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Citizenship projects to improve pupils' social and civic skills



With the Paris Declaration of 17 March 2015 and the publication of the 2015 Joint European Report on the implementation of the "Strategic Framework for Cooperation in Education and Training 2020", the European Union reaffirmed the importance it attaches to citizenship education. The European Commission and the Member States recognised that they have "a particular responsibility to pass on humanist and civic values to future generations" and committed themselves "to redouble their efforts to strengthen the teaching and appropriation of these fundamental values from the earliest age, and to work towards building more inclusive societies through education". These concerns are in line with those of the Council of Europe, which promotes education for democratic citizenship and human rights education in its member countries.

However, research in Europe points out that citizenship education is too often reduced to theoretical learning, whereas the transmission of democratic values and the development of civic competences are based as much on the acquisition of skills and abilities as on knowledge. Moreover, the multiple dimensions of citizenship education make it difficult for teachers to assess students' achievements.


The ACT project aimed to improve citizenship education in secondary schools in Europe, by experimenting with the implementation of innovative educational methods and assessment mechanisms based on the active involvement of students in concrete "citizenship projects".

Activities and expected results

These citizen projects were carried out by pupils aged 13 to 15 on the themes of social inclusion, anti-discrimination and cultural diversity. As well as the themes chosen, the active participation (co-construction) of the pupils themselves in defining and running the projects developed their critical thinking and sense of commitment. These projects were centred on the implementation of concrete civic actions, linked to the pupils' social environment and allowing the reinvestment of knowledge and collective reflection. They also gave rise to the organisation of various activities such as debates, media education, meetings with school partners (media, residents' associations, parents' associations, cultural associations, public authorities, etc.) acting at local level or exchanges with other classes in France or in Europe.

These "citizens' projects" also led to experimentation with methods of evaluating pupils that also relied on their active participation, such as self-evaluation, peer evaluation or the use of portfolio-type tools.

This phase of implementing citizens' projects in schools will be preceded by a training phase for the teachers concerned, which included both training in conducting a citizens' project with pupils and the development of documents, resources and tools useful for setting up such a project.

The citizens' projects were implemented according to an identical protocol in 100 schools in each of the four participating countries. In total, almost 10,000 pupils and 400 teachers took part in the experiment.

In each country, teams of independent researchers carried out a quantitative and qualitative evaluation in order to measure, in particular, the impact of the actions implemented on the civic skills, attitudes and knowledge of the young people involved in the experiment, compared to those who were not, the perceptions and feelings of the pupils and staff involved, and the interest and possibility of evaluating citizenship education.

This evaluation led to the formulation of policy recommendations to renew citizenship education in Europe, to improve the transmission of democratic values and to train more active citizens.

Implementation dates

From 1 march 2017 to 31 may 2020.


Coordinated by France Education International, this project was conducted with ministries of education and institutions specialised in evaluation and educational policies in four European countries:

  • Ministère de l’éducation nationale, de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche, France
  • Ministère de l’éducation, de la culture et du sport, Espagne
  • Ministère de l’éducation, de la recherche et des affaires religieuses, Grèce
  • Département pour l’éducation, Royaume-Uni
  • British Council, Royaume-Uni
  • École d’économie de Paris, France
  • École d’économie et de Sciences politiques de Londres, Royaume-Uni
  • Fondation Européenne Société et Education, Espagne
  • Université de Cergy-Pontoise, France
  • Institut de politique éducative, Grèce
  • Université nationale et capodistrienne d’Athènes, Grèce

Ce projet est financé avec le soutien de la Commission européenne.
Cette publication n'engage que son auteur et la Commission n'est pas responsable de l'usage qui pourrait être fait des informations qui y sont contenues.

Experimental protocol

Teachers’ training

Report of implementation

Impact evaluation

Communication and dissemination