The CVS Curriculum includes a series of activities that allow pupils to actively exercise their democratic and intercultural (DI) competences through urban regeneration activities, making their voices heard about their needs, views and dreams regarding their closest “urban” spaces. Pupils belong to different groups and communities and they have to take on the responsibility of each of them; adults caring for pupils have to help them in doing that. Adults can help pupils to adequately manage this responsibility starting from closer contexts (for example, the school) to further contexts (for example, the town).
Children are not the citizens of the future, they are already citizens, and their voices need to be heard by policy-makers. They need to be protagonists able to express their needs, views and dreams about urban spaces in dialogue with local administrations. In order to do that, the CVS Curriculum foresees the involvement of local policy-makers dealing with the urban sector with whom pupils can discuss their own proposals.
The Curriculum has been developed on the basis of some general, theoretical and methodological considerations; they are described below.
1. General considerations underlying the CVS Curriculum
The Curriculum has been developed on the basis of some general considerations:
- article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC),
- article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
1.1 Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
- States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
“Article 12 of the UNCRC establishes the right of children to be involved in decisions that affect them, both as individuals and as a group. This right to be heard and taken seriously is one of the fundamental values of the Convention (…). Article 12 (is) one of its four general principles. In other words, it must be considered in the implementation of all other rights, and as one of the general measures of implementation of the UNCRC.
Article 12 (…) recognises the child as an active agent in the exercise of his or her rights.
This right of active engagement has been broadly conceptualised as ‘participation’ (…) (t)he term participation (…) is now very widely used, as a shorthand term to describe the process of children expressing their views and having them taken seriously.
Participation can be defined as an ongoing process of children’s expression and active involvement in decision-making at different levels in matters that concern them. It requires information-sharing and dialogue between children and adults based on mutual respect, and requires that full consideration of their views be given, taking into account the child’s age and maturity.
Children can form and express views from the earliest age, but the nature of their participation, and the range of decisions in which they are involved, will necessarily increase in accordance with their age and evolving capacities. Young children’s participation will be largely limited to issues relating to their immediate environment within the family, care facilities and their local community. However, as they grow older and their capacities develop, their horizons broaden and they are entitled to be involved in the wide range of issues that affect them from the immediate family to the international level.
(T)he UN General Assembly Omnibus resolution in November 2009 (…) urged governments to:
“Assure that children are given the opportunity to be heard on all matters affecting them, without discrimination on any grounds, by adopting and/or continuing to implement regulations and arrangements that provide for and encourage, as appropriate, children’s participation in all settings, including within the family, in school and in their communities, and that are firmly anchored in laws and institutional codes and that are regularly evaluated with regard to their effectiveness.”
Across the world, (…) thousands of initiatives have been introduced, and spaces for children’s voices have been created, from the school to the global community.
The last 20 years have been a period of advocacy to promote and legitimate the concept of participation, and of exploration of strategies for translating it into practice. Indeed, for many people, children’s rights have become synonymous with participation.
Nevertheless, the right to be heard and taken seriously remains elusive for most children across the world. And even where it is implemented, it is often only in limited aspects of a child’s life and largely through short-term projects and programmes. Full implementation of Article 12 continues to be impeded by many long-standing practices, cultures and attitudes, and by political and economic obstacles. Furthermore, younger children and girls, as well as many other marginalised and minority groups, face particular barriers in the realisation of this right. There is also concern about the quality of much of the practice that does exist. There is a need for better understanding of what Article 12 involves; the benefits of its implementation; how to implement it for children of all ages; and the approaches needed to achieve meaningful and ethical participation in decision-making.
The real challenge now is to apply the learning from the past 20 years to embed participation as a sustainable right for all children, in all areas of their lives.”
(Save the Children, 2011, pp.3-4).
“The experience of child participation (provides evidence) that participation has a widespread positive impact. If adults are to fulfil their obligations to promote the best interests of children, they need to listen to children themselves. The Committee on the Rights of the Child considers that recognising the right of the child to express views and to participate in various activities, according to her or his evolving capacities, is beneficial for the child, the family, the community, the school, the state and democracy”
(Save the Children, 2011, p. 5).
- Contributes to personal development
- Leads to better decision-making and outcomes
- Serves to protect children
- Contributes top reparation for civil society development, tolerance and respect for others
- Strengthens accountability
1.2 Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
- Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
“It is (…) important to recognise the strong concept of community, mutuality and responsibility embodied within the human rights discourse. (…) The significance of the word ‘alone’ (…) is that it recognises that individuals do not exist as isolated beings but live in societies, towards which they must act responsibly if they are to develop their true humanity”
(Save the Children, 2011, p.16).
2. The theoretical framework of the CVS Curriculum
The CVS Curriculum has been developed on the basis of some theoretical considerations:
- the Council of Europe’s RFCDC (Barrett et al., 2018a, b, c),
- the relation between civic engagement and child development,
- the participatory urban planning,
- the relation between urban planning and immigrant children.
2.1 The relation between civic engagement and child development
… (to do)
2.2 The participatory urban planning
The verb “to participate” means:
- “to take part” (do with others) to a specific action or process;
- “to be part of” an organism, a group, a community.
The “participatory planning” is a methodological perspective that foresees the collaboration of several actors of a community (citizens, administrators and technicians) involved in territorial planning or implementing a common project.
It is a bottom-up approach, particularly successful in urban areas since it provides the administrators with a useful support for improving the quality of urban services
Decision-making processes initiated with this methodology contribute to creating in citizens a sense of belonging to places and facilitate the implementation of projects in fragile or difficult contexts
Planning activities attentive to the sustainable development of the territory must be based on actions not suffered or imposed, but the result of a process concerted and shared.
The participatory planning thus comes to design a framework of cohesion that unites citizens, administrators and several stakeholders, integrating them with the territory and local resources.
Participatory planning is based on the following principles:
- People can produce change
- Changes made by social groups are more likely to be lasting than those imposed from the outside
- Communities can develop the skills to face their problems without necessarily having to delegate this task to the outside
- If the problem to be faced is complex, the intervention of several subjects is necessary
- To tackle some problems, it is important to activate the resources of the territory
- Democratic processes require that people participate in the production and control of changes that affect them
Participatory planning is a particularly appreciated method because:
- it contrasts the current tendency towards the isolation of urban realities and is oriented to re-establish a sense of common life
- it allows to take into account the plurality of interests present in a territory and the normal conflict that is triggered in the processes of change.
The initiatives that consider young people as resources for the programs in the territory (for example, by giving them the opportunity to contribute to the definition and the change of social reality) have:
- increased the sense of self-awareness and self-efficacy,
- improved mental well-being and school results,
- decreased rates of school dropout, delinquency and use of substances (WHO, 2006).
2.3 The relation between urban planning and immigrant children
… (to do)
3. The methodological framework of the CVS Curriculum
The Curriculum has been developed on the basis of some methodolocial considerations:
- the curriculum is a plan for learning,
- a projet-based and a service-based learning approach,
- cooperative approach in teaching and learning processes,
- redundant teaching/learning methodology,
- experiential learning,
- a cross-curricolar approach,
- communicative skills,
- use of poetry,
- use of descriptors for assessing children’s DI competeces,
- co-assessment of children’s DI competences,
- the active involvement of senior citizens in their community.
3.1 The CVS Curriculum is “a plan for learning”
It has been developed in the form of the description of learning outcomes, of learning content and of learning processes for a specified period of study. (to do; see Volume 3 of the RFCDC)
3.2 Project-based and service-based learning approaches
The CVS Curriculum has been developed according to a project-based learning approach for Module 1 and a service-based learning approach for Module 2. (to do; see Volume 3 of the RFCDC)
3.3 Cooperative approach in teaching and learning processes
The cooperative approach both at teachers and children level. (to do; see Volume 3 of the RFCDC)
3.4 Redundant teaching/learning methodology
The CVS Curriculum makes use of a “redundant” (and so stable and predictable by teachers and children) teaching/learning methodology in order to favor the development of teachers’ and children’s confidence in teaching/learning process. (to do)
3.5 The experiential learning
The curriculum reflects and is clearly aligned to everyday, real-life issues. (to do; see Volume 3 of the RFCDC)
3.6 Communicative skills
The curriculum also has a special focus on the “knowledge and critical understanding of language and cmmunictaion” (children’voices) competence. To help children develop their communication skills.
“In democratic cultures, individuals often realise their competences in interaction with others and therefore an important competence is that of “knowledge and critical understanding of language and cmmunictaion”, meaning that individuals are awre of, and can implement, socially appropriate verbal and non-verbal communicative conventiens in the languages or language variets they nedd for a specifi situation” (RFCDC, Vol. 3, p. 17). (to do)
3.7 Cross-curricolar approach
Using a cross-curricolar approach; in doing that, several activities can be integrated in differenct school subjects. For instance,
- English teacher can select texts dealing with the issues of democracy, inteculturlity, and participation;
- Geometry teacher could link his/her activities to the creation of the maps and the planning for real,
- History and Geography teacher could link his/her activities to the issues of the CVS Curriculum.
3.8 Use of poetry
Using poetry as a tool to promote mutual understanding of common European values. (to do)
3.9 Use of descriptors for assessing children’s DI competeces
The use of descriptors allows not only to recognize what children can do, but also the future lines of his/her educational intervention. (to do; see Volume 2 of the RFCDC)
3.10 Co-assessment of children’s DI competences
Use of self-report and teachers’ assessment. (to do; see Volume 2 and 3 of the RFCDC)
3.11 The active involvement of senior citizens in their community
The CVS Curriculum foresees the active involvement of senior citizens in their community. The aim was to get elderly people actively engaged both in their community to foster intergenerational learning and dialogue, and to improve young people’s knowledge and enhance their understanding of how the past can impact on today’s society. Intergenerational learning activities were developed to enable senior citizens to share their experiences with children, including stories of their life. The activities has also been designed to bridge the intergenerational gap between the two.
 A community is a group of persons who share some common elements:
- the place of life (inhabitants of the same neighbourhood, of the same city, of the same school…),
- identity (persons belonging to the same ethnic group, who are of the same age or occupation…),
- the sphere of interests or affinities (individuals sharing the same faith…),
- or other common circumstances.
It is a multidimensional concept that recalls a complexity of horizontal and vertical relationships between people and organizations.