Each person, regardless of age or socio-economic position, belongs to various types of community, both geographical communities which include from local to global, and communities of interest, goals or purpose. Citizenship involves enjoying rights and exercising responsibilities in these various types of community.
Citizenship education refers to the use of education for preparing and training individuals to become active and responsible citizens of a country. Citizenship within schools aims to enable people to play an effective role in society by developing skills of communication and enquiry and enhancing participation as well as responsible action.
Education for citizenship is important because every society needs people who can contribute effectively, in a variety of ways, to the future health and wellbeing of communities and the environment, locally, nationally and globally.
Citizenship is about making informed choices and decisions, and about taking action, individually and as part of collective processes. Being a citizen is, therefore, closely bound up with the multiple roles that individuals have in society, either as producers or consumers of goods and services, or as contributors to economic and cultural development, as well as with various facets of each individual's personal, social and working life.
Active and responsible citizenship is not only concerned with individuals having a sense of belonging, or functioning in communities, but it involves an aspect of corporate or institutional life.
In the process of citizenship education, educational institutions, parents, religious organizations, community organizations, and others are all 'carriers' of citizenship.
Citizenship education assumes that citizenship is much more than a matter of legal status or political identity, but involves a set of values, interests and involvement as well. Generally, citizenship education aims to achieve not just knowledge impartation of citizenship and civic society, but attempts to bestow a sense of loyalty, commitment, understanding and duty in the lives of the individuals of a nation.
"The purpose of citizenship education in schools and colleges is to make
secure and to increase the knowledge, skills and values relevant to the nature
and practices of participative democracy; also to enhance the awareness of
rights and duties, and the sense of responsibilities needed for the
development of pupils into active citizens; and in so doing to establish the
value to individuals, schools and society of involvement in the local and
wider community." ("Crick Report", 1996).
Beyond these definitions, there is significant variation in belief about what constitutes an effective approach to citizenship education. The relationship between various groups and the governments are part of the on-going debate.
There are four major areas of citizenship education that are usually distinguished. They include: - Civil, Political, Socio-economic and Cultural or collective domains. The first three were identified by T. H.Marshall after the Second World War, and the fourth emerged after that.