Which political parties do not want children to learn about democracy and human rights in school?
Students must not be deprived of learning about active participation in a democratic society. Therefore, education must be one of the most important areas in the programs of political parties and on the agendas of those in power. This is the conclusion of today's Gong conference Civic Education: between institutions, political (non)will and civic literacy, where the analyzes "Institutionalization of Civic Education in Croatia, Austria, France and Germany" and "How do political parties view civic education in their election documents?" were presented.
"If we want to truly democratize decision-making in Croatia at all levels, we need to work seriously on the development of a democratic political culture, and the way to achieve this is through Civic Education in schools. By systematically implementing Civic Education, young people will leave school as more active and responsible citizens," said Dražen Hoffmann, head of Gong's educational activities.
Eli Pijaca Plavšić from the Forum for Freedom in Education, one of the authors of the analysis "How do political parties view Civic Education in their electoral documents?", explained the analyzed electoral programs of political parties, independent lists and coalitions that participated in the elections for members of the Croatian Parliament in 2015, 2016 and 2020.
"The analysis has shown that most election programs do not mention Civic Education or mention it only indirectly - in connection with the design of the education system, which is supposed to develop modern competencies in children and young people, which can certainly include education in democracy and human rights. Three political parties from the sample do not mention Civic Education in any way, namely MOST, Homeland Movement i Živi zid. The 2015 election program of the Patriotic Coalition (HDZ) also did not mention Civic Education or the development of modern skills for functional literacy among children and youth. Indirect mention was found in five cases, namely in the election programs of HDZ 2016 and 2020, the coalition "Croatia is growing" (SDP) 2015 and the People's Coalition (SDP) 2016, and the Coalition for the Prime Minister (BM365) 2016. Direct mention of Civic Education was found in three cases, namely in the election programs of the Restart Coalition (SDP), the Green-Left Coalition, and the Croatian People's Party. All three programs were prepared for the 2020 elections," explained Pijaca Plavšić.
"When it comes to discussing the institutionalization of Civic Education in Croatia, the problems and challenges mentioned by the main actors are similar to those faced by Germany, Austria and France on their way to institutionalization. However, in these countries, solutions were sought because the content of human rights and democracy was too important to be left out," explained Monika Pažur, author of the Gong analysis "Institutionalization of Civic Education in Croatia, Austria, France and Germany."
Pažur added that the development of civic competence is the basis for the development of democratic societies, where individuals actively and responsibly participate in the development of the culture of human rights. This is not possible without the introduction of content related to human rights and democratic citizenship in the education system.
The goal of the analysis of the Forum for Freedom in Education and the Faculty of Law in Rijeka "Law in Everyday Life" is to create a competence framework of legal knowledge for students in the final grades of primary and secondary schools, to create materials for teaching legal literacy.
"From the analysis, it appears that teaching basic legal skills to 14-year-olds should focus on the topics of privacy and entertainment, virtual reality, and family relationships. Teaching basic legal skills to 18-year-olds should focus on the basics of civil law, the basics of the legal system and state organization, and entrepreneurship and work, rather than on topics related to private life and entertainment and virtual reality. After all, learning law is just that - a law that the state must teach children and young people," explained constitutional lawyer Sanja Barić, Professor of Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law in Rijeka.
Hoffmann concluded that there is no alternative to political education if Croatia wants to improve the lives of citizens who will actively work to build democracy and strengthen democratic behavior.
"We are aware that these developments will not happen without a clear political will. That is why we are looking at the treatment of Civic Education in the pre-election programs of the parliamentary parties in Croatia and looking for the basis for a minimum consensus in these programs, in the hope that in the future Civic Education will also be supported by the central level of government," Hoffmann pointed out.