Drivers and hurdles of civic education

PRIF Working Paper by Raphaela Schlicht-Schmälzle on education system conditions of civic knowledge acquisition

Photo: Alliance for Excellent Education/Flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0 |

Photo: Alliance for Excellent Education/Flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0 |

Among OECD countries, large differen­ces prevail in the level of students' civic education. Social inequality in civic education also varies signifi­cantly across national contexts – as shown by data from the Inter­national Civic and Citizen­ship Education Study (ICCS) from 2016. Can these inter-state differen­ces be explained by the different conditions of the res­pective education systems? In her new PRIF Working Paper, "Students' Civic Knowledge Achieve­ment – A Cross-National Com­parative Analysis", Raphaela Schlicht-Schmälzle identifies education system conditions that display a correlation with students' political knowledge acqui­sition.

The study provides evidence that, first, a post-graduate degree for teachers, second, horizontal curri­culum integration of civic issues rather than isolation in politics classes only, and third, a macro-societal culture of classroom debate have a positive impact on civic education in schools. A perfor­mance-based secondary education system, on the other hand, proves to be a constraint. Moreover, certain education system conditions affect students from diverse social back­grounds differently and thus have the potential to either reduce or even increase social inequality. The results can inform policy­makers about potential means to make civic education more effective and acces­sible for all students.

Schlicht-Schmälzle, Raphaela (2021): Students’ Civic Knowledge Achievement – A Cross-National Comparative Analysis, PRIF Working Papers No. 55, Frankfurt/M.