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  NECE 2019: Networking in the midst of Brexit

© bpb/BILDKRAFTWERK/Laurin Schmid

As 2019 is drawing to a close, we look back on a year of political turmoil once again. For anyone following the news in recent months, it was hard to keep up with the wave of popular protest movements and unrest in places as different as Hong Kong, Chile, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Spain, Britain and more. Although no unifying theory of the causes and driving forces of these movements exists, it seems obvious that an increasing number of citizens worldwide are ready and capable of organising themselves to fight against political and social inequalities and for their basic human and democratic rights. As many observers have suggested, these protest movements (along with the polarisation of societies and erosion of democracies) are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

NECE is a platform and network for discussing these trends and its impacts on the practice and theory of citizenship education. In October NECE went to Glasgow, this most welcoming and vibrant Scottish city with an amazing civil society and a well-established system of citizenship education inside and outside of schools. We look back to three intensive conference days with a great variety of inputs, talks and networking contacts.

NECE 2019 looked at the issue of inequalities in the development of (young) people’s citizenship and political identity. By focusing on the growing social and economic divide in our societies the conference also sought to critically examine the role and concepts of citizenship education as we know them. Are they still valid in a rapidly changing world, driven by technological and economic forces ever harder to control? Is citizenship education in its present state able to meet the expectations of many people to show ways forward in polarised and divided societies? (In the very different setting of the Berlin Democracy Conference a few days later similar questions were asked. → see below) To be sure the conference in Glasgow found no easy answers to these complex questions. We will get back to you with our conclusions and ideas in the next newsletter.

Please do not miss our documentation of speeches, lectures and workshop presentations on our website as well as the video files and photos of highlights and plenary sessions.

Our meeting in Glasgow at the end of October 2019 invited an elephant into the room, which was of course Brexit. To be or not to be? Although it was not THE question for the conference, it certainly provided a topical background. Going to a city in Scotland – where people clearly voted to remain in the EU – was a very deliberate choice to send a signal of solidarity. It was to offer a platform for exchange on what European citizenship means in general, and to signal to those about to lose it not to succumb to defeatism.

In 2020 NECE will meet in Berlin from 5 to 8 November – when Germany holds the Presidency of the EU Council – when we will aim to continue and extend this platform for citizenship education in Europe and elsewhere.

So please save the date, stay in touch, and join us in our quest.

Christoph Müller-Hofstede
Federal Agency for Civic Education, Germany/bpb
NECE Coordination

© bpb/BILDKRAFTWERK/Laurin Schmid
Short interview with Michalis Kakos, Leeds Beckett University (United Kingdom), on his view of NECE 2019

NECE: The Scottish city of Glasgow was meant to serve as an ideal location to look at the issue of inequalities in the development of (young) people’s citizenship and political identity. Did this synergy work out and in what way did the venue (Glasgow) have an impact on the audience of this year’s conference?
I think that the topic of the conference is of relevance to many, if not most large European cities. However, the association of Glasgow with the study of social inequalities is particularly strong and the term ‘Glasgow effect’ has attributed an almost symbolic status to the city. This could have been counterproductive to the aims of the conference, trapping the thinking of the conference delegates in the confines of the particular conditions of this city. This was a risk that the conference comfortably avoided by engaging experts in the debates whose contributions assisted delegates in understanding not only the conditions that are particular for Glasgow but also those that are relevant to other places. In that way Glasgow served as a mostly appropriate case study, leaving it to the delegates to transfer this expert knowledge and the debates of the conference to their own cities and contexts. Moreover, the timing of the conference, in conjunction with the location, allowed us to make timely and significant links to Brexit, EU citizenship, etc.

NECE: Still with regard to this year’s venue, how did you experience the cooperation with our Scottish partner organisations Wosdec and IDEAS?
I think that this was a positive collaboration which enriched the conference. It allowed the engagement of the local community, it strengthened the profile of NECE and its recognizability in Scotland and it offered a justification to our tradition in holding the annual conference in different European cities, which could run the risk of appearing as a type of colonial practice. There are also significant lessons learnt from this collaboration which relate to the balance between local agencies’ expectations and NECE objectives, the protection of NECE from the risk of being associated with organisations which may have controversial reputation in national/local communities, etc.

NECE: NECE 2019 opened with a rather unconventional keynote by the Scottish rapper and author Darren by McGarvey. How do you evaluate his keynote and your subsequent talk with him?
Honest, relevant, rich. Find out more by watching the video.

NECE: You invited a school class from York to actively take part in the conference. Do you know how they experienced the conference and could this perhaps become a model for future NECE conferences?
The feedback from staff and students was excellent. I think that NECE conferences are not only opportunities to discuss citizenship education but they are opportunities for and a model of citizenship education in practice. I would welcome the careful involvement of students and schools in future NECE events and especially in the annual conference.

CANDIICE Creative Approaches to New Democracy through Innovative Inclusive Citizenship Education runs from 2019 to 2022.

A new Erasmus Plus programme was launched at NECE Conference 2019. The CANDIICE project, coordinated by School Development Support Agency, Leicester (SDSA), United Kingdom, will make democratic citizenship a more exciting and creative learning activity by bringing imaginative arts methods into the curriculum. The current crisis in democracy, the rise of extremist, divisive politicians and the distorting, mis-use of social media and fake news require citizenship educators to find more inclusive and engaging methodologies to empower the next generation to defend democratic pluralism and the rights of all including minorities. If we want more people to engage with politics, citizenship learning needs to be more inclusive. The CANDIICE project will make a wide variety of creative learning methodologies freely available to educators for all age groups. At this stage, the initiators want to build a network to share new ideas and best current practice. The three-year project has core partners in Lisbon, Zagreb, Marseille and Berlin but welcomes interest from anywhere to join the “sharing group”. This successful Erasmus Plus bid grew from the NECE “All=In Network” and the “Hard to Reach” Focus Group.
Please get in touch if you are interested in making education for democracy more exciting and successful: contact@candiice.com

Adam Newman Turner
Khalid Mahmood

  NECE 2019: Networking Networks (NACE, EENCE, CENESA)

At the NECE Conference 2019 in Glasgow, the NECE sister networks NACE (Networking Arab Civic Education), EENCE (Eastern European Network for Citizenship Education) and CENESA (Civic Education Network for Eastern and Southern Africa) seized the opportunity to gather and used the platform to work on common goals and further ideas of collaboration. The networks have focused on how to make available the shared results of their databases, exploring common challenges, and how to bring their common expertise to the field within the framework of the upcoming history festival “histoCON 2020 – 75 years after WWII: peace under construction” (→ see below), organised by the Federal Agency for Civic Education in May 2020.

Focusing on watch groups aka case studies, and given that the local contexts of all networks are drastically different although they are grappling with many similar challenges, one important question was how to create a platform that enables exchanges between the existing regional networks. These exchanges help the networks to learn from each other's experiences, including challenges, success stories, learning exchanges, identification of synergies and exchanges on a local (regional) or international (across the networks) level.

During the shared workshop of the sister networks, general ideas for the upcoming history festival “histoCON 2020” were discussed while considering the respective memorial culture in all network members’ home countries. It was stressed that the memory of WWII should also include references to today's citizenship education as well as transnational perspectives and give space to unheard voices, including questions of propaganda yesterday and today.

  NACE General Assembly: The newly elected NACE executive board

Prior to the NECE conference, the annual NACE General Assembly congregation took place in Glasgow. The members of the General Assembly focused on administrative and organisational aspects including the annual election of the NACE Executive Board. The new members of the NACE Executive Board are Nelly Corbel (Egypt-France), Jakob Erle (Denmark), Shahdan Arram (Egypt), Khaled Salim (Palestine), Elhossien Mohamed (Egypt), Moez Ali (Tunisia), Hassen Hameli (Tunisia), Ziad Haddara (Lebanon, Gerhart Center AUC Egypt).

Furthermore, NACE organised and hosted the workshop "Are Inequalities the Root Causes of Violent Extremism?" at the NECE Conference 2019. Together with Moez Ali, UTIL/NACE (Tunisia), Sébastien Boussois, Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada) / Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), and Hilary Pilkington, Manchester University (United Kingdom) it discussed whether socio-economic inequality is the root cause of the rising violent extremism in European and southern Mediterranean regions. The workshop aimed to tackle the complexity of this issue and to draw attention to the diverse and interconnected interrelationships leading to violent extremism. Furthermore, the formation of violent extremism, and the avenues which exist to address the issue were highlighted.

© bpb/BILDKRAFTWERK/Laurin Schmid
Meeting of the RFCDC focus group during the NECE conference

With two internal working meetings and one public workshop, the focus group dealing with the Council of Europe Reference Framework Competence for Democratic Culture (RFCDC) was very active during the NECE conference. During the working meetings, the focus group members discussed their ongoing projects in which the potential of RFCDC in formal and non-formal educational contexts is explored. In the public workshop, NECE members could get a short introduction to RFCDC, including an interactive way of getting acquainted with the competence model.

© ProDemos
Newly founded NECE focus group „Parliaments & Citizenship Education“ kick-off

At its first conference in The Hague from 16 to 18 April, the newly founded NECE focus group „Parliaments & Citizenship Education“ provided insights into best practices of civic education and the importance of imparting the core aspects of parliamentary work to young people. The meeting - hosted by ProDemos – established a vast number of new contacts as well as provided invaluable information on programmes of civic education offered by European parliaments, such as those of the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Sweden, and Austria. Members agreed to hold regular information exchanges, including bilateral exchange visits in order to share valuable information on methods used and benefits gained in all member parliaments. Dorothee Ramaekers (ProDemos), in her conference introduction, reported on her visit last November to the Youth Parliament, organised by the Austrian Parliament in Vienna.
For questions or information, please contact Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk at ProDemos.


In this section we strive to assess and analyse the changing political landscape we are confronted with. Please note: Links provided here are meant for information and discussion only. The views expressed there are not necessarily shared by NECE as a networking platform.

  Branko Milanovic: Why we are all Capitalists now! And how this could reduce inequality

As a useful update to the intellectual background of our discussion of inequalities, NECE recommends this conversation between Social Europe Editor-in-Chief Henning Meyer and the leading expert on inequality, Branko Milanovic. Based on his new book "Capitalism, Alone" published by Harvard University Press, they discuss opportunities and conflicts brought by capitalism as the only prevailing socio-economic system today, such as inequality and technology. For anyone interested in following the international debate around inequalities, and the reform of political and economic structures worldwide, Social Europe provides an excellent platform for information and discourse.
Watch the entire podcast here.

  Education, Democracy and Inequality: Political Engagement and Citizenship Education in Europe by Bryony Hoskins and Jan Germen Janmaat

In times of political disaffection, frustration and polarisation, it is particularly important to uncover why young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to engage politically. Examining the role of national education systems in the potential reproduction of these inequalities in political engagement, the authors show that in Europe, the UK has the strongest correlation between social background and voting behaviours. We recommend this timely book to students and scholars of educational inequality and political engagement.
Find more information here.

© Marilo Meta/LDA
Leadership Development Association LDA Balkan holds annual meeting and establishes regional civic education network

On 9 November 2019, in Prishtina (Kosovo), the annual Leadership Development Association LDA Balkan Meeting was held in the presence of youth from five countries: Albania, Kosovo, Serbia (Presevo Valley), Northern Macedonia, and Montenegro. The meeting was led by LDA Balkan President Marilo Meta and Vice President and LDA Kosovo CEO Qendrim Hoxha. Stressing their aim to contribute to the empowerment of their countries’ youth, during the meeting, representatives of all five countries signed the Founding Act establishing a regional civic education network willing to operate within NECE. The Act was signed by:

  • Marilo Meta (Country: Albania),
  • Qendrim Hoxha (Country: Kosovo),
  • Leotrim Edipi (Country: Serbia / Presevo),
  • Vehida Gjoni (Montenegro),
  • Muhamed Sakipi (Country: Northern Macedonia)
The first electoral assembly and the network structures will be decided at the next meeting.
The LDA is engaged in providing professional development opportunities for young people in the Balkans. More information on LDA Balkan can be found via facebook.

  Nobel Prize winners for economics emphasise the role of inclusive education

The Nobel Prize for Economics was awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their pioneering work on global poverty. They look at the spectrum of issues and challenges linked to global poverty, including education, to develop successful antipoverty programmes, which are implemented across the world.
Find three of their policy insights on education here.

  Final turnout data for 2019 European elections announced

The final turnout data from all Member States are now official setting the final turnout at European level at 50.66% (+8.06 pp compared to 2014). with significant increases compared to 2014 recorded in Poland, Romania, Spain, Austria, Hungary and Germany.
Find more information on the turnout numbers and the reasons for voting here.

  Leader in Youth Exchanges - online training course

A new online training course for E+ youth workers aims to respond to the need to train and involve young people in the European context of Erasmus+ mobility and related professions. The online course is free and open to all. The programme has been developed by CESIE and is co-financed by the European Commission through the Erasmus +: Key Action 2 Strategic Partnership in the field of youth programme.
Find more information and apply for the course here.

  UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative: an outlook towards 2050

UNESCO plans a global initiative to rethink education, catalysing a global debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be reimagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and precarity. The initiative relies on evidence-based trend analysis complemented by a broad consultative process that involves youth, educators, civil society, governments, business and other stakeholders. The consultation process will open soon.
Stay tuned!

  Review: Berlin Democracy Conference 2019: "Making Europe Resilient to the Autocratic Challenge: From Knowledge to Action”

© V-Dem Institute

What works in enhancing the resilience of European democracies against illiberal and authoritarian challenges? This question was at the centre of the Berlin Democracy Conference that ran from 11 to 12 November 2019. The organiser, Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem) – in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) – aimed to bridge gaps between different academic sub-fields and to enhance knowledge transfer between research and practice. Participants learned about the current state-of-the-art, drew up policy recommendations for citizenship education, political parties and media, and outlined ideas to facilitate future research and knowledge transfer.

The topic of citizenship education featured prominently in keynote speeches and two workshops. Many participants called for more and better citizenship education, especially in schools. Several scholars presented evidence that citizenship education works by enhancing political knowledge and in some cases also supporting democracy and civic competence. A heated debate took place on whether or not civic education should be neutral or partial towards democracy and clearly democratic parties.
Videos and more detailed reports of the conference are available here.

Report by Anna Lührmann
University of Gothenburg/ V-Dem Institute
  Review: Education for European democratic citizenship forum, 19-21 November in Strasbourg, France

The first edition brought together around 120 practitioners from the youth and education fields, researchers, policy makers, and civil society organisations, giving them the opportunity to learn from each other and exchange on the topic of future visions of Europe. The forum is hosted by the French Agency for Erasmus + Youth and Sport.
More information is available here.
  Lifelong Learning Week 2019: Learning Democracy, Values and Participation, 2-6 December in Brussels, Belgium

With a total of 16 different events the LLLWeek seeks to debate the importance of civic participation in political life at all levels – local, regional, national, European, and international – and the role that is played by a lifelong learning approach to citizenship. The 9th edition will take place in cooperation with the Finnish Presidency of the EU Council, the Youth intergroup and the Lifelong Learning Interest Group of the European Parliament, as well as partners such as CONCORD Europe and ECAS.
Want to participate? Register here.
  Looking back, thinking forward: Apply for eCommemoration Project Europe 1945-2020

In November 2019, Körber-Stiftung and EUSTORY started a digital commemoration project on the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Up to 25 young people from different countries in Europe and beyond will reflect on the legacies of 1945 in a closed virtual classroom. Körber Stiftung is now looking for young people to participate in this project.
Those who are interested in participating in the programme are welcome to apply here.
© bpb
HistoCON 2020 – 75 years after World War II: Peace under construction?

Save the date! On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, bpb is organising histoCon 2020, to take place from 6 to 9 May in Berlin. Over 500 young people between the ages of 18 and 35 from countries all over the world will be invited to discuss global perspectives on the history and outcomes of WWII as well as hopes and outlooks for a peaceful future.
More information on how to take part and a call for ideas for workshops, lectures and other formats for the event will be published shortly at http://www.bpb.de → histocon2020.

  Wanted: Your Contribution to the NECE Newsletter!  
  Are you involved in citizenship education in Europe or North Africa? Are you running projects aimed at promoting democratic values and tolerance in your country or region? Do you think NECE (and the readers of this Newsletter) should know about your project and do you want to enlist their support/advice? We’d love to hear from you! Send your contributions, ideas, comments, and questions to: nece-newsletter@labconcepts.de

The NECE team wishes everyone a wonderful Christmas Holiday and a Happy New Year!


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The NECE Newsletter is published regularly and distributed via e-mail. It is available to anyone on the www.nece.eu website. The newsletter is published by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education), which is responsible for its content according to definitions laid down by the German Telemedia Act.

Image Rights:
Header Image: © bpb/BILDKRAFTWERK/Laurin Schmid

Further contact information:
Federal Agency for Civic Education
Adenauerallee 86
53113 Bonn (Germany)

Responsible for the content:
Christoph Müller-Hofstede

Editorial support:
Susanne Pöschko & Marie Serwe

If you have any questions please e-mail to: nece-newsletter@labconcepts.de