical review of the relevant literatures to explore the philosophical basis for GCE and its intellectual origins. Then it aims to clarify what that actually means as a feature of educational practice. It then critically assesses the conceptual framework UNESCO provides, especially its cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural dimensions.

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Sun, X. (2020). Towards a Common Framework for Global Citizenship Education: A Critical Review of UNESCO’s Conceptual Framework of Global Citizenship Education. In: Zhu, X., Li, J., Li, M., Liu, Q., Starkey, H. (eds) Education and Mobilities. Perspectives on Rethinking and Reforming Education. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-9031-9_15

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Citizenship Education (Definition and 11 Teaching Ideas)

Citizenship education is designed to teach children about citizenship as well as teaching them how to do citizenship.

Teaching about citizenship often involves teaching the fundamentals of democracy, while teaching  how to do  citizenship involves getting students to be democratic participants in the classroom.

Some examples of how to do citizenship education include:

  • Encouraging voices to be heard
  • Establishing formal avenues for representation
  • Teaching conflict management
  • Recognizing the legitimacy of elections you lose
  • Giving students democratic power

Below, I look over more of these examples as well as some background details into the fundamentals of what citizenship means.

1. How Should I Teach Citizenship to my Students?

Something to keep in mind when teaching citizenship is that we shouldn’t only teach about citizenship, but we should also teach children how to do citizenship.

In other words:

  • Teaching about citizenship: giving a definition of citizenship and looking at case studies in books, etc.
  • Teaching how to do citizenship: providing students with opportunities to speak up and make change in their communities.

Below I outline several strategies you can use to teach children to be active citizens. Some of these strategies teach about citizenship while others teach how to do citizenship.

2. Citizenship Education in your Classroom: 11 Teaching Ideas

  • Teach about how to have respectful relationships with one another and encourage students to practice respectful relationships;
  • Teach students how to manage conflict in ways that respect the individual liberties of others;
  • Teach about how to be respectful of the property of others;
  • Encourage students to sit on representative councils;
  • Collaboratively make school rules with students (without any prejudice or predetermination of what the rules will be);
  • Teach students the importance of following rules that have been democratically agreed upon;
  • Support students when they want to lawfully agitate for changes that will positively affect the lives of children;
  • Teach students to give back to their community by using fundraising drives, etc.;
  • Undertake projects that emphasize the importance of living in harmony with our environment. Use the principles of education for sustainable development (ESD) ;
  • Read books and critique the citizenship virtues of characters in the books;
  • Teach about the history of citizenship if your students are old enough!

citizenship education

3. What is Citizenship?

The concept of citizenship has been around for over 4000 years. There are four types of citizenship.

a) Aristotle’s Idea / Greek Citizenship

Aristotle thought of citizenship as a right for members of a society. He believed citizens should:

  • Have the right to participation in social affairs like government; and
  • Be free to pursue the good life.

Aristotle claimed that citizens should rule themselves democratically so that the ‘common good’ would be established within a society.

However, Aristotle excluded many groups in society – the old, the young and slaves – from his version of citizenship. He believed that young people were unable to make rational decisions so were therefore not allowed to be citizens.

So, as long as citizenship has been around, young people have been excluded from exercising its full benefits.

b) Enlightenment / Liberal-Democratic Citizenship

The Enlightenment in Scotland in the 17th Century and, later, 18th Century Europe and the United States, brought about a ‘liberal-democratic’ notion of citizenship.

For scholars of the Enlightenment, citizenship was characterised by:

  • Individual property ownership;
  • The right to self-governance; and
  • The right to the pursuit of one’s own self-interests.

So, you can see that this model of citizenship is a lot like Aristotle’s one.

However, these people of the enlightenment strongly believed that the government should be restricted in order that the individual citizen can be protected from tyranny of queens, kings and dictators.

You can probably see that the United States still holds firmly to this model of citizenship.

c) European Social Citizenship

Post-war Europe came up with its own model of citizenship.

Marshall (1950) identified three key pillars of post-war European citizenship:

  • Civic rights : The right to individual liberty and to own personal property
  • Political rights : The right to vote and stand for election.
  • Social rights : The right to healthcare and education.

You can see here that there are certain social rights that you might associate with Europe: healthcare and education.

Here’s a quick contrast between the liberal (US) model and the social (European) model:

  • Liberal Model: A focus on restricting the government from harming people. A strong emphasis on individual liberty.
  • Social Model: A focus on using the government to provide services to citizens. Citizens have collective responsibility to contribute to society in the form of taxes to ensure rights are maintained.

4. What is Childhood Citizenship?

Here are some ways our ideas of childhood citizenship have evolved over the years:

a) Citizens in the Making

For most of human history, children have been seen as ‘citizens in the making’ or ‘future citizens’. Even today, we don’t allow children to exercise the full rights of citizenship like buying land, voting or standing for elected office.

b) Protected Citizens

Childhood citizenship is a concept that has been around since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was agreed upon by most nations in 1989.

Since then, there has been an increasing push towards seeing children as citizens with their own unique rights.

c) Citizens with a Voice

The UNCRC also enshrined in international law the importance of providing children with a participatory voice.

Now, signatories to the UNCRC (which is most nations, except the United States), have an obligation to allow young people to speak up and participate in everyday affairs that affect them.

Even in the US hasn’t ratified the UNCRC, it is still widely accepted in US Education that children should have a say about what happens to them.

5. Core Principles of Children’s Citizenship

The core principles of a children’s citizenship approach include:

  • Children have the right to a participatory voice;
  • Children deserve unique protections;
  • As the future of the world, children’s opinions matter;
  • Children should be taught how to behave in an ethical manner to contribute positively to society.

Scholarly Sources

If you’re writing a report or essay on student or childhood citizenship, I encourage you to cite scholarly sources.

Related Post: How to find Scholarly Sources Online

Here are a range of scholarly sources I used when writing this piece:

  • Arthur, R. (2015). Recognising children’s citizenship in the youth justice system.  Journal of social welfare and family law ,  37 (1), 21-37.
  • Bacon, K., & Frankel, S. (2014). Rethinking Children’s Citizenship.  The International Journal of Children’s Rights ,  22 (1), 21-42.
  • Bath, C., & Karlsson, R. (2016). The ignored citizen: Young children’s subjectivities in Swedish and English early childhood education settings.  Childhood ,  23 (4), 554-565. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0907568216631025
  • Cohen, E. F. (2005). Neither seen nor heard: children’s citizenship in contemporary democracies.  Citizenship Studies ,  9 (2), 221-240. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/13621020500069687
  • Cordero Arce M (2015) Maturing Children’s Rights Theory: From Children, With Children, Of Children. International Journal of Children’s Rights 25 (1): 283–331.
  • Devine, D., & Cockburn, T. (2018). Theorizing children’s social citizenship: new welfare states and inter-generational justice.  Childhood ,  25 (2), 142-157. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0907568218759787
  • Faulks, K. (2000). Citizenship. London: Routledge.
  • Grindheim, L. T. (2017). Children as playing citizens.  European Early Childhood Education Research Journal ,  25 (4), 624-636. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2017.1331076
  • Hart, S. (2009). The ‘problem’ with youth: young people, citizenship and the community.  Citizenship studies ,  13 (6), 641-657.
  • Jans, M. (2004). Children as citizens: Towards a contemporary notion of child participation. Childhood, 11 (1), 27-44.
  • Larkins, C. (2014). Enacting children’s citizenship: Developing understandings of how children enact themselves as citizens through actions and acts of citizenship. Childhood, 21 (1), 7-21.
  • Lundy, L. (2007). ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  British educational research journal ,  33 (6), 927-942.
  • Marshall, T. H. (1950) Citizenship and Social Class London: Pluto Press.
  • Millei, Z., & Imre, R. (2009). The problems with using the concept of ‘citizenship’in early years policy.  Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood ,  10 (3), 280-290. Doi: https://doi.org/10.2304%2Fciec.2009.10.3.280
  • Raby, R. (2008). Frustrated, resigned, outspoken: Students’ engagement with school rules and some implications for participatory citizenship.  The International Journal of Children’s Rights ,  16 (1), 77-98.
  • Stasiulis, D. (2002). The active child citizen: Lessons from Canadian policy and the children’s movement.  Citizenship Studies ,  6 (4), 507-538.
  • United Nations General Assembly. (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, NY: United Nations. Available at: http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

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Rethinking the sacred truths of global citizenship education: A theoretical exploration

Miri yemini.

School of Education, Tel Aviv University, 69978 Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel

This article aims to unpack global citizenship education (GCE) as a concept, arguing that a certain moving forward is needed in the scholarship to allow true engagement of educators and thus students with the topic. It suggests that the contemporary research directions are entangled with strong trends of political correctness and a contrariness agenda, de facto nullifying school-based praxis. It also notes several assumptions in the GCE literature that may benefit from re-examination to critically engage with criticisms of GCE.

Global citizenship education (GCE) is a concept that has gained popularity in the past decade as it was incorporated into the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework and subsequently into state curricula in many countries (Ghosn-Chelala, 2020 ). GCE is also echoed by the “global competencies” chapter in OECD’s latest PISA release and resonates in the work of various non-governmental organisations (Goren, 2020 ). While widespread and generally accepted, GCE has been subject to severe criticism in academia and beyond, accused of being an empty signifier; a sign of Global North privilege and neo-colonialism; an inapplicable concept; decontextualised from the real-life teaching and learning opportunities; and, importantly, conceptualised differently at policy levels and in classroom realms. Global citizenship education aims to address values and knowledge that help learners to become informed and responsible citizens in the global world. Following Bosio and Torres’s ( 2019 , p. 747) call for GCE to be “based on values of mutuality and reciprocity”, in this essay I seek to explore and question some of the basic assumptions and unwritten rules guiding much of the writing on GCE from the past decade.

To follow this route, I begin by exposing my positionality as a scholar enjoying certain privilege (a high-rank, tenured position at a leading research university, whiteness, and access in general to a high-quality standard of living). I also note my marginalised position as a woman, a non-native speaker of English, a Jew, and, importantly, an Israeli citizen working in academia, where Israelis are often immediately accused and sometimes banned, unilaterally blamed for the atrocities of the Israeli–Arab conflict. My marginality is further apparent within the Israeli society as I am an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, a non-native speaker of Hebrew, and from a working-class background, brought up in a family lacking social, financial, and linguistic capital. That is to say, my understanding of GCE is deeply embedded in my own ambiguous positionality and in my capability to reflect on and engage with various theories and practices of GCE.

Following the call by critical scholars (Pashby et al., 2020 ) to inform our scholarship through critical awareness of our own positionalities on personal and societal levels, I hereby question three central arguments dominating the academic discourse on GCE and then suggest some ideas that might not only resonate with these popular arguments but also, importantly, provide a solid alternative approach for future research.

The essay proceeds as follows. First, I present the common problematisations of GCE as these are mirrored in the contemporary academic scholarship. Then I discuss the alternatives to the common discourses, with the aim of materialising GCE as a self-aware praxis.

Common reservations and critiques

The critical discourse surrounding education for global citizenship raises a number of reproaches concerning the moral grounding of the term and its applicability. Recently, studies criticised the growing use of the concept by national curricula (Yemini et al., 2018a , b ) and intergovernmental agencies (Auld & Morris, 2019 ; Engel et al., 2019 ).

First, the prevailing assumption is that GCE is a privileged endeavour, particularly relevant to those under advantaged conditions who are able to be mobile across national borders; therefore, introducing the subject into curricula would create a gap that would increase the existent, inherent inequality in the system since some schools may be more willing and able to incorporate these topics than others (Goren & Yemini, 2017 ; Howard et al., 2018 ; Torres & Bosio, 2020 ). This link between mobility—and access to mobility, which Kaufmann et al., ( 2018 ) conceptualised as “motility”—and is often studied as a potential factor that increases gaps between mobile and moored individuals and societies. Moreover, forced mobility (as in the case of refugees and asylum-seekers or low-skilled migrants) might also reinforce these gaps due to limited access to schooling or low-level schooling available for these populations.

Nevertheless, theoretically speaking, I question this assumed strong link between mobility and GCE, especially nowadays when most of the world’s schools moved to online or blended learning. At present, the most fundamental underlying notions of traditional schooling—including its timeline, age-based full-day activities, and other “educational truths”—are being reshaped by measures to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic. While obviously urgent problems of access to computers and stable internet connectivity remain, which will harm the most vulnerable populations, free mobility as such, even for middle- and upper-class students, is no longer obvious. Thus, potentially, schools will be able to deliver new forms of GCE detached from physical mobility, and motility might be redefined by access and skills in virtual worlds rather than in the real world, where some are more limited than others by citizenships and passports, regulations and restrictions (Harpaz, 2019 ).

A second argument against GCE is that this is a broad and multidimensional topic whose relevance is distinct and specific for different populations; therefore, the ability to quantify and measure its use, as is a common practice with new topics entering the curriculum, is limited (Auld & Morris, 2019 ). In other words, in order to be implemented in the curriculum, unification and universalisation of GCE programmes is required; yet such an act would undermine the fundamental understanding that education for global citizenship is inherently contextual and ever-changing. This criticism is part of a broader discourse propagated by leading comparative educators such as Bob Lingard (Baroutsis & Lingard, 2017 ; Lewis et al., 2016 ; Lingard & Lewis, 2017 ), Paul Morris, ( 2015 ), and many others against the OECD’s attempt to shape education policy in nation-states based on large-scale assessment and international comparisons. While, in general, many studies confirmed the limited reliability of these international standardised examinations and their biased conclusions (e.g., Feniger & Lefstein, 2014 ; Komatsu & Rappleye, 2017 ), not often are any alternatives offered in this type of scholarship or in general. Moreover, curricular integration of GCE does not necessarily mean that its curricular materials must be assessed and compared or that GCE must be delivered using universal curricula and therefore global assessment.

A third argument deals with the gap between the theory and writing of policy-makers regarding education for global citizenship, on one hand, and the practice of what is being done in the classroom, on the other—and the inability of teachers and students alike to reconcile these contradictions and subtleties (Sant et al., 2018 ). Of course, this argument is valid for almost every topic in social sciences and the humanities, from history to political education to the arts. Teachers’ agency is crucial when engagement with “difficult” issues is required in terms of dealing with controversies, questioning the existing hegemonies, and supporting student activism. Andreotti, ( 2016 , p. 105) warns us against developing “ethnocentric, paternalistic, ahistorical and depoliticised practices based on a single onto-epistemic grammar that naturalises modern institutions, cognitive frames, structures of being and economic models”. In that sense, however, GCE is no different from the broader discourses of civics, history, the arts, and literature. Therefore, the transformation of schooling that we aim for should be implemented for all topics, probably guided by bottom-up initiatives alongside agentic endeavours by educators, parents, students, and communities.

The fourth argument touches upon the foundations of GCE and argues that the concept is tainted with colonialism and the replication of power hierarchies between the Global North and the Global South. Therefore, the argument goes, the practice of GCE is corrupting and problematic, and requires re-engineering of existing power relations on the global stage (Pashby et al., 2020 ; Stein et al., 2019 ) to avoid reproduction of “material, discursive and political inequalities” (Andreotti, 2016 , p. 102). In addition, scholars have offered multiple, conflicting definitions of GCE, and ample reviews have covered its different typologies. A multitude of divisions and subdivisions of the various types of GCE and of the core concept of global citizenship itself have been published in recent years, in the contexts of both schools and higher education. These discourses over definitions and typologies are being criticised increasingly in the academia and beyond (Pashby et al., 2020 ).

Possible alternatives for GCE

After noting the major critiques raised against GCE implementation, I would like to move the discourse forward, suggesting possible alternatives to the conceptual understandings of GCE that may be impeding its practice. First, I argue against the sweeping abolition of conceptualisations and the tendency to question the legitimacy of writing that originates in the Global North. Reviews that call for more diverse voices in research and writing are of course just and legitimate, but in this area it sometimes seems that any knowledge produced in the West is immediately suspected of neocolonialism and the replication of hegemony. I claim that immediate refutation of any scholarship produced in the Global North is not helpful in the attempt to use GCE to fight structural and conceptual hegemonies. Broad generalisation of everything written by scholars and institutions in the North as racist and neocolonial is obviously biased and should be examined critically with the same scrutiny that is being applied in decolonising “Western knowledge”. Andreotti ( 2016 , p. 105) suggests that

[d]espite questions raised by critical scholars in the field, educational institutions across sectors, including supranational institutions like UNESCO, have adopted the rhetoric of GCE in ways that still reinforce ethnocentric, paternalistic, ahistorical and depoliticised practices based on a single onto-epistemic grammar that naturalises modern institutions, cognitive frames, structures of being and economic models. These practices tend to foreclose analyses of uneven power relations, the geopolitics and biopolitics of knowledge production and to conceal the complicity of modernity in the systemic reproduction of harm through historical and on-going forms of violence, exploitation, dispossession and destitution mobilised to protect specific interests.

Andreotti ( 2016 , p. 108) further proposes to examine GCE practices following the HEADS UP model:

  • Hegemony (justifying dominance and supporting domination);
  • Ethnocentrism (projecting the views of one group as universal);
  • Ahistoricism (forgetting historical legacies and complicities);
  • Depoliticization (disregarding power inequalities and ideological roots of analyses and proposals);
  • Self-congratulatory and self-serving attitude (oriented towards self-affirmation/CV building);
  • Uncomplicated solutions (ignoring the complexity of epistemological, ontological, and metaphysical dominance); and
  • Paternalism (seeking affirmation of superiority through the provision of help).

I add that we should take double caution when developing, evaluating, and implementing GCE: once in detecting and identifying biases within GCE stemming from the West/rest historical power relations and again when criticising conceptions of GCE that originated in the West so as not to throw out the baby with the bath water, metaphorically speaking.

Second, I challenge us to reimagine the relationship of the literature in the field with the concept of neoliberalism. The discourse on neoliberalism in and of education is complex; indeed, the term has been overused, and its overuse has been criticised (Rowe et al., 2019 ). However, there is a growing tendency for researchers to blame endogenous and exogenous privatisation processes on the commercialisation of education and on widening achievement gaps (Ball, 2009 ). Part of what leads to this tendency is the extensive involvement of external organisations (non-profit organisations, foundations, and commercial companies) in education processes (Yemini et al., 2018a , b ). As a relatively new concept in formal schooling that is heavily supported by intergovernmental organisations such as UNESCO and the OECD, GCE is not shielded from such criticism. While local NGOs and global intergovernmental organisations are involved in GCE in many countries, we should inquire into the specific relations formed in each case to understand whose agency is being expressed and who is excluded from the process. In certain cases, teachers, parents, and even students are the ones forming NGOs that enter schools to foster more fulfilling relationships within the local communities, through GCE (Torres, 2017 ). Moreover, the critique against assessment, especially by large international organisations and in particular the OECD, tends to recycle content and meanings. As such, this line of criticism holds back the development of new voices that would present other, non-Orthodox, streams of thought. Ultimately, schools are not exclusively oriented towards emphasising global competencies as per the OECD (Auld & Morris, 2019 ), as we showed regarding teachers of various sectors within Israeli society (Goren et al., 2019 ).

My third argument deals with the negation of the entrepreneurship and agency of those engaged in education through somewhat nostalgic accusations of neoliberalism in favour of what was in the “past”. When examined in depth, we often find education in the “past” to have been even more divisive than it is at present in terms of geography, gender, ethnicity, and other contexts (Estellés & Fischman, 2020 ; Francis et al., 2017 ). The perception of globalisation and hitherto privatisation as new modes of action that unquestionably disturb equal public schooling is not accurate historically; it is based on a past that never existed. Today more than ever, dedicated and agentic educators are willing to develop students’ skills and personalities. Moreover, the arguments against GCE based on a claim that global solidarity must reoccur are usually strongly grounded in what Beck ( 2007 ) called methodological nationalism.

Now that I have listed and questioned some of the most visible and unquestionable critiques of GCE, I suggest several new directions for thinking about GCE and, specifically, its implementation in classrooms. These days, we are witnessing enormous transformations by many national education systems worldwide. The mind frame of “from crisis to opportunity” adopted by some intergovernmental organisations and national governments leaves room for bottom-up initiatives and teacher-led changes to penetrate school systems that are otherwise extremely resistant to change. The need for global action in light of the Covid-19 pandemic provides us with a chance to re-examine GCE and its criticisms and to design specific local and global solutions through which educators and communities will be able to engage with this concept without fear of sacred truths and biased discourses.

As mentioned above, my thinking on GCE is closely linked to my own positionality as scholar, parent, and migrant. While conducting empirical research, interviewing teachers and students about their perceptions of GCE, I became acutely aware of the deep dissonance surrounding the academic writing on the topic. Critical evaluations of all existing projects, conceptualisations, typologies, and assessments made me rethink my own positioning in the field and encouraged me to turn my critical lens back towards the critical scholarship itself. I hope that this essay will provide a fertile ground for rethinking and developing GCE further, as the world seems to desperately need a fresh perspective.

is an Associate Professor of comparative education at Tel Aviv University, with interests in internationalisation of education in schools and higher education, global citizenship education, and education in conflict-ridden societies. She has also developed a strong research contribution around the involvement of external actors in schools. In addition, Prof. Yemini is an active member of CIES, CESE, and BAICE, and she is a President Elect for the Israeli Comparative Education Society. Prof. Yemini has published extensively, among others in Educational Administration Quarterly, Educational Management Administration & Leadership, Comparative Education Review, Teaching and Teachers Education, Compare, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Journal of Studies in International Education, Globalisation, Societies and Education, Urban Education , and Educational Review .

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Challenges of Teaching Citizenship Education Topics at Senior Secondary SchoolLevel in Botswana

Profile image of Reginald Oats

Citizenship Education is not a new phenomenon, in fact, it is an old concept. The concept dates back to the time before African Nations came in contact with European Nations. Hence in the African context, Citizenship Education did exist in pre-colonial African societies. In the case of Botswana, Matebele (2005) indicates that Botswana’s Social Studies curriculum for citizenship education has emerged because of the need for its citizen to take active part in the change and development which have been occurring since independence. The essence of CE therefore is to transform students into active participants in the affairs of their country.

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Follow our news, recent searches, are classrooms the right space to discuss controversial issues, advertisement.

This comes after the recent online uproar about what schools are teaching students about the Israel-Hamas conflict, as part of the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) syllabus.

Students having a lesson in a classroom in Singapore. (File photo: TODAY/Ernest Chua)

This audio is AI-generated.

topic in citizenship education

Calvin Yang

SINGAPORE: Schools can provide a “safe space” for students to share their views , but parents also need to be part of the conversation, said experts.

This comes after the recent online uproar about what schools are teaching students about the Israel-Hamas conflict, as part of the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) syllabus. 

Some people were concerned that the narrative presented to the students was not neutral or objective, and lacked historical context of the wider conflict in the region. 

Others claimed that teachers were not allowed to give further input in the lessons beyond what was prescribed to them.


Dr Thavamalar Kanagaratnam, master specialist at the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) CCE branch, said CCE discussions look at issues that are relevant and meaningful to students, some of which they are already talking about.    “So then it becomes an opportunity within the classroom, to use that as a platform for them to learn how to talk to each other in ways that are respectful, where they get to express different points of view, and then learn how to maybe even agree to disagree,” she told CNA's Heart of the Matter podcast. 

“So that's really the point of these types of conversations. It's not so much about understanding the issue itself, although that's an important part of it.

"But really, more importantly, it's the kind of skills you want them to learn, the kind of values you want them to demonstrate.”

Dr Thavamalar said building empathy, for instance, involves hearing the experiences and feelings of others. 

“When you hear the perspective of another, you're not just listening with your head, but you're also listening with your heart,” she added. 

“So that's what we are trying to work towards, that sort of mindset in our students and teachers.”

topic in citizenship education

On the lessons that touch on the Israel-Hamas conflict, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing said on Feb 25 that they are designed to help students understand their own emotions, empathise with others, as well as reflect on how to safeguard cohesion and harmony in a multiracial society.

They are not intended to be history lessons nor are they meant to ascribe who is right or wrong, he said. 

On Mar 4, Mr Chan said in parliament that lessons on the Israel-Hamas conflict that are taught during CCE classes will be further customised for different age groups of students. 

Dr Thavamalar said teachers often share during workshops how difficult it can be to facilitate controversial discussions. 

“Especially when they have very strong views about it, it may not be so advisable for them to share their personal views. Because they do have an influence over the kids, especially if the kids respect them a lot,” she added. 

“So we do tell them that you have a responsibility to remember your role as an educator, as a teacher, and you need to also remember that the kids come from very different backgrounds. You have to think about the families that the kids are coming from if you're going to share your personal views.”   Dr Thavamalar said teachers undergo professional development opportunities, “where we try to help them think about the questions that (they) ask rather than the answers”.    She added: “We often tell our teachers it's okay if mistakes happen. Actually we learn from things that don't go well as well. We can't expect people to be experts overnight.”


Jurongville Secondary School principal Philibert Leow, another guest on the podcast, said teachers have to facilitate a “safe environment” for students to speak their mind. 

“We remind the teachers what is the core (and) what is the main intent of the CCE lesson,” he said. 

“We talk about respect, we talk about empathy, and we talk about holding that safe space for everyone to just express their views. So once that class norm has been set, I think students feel safe.”

Clinical psychologist Annabelle Chow, who was also on the podcast, said: “Everybody comes from different backgrounds, (with) different experiences. You're going to have different subjective experiences and perspectives about it.”

She added that when having discussions with the young, being age appropriate is important. 

“So you think about the younger students, you want to make sure that the content is delivered in the most simplified way,” she said.

topic in citizenship education


Dr Thavamalar said students also observe not just what happens within the classroom, but beyond it too.

“One thing is for everyone, especially the adults in the school, to see themselves as being role models for students,” she added. 

“Even among the staff, for teachers, the way they communicate with each other as well, this would be an example for the students.”

Mr Leow said the recent public scrutiny is a good time for parents to appreciate the work that has been done in school, and have regular communication with their children’s teachers. 

topic in citizenship education

Lessons on Israel-Hamas conflict will be further customised for different age groups, teachers to get more support: Chan Chun Sing

topic in citizenship education

Commentary: Singapore students should be taught world affairs to avoid binary thinking

“Whether or not they like it or not, their children are being exposed to views online, their children are struggling with some of these views online, and some of them are looking for space to talk about these views,” he said. 

Dr Chow stressed that it is a shared responsibility, and parents have a part to play. 

“There's a lot of pressure on teachers to be the ones who handle these conversations, and to manage the students' perspective or to offer them direction,” she added. 

“Teachers now have a lot of pressure to be able to pick up mental health conditions, basic counselling ... But if we can start to educate parents during orientation and even ongoing conversations that it's actually shared responsibility, that could actually help.”

topic in citizenship education

Teachers don't impose personal views, advocate for any party in school lessons about Israel-Hamas war: MOE

topic in citizenship education

Online misrepresentation of MOE lessons on Israel-Hamas war led to abuse towards teachers, potential 'external interference' involved: Chan Chun Sing

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A revolutionary, bold educational endeavor for Belize

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When 14-year-old Jahzhia Moralez played a vocabulary game that involved jumping onto her friend like a backpack, she knew Itz'at STEAM Academy wasn’t like other schools in Belize. Transferring from a school that assigned nearly four hours of homework every night, Moralez found it strange that her first week at Itz'at was focused on having fun. 

“I was very excited,” Moralez says. “I want to be an architect or a vet, and this school has the curriculum for that and other technology-based stuff.”

The name “Itz’at” translates to “wise one” in Maya, honoring the local culture that studied mathematics and astronomy for over a thousand years. Launched in September 2023, Itz’at STEAM Academy is a secondary school that prepares students between the ages of 13 and 16 to build sustainable futures for themselves and their communities, using science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). The school’s mission is to create a diverse and inclusive community for all, especially girls, students with special educational needs, and learners from marginalized social, economic, and cultural groups.

The school’s launch is the culmination of a three-year project between MIT and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology of Belize. “The Itz’at STEAM Academy represents a revolutionary and bold educational endeavor for us in Belize,” a ministry representative says. “Serving as an institution championing the pedagogy of STEAM through inventive and imaginative methodologies, its primary aim is to push the boundaries of educational norms within our nation.”

Itz’at is one of the first Belizean schools to use competency-based programs and individualized, authentic learning experiences. The Itz’at pedagogical framework was co-created by MIT pK-12 — part of MIT Open Learning — with members of the ministry and the school. The framework’s foundation has three core pillars: social-emotional and cultural learning, transdisciplinary academics, and community engagement.

“The school's core pillars inform the students' growth and development by fostering empathy, cultural awareness, strong interpersonal skills, holistic thinking, and a sense of responsibility and civic-mindedness,” says Vice Principal Christine Coc.

Building student confidence and connecting with community

The teaching and learning framework developed for Itz’at is rooted in proven learning science research. A student-centered, hands-on learning approach helps students develop critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. 

“The curriculum places emphasis on fostering student competence and cultivating a culture where it's acceptable not to have all the answers,” says teacher Lionel Palacio.

Instead of measuring students’ understanding through tests and quizzes, which focus on memorization of content, teachers assess each stage of students’ project-based work. Teachers are reporting increased student engagement and deeper understanding of concepts.

“It’s like night and day,” says Moralez’s father, Alejandro. “I enjoy seeing her happy while working on a project. She’s not too stressed.”

The transdisciplinary approach encourages students to think beyond the boundaries of traditional school subjects. This holistic educational experience reinforces students’ understanding. For example, Moralez first learned about conversions in her Quantitative Reasoning course, and later applied that knowledge to convert centimeters to kilometers for a Belizean Studies project.

Students are also encouraged to consider their roles in and outside of school through community engagement initiatives. Connections with outside organizations like the Belize Zoo and the Belize Institute of Archaeology open avenues for collaboration and mutual growth.

“We have seen a positive impact on students’ confidence and self-esteem as they take on challenges and see the real-world relevance of their learning,” says Coc. 

Assignments that engage in real-world problem-solving are practical, offering students insight into future careers. The school aims to create career pathways to strengthen Belize’s existing industries, such as agriculture and food systems, while also supporting the development of new ones, such as cybersecurity.

Students’ sense of belonging is readily apparent to teachers, which positively correlates with their learning. “There's a noticeable companionship among students, with a willingness to assist one another and an openness to the novel learning approach,” says Palacio.

Parents see the impact of the safe learning environment that Itz’at creates for their children. Izaya Lovell, for example, gets to embrace his whole self. “I get to speak my mother tongue, Kriol,” he says. “I can be like my dad — get dreads and grow out my hair. I can play sports and be physical.”

Izaya’s mother, Odessa Lovell, says her son was a completely different person after one month of studying at Itz’at. “He’s so independent, he’s saving money, and he’s doing things on his own,” she says.

A vision for Belize

The development of Itz’at emerged from a 2019 agreement between MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) and the ministry for the implementation of a STEAM laboratory school in Belize, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank. MIT had a proven track record of projects and partnerships that transformed education globally. For example, MIT collaborated with administrators in India, which trained 3,300 teachers to launch a large-scale education system focusing on hands-on learning and competencies in values, citizenship, and professional skills that would prepare Indian students for further academic studies or the workforce. The Belize program is the first time that groups across the Institute have come together to develop a school from the ground up, and MIT pK-12 led the charge.

“One of the key aspects of the project has been the approach to co-design and co-creation of the school,” says Claudia Urrea, principal investigator for the Itz’at project at MIT and senior associate director of MIT pK-12. “This approach has not only allowed us to create a relevant school for the country, but to build the local capacity for innovation to sustain beyond the time of the project.”

Working with an extended team at MIT and stakeholders from the ministry, the school, parents, the community, and businesses, Urrea oversaw the development of the school’s mission, vision, values, governance structure, and internship program. The MIT pK-12 team — Urrea; Emily Glass, senior learning innovation designer; and Joe Diaz, program coordinator — led a collaborative effort on the school’s pedagogical framework and curriculum. Other core MIT team members include Brandon Muramatsu, associate director of special projects at Open Learning, and Judy Perry, director of the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program, who created operational guidance for finances, policies, and teacher professional development. By sharing insights with J-WEL, the MIT pK-12 team is fueling shared thinking and innovations that improve students’ learning and pathways from early to higher education to the workforce. 

Like the students, this is the Belizean teachers’ first experience with project-based learning. The MIT team shared the skills, mindsets, and practical training needed to achieve the school’s core values. The professional development training was designed to build their capacity, so they feel confident teaching this model to students and future educators. 

Itz’at currently has 64 students, with plans to reach full capacity of 300 students by 2026. The goal is to continue to build capacity toward STEAM education in the country, expand the possibilities available to students after graduation, and foster a robust school-to-career pipeline. 

“The opening of this school marks a pioneering milestone not just within Belize but also across the broader Central American and Caribbean regions,” a ministry spokesperson says. “We are excited about the future of Itz’at STEAM Academy and the success of its students.”

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Citizenship Law That Excludes Muslims Takes Effect, India Says

The law sparked lethal riots when it was passed. Now, after a four-year delay, it has come into force on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election campaign.

Men in uniform block a group of men holding a banner in a crowded street.

By Alex Travelli and Sameer Yasir

Reporting from New Delhi

Weeks before a national election, the Indian government has abruptly announced that it will begin enforcing a citizenship law that had remained dormant since late 2019 after inciting deadly riots by opponents who called it anti-Muslim.

The incendiary law grants Indian citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees and Christians from a few nearby countries. Muslims are pointedly excluded.

With a characteristic thunderclap, the government of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, made a short declaration on Monday night that it had finalized the details that would bring the law, known as the Citizenship Amendment Act, into force.

The government’s action, coming just before India announces the dates for an election expected in April and May, shows Mr. Modi delivering on a promise, and could change the electoral math in districts with Hindu refugees who stand to benefit from the law.

Politics aside, the law is not expected to significantly change the demography of India’s diverse population of 1.4 billion, at least not on its own. But it makes plain the power that Mr. Modi wields to redefine the Indian republic, steamrolling any resistance to his vision of a Hindu-first state.

The law spent more than four years in hibernation after protests by hundreds of thousands of Muslims and other Indians who were outraged by the idea that citizenship would be defined with reference to religious identity.

In February 2020, while President Donald J. Trump was on a state visit, riots broke out in the capital, New Delhi. Whole neighborhoods were devastated in the northeastern part of the city, where gas cylinders were turned into makeshift bombs and tossed into mosques. At least 50 people were killed, most of them Muslims.

A high-profile protest camp at a place called Shaheen Bagh, operated mainly by female protesters from different religious groups, carried on until late March before being dispersed. And then Covid-19 intervened, helping to suppress further protest.

The government justified the new rules as a humanitarian response to the plight of minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, India’s three big Muslim-majority neighbors. Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk turned political ally of Mr. Modi, wrote on social media that rescuing communities “who are suffering from religious brutality” would bring “joy to humanity.”

It is hard for many to take this explanation at face value. For one thing, the inclusion of some countries and exclusion of others looks arbitrary. For another, Muslims persecuted because of their faith, for instance the Ahmadiyya and Shiites of Pakistan, do not make the cut for Indian citizenship. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called the law “fundamentally discriminatory.”

To critics, the Citizenship Amendment Act looks like one part of a pincer movement against Muslims. It was brought to life at the same time as a national citizenship registry that would allow the government to expel undocumented residents, even if their families had lived in India for generations.

As Mr. Modi’s right-hand man, Amit Shah, said at the time, “Please understand the ‘chronology’: first the C.A.A.,” and then the registry. In other words, first non-Muslim refugees would be allowed citizenship. Then the refugees who remained would be expelled. More than 1,000 “declared foreigners” have been detained in the northeastern state of Assam.

On Monday, protests erupted there and in several other states after the government announced enforcement of the citizenship law. Shaheen Ahmed, a doctoral student in Kerala, said that he and other students came out to protest across his state.

“We were demanding the rollback of the law when police came and started beating us,” Mr. Ahmed said.

One group that rejoiced at the news is a large community of lower-caste Hindus in West Bengal, whose ancestors came to India from Bangladesh. Their support for Mr. Modi in the upcoming election could tip several parliamentary seats into the majority that he is expected to achieve anyway.

Other Hindu refugees, from Pakistan, had already been acquiring citizenship. More than 1,100 have been granted that status in Mr. Modi’s home state, Gujarat, since 2016. The point of the Citizenship Amendment Act will be to make these naturalizations possible on a national level, and more visible.

Alex Travelli is a correspondent for The Times based in New Delhi, covering business and economic matters in India and the rest of South Asia. He previously worked as an editor and correspondent for The Economist. More about Alex Travelli

Sameer Yasir covers news from India and other countries in the region. He is based in New Delhi. More about Sameer Yasir

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USCIS Revises Policy Manual to Align with New Fee Rule

We are  revising our guidance (PDF, 364.37 KB) in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the  Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31, 2024, and effective on April 1, 2024.

Revisions to the policy manual apply to all applications and petitions postmarked on or after April 1.

We will use the postmark date of a filing to determine which form version and fees are correct, but we will use the receipt date for purposes of any regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.

The revised guidance covers new form fees, fee waivers and fee exemptions, limits on the number of beneficiaries for certain employment-based forms, and a new form supplement for orphan intercountry adoption cases.

Please visit the  Frequently Asked Questions page, which we recently updated, for more details about the fee rule and fee schedule.

More Information

For more information about USCIS, please visit  uscis.gov  or follow us on  Twitter ,  Instagram ,  YouTube ,  Facebook , and  LinkedIn .

  • UPDATE: Germany’s Dual Citizenship Law Goes Into Effect at End of June 2024

The Act on the Modernization of Citizenship Law (StARModG) passed by the German Bundestag was published in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt) on March 26, 2024. The main parts of the law will go into effect on June 26, 2024, three months after the promulgation.

One of the significant changes concerns the elimination of restrictions on dual citizenship. With the annulment of Section 25 StAG (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz), the automatic loss of German citizenship upon acceptance of a foreign citizenship no longer applies. Additionally, the requirement for a prior retention permit (Beibehaltungsgenehmiging) and the associated lengthy procedure for retaining German citizenship will become obsolete.

Please note that this new law, including the simplifications on dual citizenship, will go into effect on June 26, 2024.

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  22. "How Do I" Guides for Nonimmigrants

    The items below explain how nonimmigrants can accomplish specific tasks through USCIS. How Do I Extend My Nonimmigrant Stay in the United States? (PDF, 121.18 KB) How Do I Change to Another Nonimmigrant Status? (PDF, 482.69 KB) How Do I Replace a Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record? (PDF, 584.42 KB) Was this page helpful? The items below ...

  23. USCIS Provides Third Gender Option on Form N-400

    We have revised Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to provide a third gender option, "X," defined as "Another Gender Identity." We are also updating guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual accordingly to account for this form revision and other forthcoming form revisions that will add a third gender option; see the Policy Alert (PDF, 344.77 KB).

  24. Background Checks

    Child abuse registries must be checked in any state or foreign country that you, your spouse and any adult member of your household has resided in since that individual's 18th birthday. We may also conduct our own check of any child abuse registries. The home study preparer must take one of the following courses of action:

  25. USCIS Revises Policy Manual to Align with New Fee Rule

    We are revising our guidance (PDF, 364.37 KB) in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31, 2024, and effective on April 1, 2024. Revisions to the policy manual apply to all applications and petitions postmarked on or after April 1.

  26. UPDATE: Germany's Dual Citizenship Law Goes Into Effect at End of June

    The Act on the Modernization of Citizenship Law (StARModG) passed by the German Bundestag was published in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt) on March 26, 2024. The main parts of the law ...