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Introducing the New Civic Education Models Report

This is a guest post by Kayahan Cantekin, a foreign law specialist in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

In many countries around the world, discussions on whether and how to reopen schools continue to preoccupy people, especially in light of the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the United States, these discussions take place against a backdrop of long-continuing efforts to advance civics education reform.

In the meantime, the Law Library’s foreign law specialists and analysts have been doing extensive research on the models of civic education that are employed in national and subnational curricula around the world. The resulting Civic Education Models report is now available on law.gov. The report includes surveys of 22 jurisdictions detailing the format and content of civic education courses or course topics that are offered in national or regional curricula. The jurisdictions surveyed are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, England, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. The report includes jurisdictions with widely varying approaches to civic education, thus offering interesting possibilities for comparative research.

Map shows the school grades in which civic education components in primary and secondary education curricula is concentrated. Primary (Grades 1-8); Lower primary (Grades 1-4); Upper primary (Grades 5-8); Secondary (Grades 9-12); Lower secondary (Grades 9-10); Upper secondary (Grades 11-12). Jurisdictions’ own classifications are used if reported in individual survey.

This map shows the school grades in which civic education components in primary and secondary education curricula are concentrated. Primary (Grades 1-8); Lower primary (Grades 1-4); Upper primary (Grades 5-8); Secondary (Grades 9-12); Lower secondary (Grades 9-10); Upper secondary (Grades 11-12). Jurisdictions’ own classifications are used if reported in individual surveys. This map was created by Susan Taylor-Pikulsky.

The report found that a majority of the jurisdictions surveyed have included in their curricula for grades 1 through 12 at least one course that features civic education components. In some jurisdictions, civic education is offered in a stand-alone civics or citizenship course. In others, civic education content is included in a variety of different courses such as social studies, life skills, history, or geography. Jurisdictions that have stand-alone civics courses have mostly placed them in lower and/or upper secondary education.

The report also shows the variety found among jurisdictions with regards to the content of civic education components. In most countries, civics basics such as the governmental system, the organization of the state, political rights, and active citizenship are included in civic education components. These are complemented in some countries with a focus on themes such as peaceful coexistence and democratic tolerance, or national allegiance and integration – variations that might be reflective of differences among countries’ preferred social policies in the governance of pluralism, immigration, minorities, or indigenous peoples. In some jurisdictions, civics components also include topics related to moral education and traditional values. Most jurisdictions have included some topics related to digital literacy in civic education modules.

We invite you to review the information provided in our report. You can also browse the Current Legal Topics or Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports pages for additional reports from the Law Library. To receive alerts when new reports are published, you can subscribe to email updates and the RSS feed for Law Library Reports (click the “subscribe” button on the Law Library’s website).

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