Citizenship lessons are an increasingly important part of education in Europe, and a new study by the EU has revealed that the UK is leading the way.
According to a report produced by the Eurydice network, all members of the European Union now include lessons on citizenship in their primary and secondary schools.
While the subject is widely included in school curricula, the research found varying degrees of adoption and praised the UK for its proactive approach to citizenship studies.
Teaching young people the ability to think critically while developing their analytical skills and social and school participation form the main part of the widely-held consensus of what citizenship education includes, but divergence occurs when it comes to teacher training in the subject.
While the report highlights the importance of improving the knowledge and skills of those in citizenship teaching roles, the UK stands alongside Slovakia as the only European countries to offer training in the subject to prospective teachers.
The majority of countries surveyed were found to be in support of citizenship teaching, but few had implemented reforms to their initial teacher training programmes to take in the subject, with the UK and Slovakia alone among the 31 that were assessed.
Researchers believe that a more unified approach to the teaching and assessment of citizenship could be beneficial if young people are to be encouraged to actively contribute to political and social life.
Commenting on the study's findings, Androulla Vassiliou, commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, said: "Citizenship education endows pupils with the necessary knowledge, skills and values to actively engage in our society.
"We must encourage this because active participation is at the root of our democratic values in Europe. We also need to put more emphasis on teacher training in this area so that young people are inspired to become active citizens."
Eurydice is a network of 33 countries from across the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme that includes both member and non-member states working together to provide analysis of education systems and policies in Europe.
Posted by Tim Colman