The position of the Association of Life-Long Learning and Enlightment on civic education in the Republic of Belarus

The position of the Association of Life-Long Learning and Enlightment
on civic education in the Republic of Belarus 

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Preamble

–  Affirming  our  devotion  to  the  values  stated  in  fundamental human rights charters;

–  Taking on  the  task of  integrating civic education  in the activities of  every  organization of the  Association of Life-Long Learning and Enlightment;

–  Sharing  the  positions  and  realizing  the  challenges  set out the Manifesto of the European Association for the Education of Adults1;

–  Considering  the  provisions of the  Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education2, as well as European Charter of Active Citizenship3;

–  Continuing work  on  issues  included  in  the  Final  declaration  of workshop-conference  ‘Belarusian civic  education and  current civic competences’

we,  the  representatives  of  the  member  organizations  of  the  Association  of Life-Long Learning and Enlightment do hereby establish this document that reflects the principles and priorities of our joint work in the sphere of civic education.

Context

By civic education in this document we mean education, training, enlightment, information, practice and activities aimed through sharing knowledge, skills and understanding with learners as well as developing their positions and behaviors at enhancing their opportunities to exercise and protect their democratic rights and take civil responsibility, appreciate diversity and play an active role in democratic life in order to promote and protect democracy and the rule of law.4

However,  there  is a diversity of approaches towards understanding  of the content  of  civic  education  in Belarus.  On  the  one  hand,  civic  education  in  state educational institutions is oriented at nurturing patriotism, is based at the concept of contemporary state ideology and is in fact a part of formal education.

On  the  other  hand,  following  a  growing  public  demand  the sphere of non-formal education sees more and more programs aimed at actualization of national identity,  more widespread use of the Belarusian language,  deeper study of the history of Belarus. Moreover, there is a common approach in non-formal education to prioritize the formation of such European values as tolerance, democracy, multiculturalism, human rights.

It should be emphasized  that  there exist approaches towards understanding civic education based on for instance totalitarian or imperial ideologies.

The above mentioned approaches are rare to meet in  their pure form and are symptoms of heterogeneity of the contents of Belarusian civic education.

In practice the contents of programs offered by non-formal education providers does not always correlate either with each other  or with  the contents of state programs which contributes to ideological separation of society.

The situation with contradictory programs provokes a conflict within Belarusian society which stresses the importance of  activities aimed at harmonization of positions of civic education providers.

The principles of civic education

  1. Civic  education  is  to  be  envisaged  as  an  inalienable  part  of  lifelong education of any type for any target group. Its components should become common, cross-cutting  issues  for non-formal education programs  offered  by  member organizations of Association of Life-Long Learning and Enlightment.
  2. The  principle  “You  teach who  you  are”  should  be  fundamental  for educational programs and training in citizenship. Civic educator should implement the competencies he is striving to teach in his everyday life.
  3. Take  the  HR based approach.  Human rights  in the field of civic education are the basis for nurturing democratic citizenship.
  4. Implement the principle of educational inclusiveness for all groups of population as a prerequisite for promoting democracy and respectful behaviors in the society and breaking down barriers and stereotypes.
  5. The process of civic education should be accompanied by thoughtful attitude towards nature: event organizers and participants should consider possible environmental effect and adhere to the principles of sustainable development.
  6. Members  of  the Association of Life-Long Learning and Enlightment hold educational events with the aim of promoting national Belarusian values and enhancing the use of the Belarusian language.

Civic competencies (an open list)

By  civic  competences  in  this  document  we  mean  the ability to use the knowledge and skills acquired in the course of educational program in a wider field of public and private activities and self-organization.

The below  listed competences are deemed necessary to develop citizenship in the Republic of Belarus and constitute a competence base for any  civic educator.

Knowledge:

  1. Understanding  of  the  political  system  (government  bodies  and institutes, political parties,  nonprofit organizations,  independent  institutions,  interest groups, think tanks etc.) on local, national and international level;
  2. Knowledge of  local history  in the context of the history of Belarus and the European continent;
  3. Knowledge of human rights and methods of their protection, of gender theory, tolerance, inclusion, non-discrimination;
  4. The command of the Belarussian language,  a good knowledge of national traditions and cultural heritage;
  5. Awareness of the major challenges and risks attributed to overexploitation of natural resources;
  6. Awareness of the notions of democracy, justice, equality, rule of law;
  7. Understanding of objectives, values and policies of social and political movements.

Skills:

  1. Ability to arrange and participate in a public discussion;
  2. Ability to mobilize people to solve social issues;
  3. Ability to show solidarity and interest in issues concerning violation of human rights and freedoms;
  4. Ability to find, analyze and correctly disseminate information;
  5. Ability to engage in intercultural communication, to combat xenophobia, racism, neo-fascism, homophobia and  resist the calls and actions kindling national discord;
  6. Ability to minimize the negative impact on the environment;
  7. Critical thinking;

Values:

  1. Humanism;
  2. Respect for human rights and freedoms;
  3. Non-violent approach to conflict resolution;
  4. Maintenance of public security;
  5. Ethnic  and religious tolerance,  sense of curiosity and acceptance of otherness of nations and cultures, tolerance;
  6. Sense of belonging  to particular place, country, respect for the Belarusian language;
  7. Engagement in social processes, proactivity, social responsibility.

______________________

1 Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st century: http://www.eaea.org/media/policy-advocacy/manifesto/manifesto_by.pdf
2 Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)7, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education.
3 European Charter of Active Citizenship.
4 The definition developed  on  the  basis  of  the  above  mentioned  Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)7, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

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