Calling all reformers: write a submission on citizenship education

****Note: the consultation has been extended until Friday 17th January 2014. More information at the NCCA CSPE consultation online****


The need for citizens to respond to the social, political and economic ills in Ireland has never been greater.

Many years of rapid economic growth and political administration over the dominance of the market economy into both public and private life have amounted in a long period of boom and bust – both in market economics and in politics.

Many of our core institutions are now seen as broken: public trust in politics, in the way politics is done and by the people who are electable; trust in the goals of society and how citizens participate and drive this agenda; trust in our ability to protect what’s important for everyone in Ireland, how we treat those at the margins and those who are different from the majority in society; trust in the rule of law and its capacity for producing a just world.

How students and citizens are equipped to respond to these broken institutions of public trust is the key challenge for civic, social and political education (CSPE) in Ireland. Just to give one example, according to the Eurobarometer survey for 2012, 86 per cent of Irish people said corruption is part of Ireland’s business culture, compared to the much lower EU average of 67 per cent.

Perhaps it’s worth asking: was civic education unfit in preparing young people to respond to the civic, social and political challenges that Ireland faced over the past 15 years?

The mixing agents that characterise the performance of governing democracies are based on political participation, civic engagement, transparency and accountability. Even a cursory glance in broadsheet newspapers of civic life under any one of these themes leaves them competing with the realities in a post Celtic Tiger Ireland: voter apathy, civic disengagement, state secrecy and a business culture that relies on corrupt and unethical practices.

Failed states and developing countries do not hold a monopoly on the challenges to good governance.

While the senior cycle Politics and Society subject has yet to be introduced and bring continuity to civics education in formal education at secondary level, the consultation on CSPE is the most important reform to civic education in Ireland in over a decade.

Ending world hunger, acting on unfair trade and caring about international justice and human rights issues starts with understanding your rights, responsibilities and opportunities and knowing how to act on them.

With five weeks to go there is plenty of time to prepare a response to the National Curriculum Council and Assessment (NCCA) consultation document.

Make sure to get one in on time for your school, group or organisation!

Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) consultation

Consultation deadline: Friday 20th December 2013

Documentation: Draft specification for CSPE short course | NCCA | 2013 | 26 pages

There are two ways to respond to the consultation

  1. Send submissions to and include CSPE in the subject line of the email
  2. Give your feedback online and complete the online survey (open to individuals and organisations)

The specification is quite short and produced in a readable manner for many readers so don’t be put off by the page count.

Submissions should cover the syllabus content, teacher resources, assessment and evaluation suggestions.

The feedback survey has a good range of questions that can motivate various responses to the consultation so take a look at it too.

Voter apathy, civic disengagement and the idea that people have become only citizens in name will continue to go unchallenged as long as people do nothing about it.

Contributing towards the new syllabus presents an opportunity to avoid ‘shallow’ civic education and instead secure meaningful, deep learning in an engaging and critical environment to the key challenges Ireland’s democracy now presents to young people.

Start a submission today.