Citizenship Education in Schools

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Educational attainment improves the lives of individuals in society. Not all the time, however, that children excel in the educational system because schools employ the same methods that have been existent for a long time despite the changes in the advent of technological advancements and globalization, pressure on performance still exists with little regard to what the school going child is actually interested in. the education system is designed in such a way that students do not have much input on what should be covered in schools or how it has to be delivered. The decisions on matters curriculum have been left in the hands of policymakers and minimal input from parents under the assumption that they know what is best for the children. Cases of undue influence on the children are common especially from parents who often choose for children what they have to study in school. There is a need for an in-depth involvement of students on what the education system has to offer because the effect falls on their lives. Effective involvement of teachers in research and development is vital to ensure that they are updated with the current trends in the world so that their input can be in tandem to the student needs. Additionally, the policymakers and curriculum developers need to be cognizant of the current trends and develop policies that promote the development of individual skills, nurture critical thinking, communication, as well as collaboration.

Education Citizenship

Citizenship education, according to Schugurensky and Myers (2008), “is the development of good democratic citizens.” Over the last two decades, there have been notable transformations in citizenship education globally. In the past, schools concentrated in teaching and preparation of students and the young people for living and working in a nation-state, however, as a result of globalization, regional integration, travel and migration opportunities, technological advancements those physical and educational borders associated with nation-states have since been broken down (Keating, 2013). It is this evolution that further cements the need for inclusion of citizenship in the curricula in the bid to shape the identities, skills, civic behaviors, and values of the young people as they prepare for their roles as citizens.

Citizenship has the power to motivate and educate the young people into becoming thoughtful and active citizens who engage with and participate in public life. According to Schugurensky and Myers (2008), through citizenship education, well-informed, emancipatory, responsible, and critical thinkers are nurtured. An informed generation of young people will shift their involvement and take an active role in matters affecting society and be able to act without any influence (Brighouse, 2006). Similarly, Pineda-Alfonso (2014) argues that the treatment for contemporary problems in the society lies with citizenship education which promotes critical thinking beyond a deep-rooted academic content education system.

Through learning, the younger generation gets to be informed about their origin and the way of life. As Keating (2013) pointed out, schools play a critical role in imparting values, behavior, and attitudes that define a citizen. The young people have to be informed and prepared for their role as citizens, something that can only be done by learning as this cannot be inherited. Further, integration of citizenship education into other subjects beyond a discrete subject will impart information and cultivate skills that can be linked to citizenship activities (Keating et al., 2010; Kahne et al., 2013; Keating, 2013). Brighouse (2006) is of the opinion that citizenship education should actually be made compulsory. Additionally, Syed (2013) further underscores the importance of teaching citizenship through other subjects of the curriculum, with the aim of connecting every aspect of education to the societal problems that require solutions.

There is a need for an informed generation to foster and appreciate cultural diversity in the advent of globalization. Without ignoring the relevance of national identity and sovereignty, Schugurensky and Myers (2008) opined that citizenship education is vital in promoting multiculturalism, which is over and above just recognizing cultural diversity, thereby developing the spirit that transcends nation-state boundaries. According to Syed (2013), education is meant to help people live a better life and give contribution both locally and globally, thus the need for integration of citizenship into the education system to develop global citizens to curb deterioration of societal values.

Who Should have a say in Schools

The education system comprises of a number of stakeholders who all have a role to play towards the betterment and success of the system. Questions have, however, arisen as to who should have a say in schools even as the involved parties work towards a common goal-success of the students- but with divergent demands and expectations. The stakeholders include parents, employers, children, policymakers, politicians, and the society at large, who are all constantly proclaiming, according to Brighouse (2006), what the school should be doing.

Children should have more to say about education in schools, under the guidance of their parents and other stakeholders. According to Brighouse (2006), the interests of children should take center stage as opposed to those of the parents, politicians, employers, churches, and the society at large. The children should be at liberty to choose what to learn, even if it means revising or rejecting what has been passed down from parents. Contrary to Brighouse’s argument, Bogenschneider, & Johnson (2004) are of the opinion that involvement of parents is vital because achievement in academics rests with the parents and should, therefore, have a say on what should be the case in schools. A counterargument from Brighouse (2006) is that children should be enabled to pursue in autonomous fashion the life they choose to value.

Similarly, teachers have a role to play in matters school and education in general, especially with regard to curriculum development. Their involvement in every step of curriculum development should be to ensure that aspects that are of value to the children are included in the curriculum. They should, therefore, take lead in research roles to champion what best fits the children, with the assumption that they know best what is of benefit (Harlen, 2006; Mkandawire et al., 2018). Some quotas especially the parents’ lobby groups insist that parents should have more grip on schools than any other stakeholder including the students. Further arguments for the involvement of parents suggest that more control to the extent of shielding their children from alternatives to their own way of life (Brighouse, 2006).

Politicians and employers alike have always had intentions of controlling schools and the education system in general. The political class is more concerned about education that is aligned with the future economic growth while employers want the system to be aligned to their employment demands and expectations (Brighouse, 2006). According to Brighouse (2006), “students need the kind of education that will enable them to be effective participants of the economy,” which does not warranty employers and politicians to steer the system to meet their demands. Emphasis should be for the children to pursue what they value.

Friendships in Schools

Friendship is a relationship that is grounded on concern and welfare of others. It is central to individuals’ lives because to some level, friendship shapes people. There are concerns whether friendship has a positive or negative impact on school going children. It is for this reason that Healy (2016) pointed out that “no best friend” policy has crept back to schools because it is seen to be the dangerous dark side of friendship.

Friendship is important as it plays a major role in the development of a child. Studies on the need of friendship have found that children are presented with an opportunity to acquire skills, attitudes, and experiences that shape their psychological life through friendship. There is a clear disregard of how important relationships are from the proponents of such policies with arguments that real friendships should be avoided until a later age because young children are developmentally incapable of forming such friendships. The proponents champion for friendships with everyone without any preference (Bukowski, 2001; Healy, 2016; Hartup & Stevens, 1997; Palmen, 2009).

Bernstein (2007) argues that the notion behind what is interpreted to be against friendships is because friendship crowds the moral judgment of an individual. Special preference is often given to friends because “friends are entitled to have their interests specially considered.” Friendship is therefore considered an obligation to behave partially in certain circumstances.

Friendships are key in the development of social skills in children and at the same time learn to appreciate others. Carter and Nutbrown (2016) children should be helped to make meaning of their friendship experiences. Further, there is a need to generate an educational perspective on friendship in early childhood education


For the longest time, education has always been about acquiring good grades in fields that can easily land one a job has always been about compliance and conformity as a means to guard the secured employment for the longest time possible, until retirement. Time has changed, a lot has changed as well but not much of the changes have been incorporated into the education system and schools to keep pace with the changes in the society. The time of conformity and compliance is long gone and the system should be revised to give priority to creativity. It is extremely important if the children are allowed to study in what they have the most interest in as opposed to this being dictated by the influence of the employers, parents, and the politicians.

The standardized method of teaching following set standards on the curriculum discourages innovation, yet still because of conformity. The system rewards only those who excel in education as it is at the moment leaving out other students who are talented in areas that are not covered under the curriculum. This has an effect in the skills available in that training is done on specific areas leaving out those that are yet to be included. The focus should be on nurturing skills of the young people and giving them opportunities to put those skills into use rather than suppressing them and having an influence on what should be explored.


Bernstein, M. (2007). Friends without Favoritism. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 41(1), pp.59-76.

Bogenschneider, K., & Johnson, C. (2004). Family involvement in education: How important is it? What can legislators do? In K. Bogenschneider & E. Gross (Eds.), A policymaker’s guide to school finance: Approaches to use and questions to ask (Wisconsin Family Impact Seminar Briefing Report No. 20, pp. 19-29). Madison: University of Wisconsin Center for Excellence in Family Studies.

Brighouse, H. (2006). On Education London: Routledge

Bukowski, W. (2001). Friendship and the world of childhood. In D. W Nangle, & C. A. Erdley (Eds.), The Role of Friendship in Psychological Adjustment (pp. 93-105): Jossy-Bass.

Carter, C. and Nutbrown, C. (2016). A Pedagogy of Friendship: young children’s friendships and how schools can support them. International Journal of Early Years Education, 24(4), pp.395-413.

Harlen, W. (2006). A Stronger Teacher Role in Curriculum Development? Journal of Curriculum Studies, 9(1), pp.21-29.

Hartup, W. & Stevens, N. (1997). Friendships and adaptation in the life course. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 355-370.

Healy, M. (2016). Should Children Have Best Friends? Studies in Philosophy and Education, 36(2), pp.183-195.

Kahne, J., Crow, D., & Lee, N. J. (2013). Different pedagogy, Different Politics: High school learning opportunities and youth political engagement. Political Psychology, 34(3), 419-441.

Keating, A. (2013). Educating tomorrow’s citizens: what role can schools play?

Keating, A., Kerr, D., Benton, T., Mundy, E., and Lopes, J. (2010) Citizenship education in England 2001-2010: young people's practices and prospects for the future: the eighth and final report from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS).

Mkandawire, M., Maulidi, F., Sitima, J. and Luo, Z. (2018). Who Should Be Deciding What to Be Taught in Schools? Perspectives from Secondary School Teacher Education in Malawi. Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development, 5.

Palmen, H. (2009). Friendship and Aggression in Elementary School. The friendships of aggressive children and the effects of having aggressive friends.

Pineda-Alfonso, J. (2014). Citizenship Education as an Integrative Purpose of the Curriculum: Potentials and Difficulties. 10.13140/RG.2.1.3469.2968.

Schugurensky, D. and Myers, J. (2008). Citizenship Education: Theory, Research, and Practice. Encounters in Theory and History of Education, 4.

Syed, G. (2013). How Appropriate is it to Teach Citizenship Through Main Curriculum Subjects? Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, [online] 12(2), pp.136-142. Available at: [Accessed 25 Dec. 2018].

August 14, 2023

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