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Measuring Youth Civic Competence across Europe in 1999 & 2009

Civic competence is seen not only as a tool for empowering the individual to control their own lives beyond the existing social circumstances but can also help to create social capital and thereafter to underpin democracy and social and economic development. The European Commission has listed civic competence as one of the key competences to be developed under the EU Lifelong Learning strategy. This report describes the development of a measurement model along four dimensions of civic competence using the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) to monitor the levels of youth citizenship (young people aged about 14) across Europe. The model combines the traditions in Europe of liberal, civic republican and critical/cosmopolitan concepts of citizenship. Results suggest that Social justice values and Citizenship knowledge and skills of students are facilitated within the Nordic system that combines a stable democracy and economic prosperity with democratically-based education systems in which teachers prioritise the promotion of autonomous critical thinking in citizenship education. In contrast, medium term democracies with civic republican tradition, such as Italy and Greece gain more positive results on Citizenship Values and Participatory attitudes. This is also the case for some recent former communist countries that retain ethnic notions of citizenship. Yet, what emerges from this study is that the Nordic teachers’ priority on developing critical and autonomous citizens may not be sufficient to enhance participatory attitudes or concepts of a good citizen, which may be better supported by the Italian teachers’ priority on civic responsibility.