ERG SES C 07, Learning and Education
The configuration and the practice of citizenship and gender equality are some of the formal missions of the Portuguese public schools. Historically, these matters have also been the subject to concern, struggles and interventions by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) (Magalhães, 1998). This paper addresses the results of the first study of a PhD research that aims to understand the educational profiles and roles played by different CSOs, concerning citizenship and gender issues in local school contexts. We analyse the Portuguese policies for gender equality and discuss their main dimensions considering some of the most recent changes in the Portuguese educational field. By doing so, we intend to identify the way the current policy architecture conceives the encounter between CSOs and schools, regarding gender equality and citizenship education.
Since 1997, Portugal addresses gender equality through specific policies, named National Plans for Gender Equality. These documents try to define a political meaning for gender equality, but due to the openness and contested nature of the gender equality concept (Lombardo, Meier & Verloo, 2009), several meanings can co-exist. In an era of risk, different political ambitions and societal ideals can emerge from individualized risk governance agendas, magnifying the tension that underlies the gender equality concept. Risk governance tends to emphasise an individualized political definition of equality – narrowing its meaning – and to subordinate equality initiatives to broader neoliberal policy agendas (Amery, 2018).
Concerning some of the most recent Portuguese educational policy changes, is being implemented, since 2017, a pedagogical strategy which seeks to enhance the autonomy and the curricular flexibility of primary and secondary education (Project for Autonomy and Curricular Flexibility). In the same year, the National Strategy for Citizenship Education (NSCE), in convergence with the Student Profile at the end of Compulsory Education and with the Essential Learning Outcomes, became a reference document for schools. In NSCE, Gender Equality (among other subjects such as Human Rights, Interculturality, Sustainable Development, Environmental Education and Health), appears as a mandatory theme that must be addressed along the whole educational journey. For each of these topics there are educational reference guides, provided by the Ministry of Education, and schools are encouraged to engage with their communities, namely with CSOs, enriching the educational curricula with concrete social experiences and practices.
CSOs have progressively become recognized as legitimate and formal interlocutors in the formulation and in the execution of citizenship and gender equality public policies (Alvarez, 2009). Still, it is important to consider that, beyond the gender equality label, there can be a wide range of goals and policies, namely risk governance agendas (Repo, 2016) that tend to narrow its political meaning. Therefore, these policies can also play a wider influence in the ways CSOs conceive gender equality (Monteiro, 2013) and the topics that are prioritized in their own political agendas and in their educational strategies.
This research is funded by FCT PhD studentship (SFRH/BD/128591/2017)
This presentation regards an empirical study concerning the analysis of citizenship education and gender equality policies. It aims to understand what these policies and programs state about: meanings and definitions of gender equality at this policy level; the place and role of Education, particularly Citizenship Education, in what regards gender equality and the role played by CSOs and schools in this matter. We proceed with a documental analysis supported by a thematic analysis (Clarke & Braun, 2013) that is primarily focused on the six National Plans for Gender Equality: National Plan for Global Opportunities (1997-2002); National Plan for Equality (2003-2006); National Plan for Equality – Citizenship and Gender (2007-2010); National Plan for Equality, Gender, Citizenship and Non-Discrimination (2011-2013); National Plan for Equality, Gender, Citizenship and Non-Discrimination (2014-2017) and the National Strategy for Equality and Non-Discrimination (2018-2030). These documents offer a general diagnosis of gender inequalities, present the outcomes pursued by the policy strategies and try to define a political meaning for gender equality. Regarding some of the recent educational policy changes, we proceed with a documental analysis of the following documents: Project for Autonomy and Curricular Flexibility; Student Profile at the end of Compulsory Education; Essential Learning Outcomes and the National Strategy for Citizenship Education. Through this analysis we intend to characterize the curricular and organizational context that is being promoted through policy and understand how the relational and collaborative opportunities between schools and CSOs are set and play an educational role, particularly in citizenship education regarding gender equality.
This PhD research intends to enlarge the scientific and the public knowledge about the educational role that CSOs plays in Portugal, within schools, concerning gender and citizenship subjects. The first study is taking place in the first semester of 2019. It aims to understand how the meaning of gender equality is being shaped by public policies and how the relationship between CSOs and schools is being framed and formed in the current policy context. The gender equality analysis demands for an identification of the broadening political initiatives that can enlarge the meaning of gender equality, but that can also threaten its substantive meaning (Lombardo et al., 2009). This analysis should also recognise the proposals that, under the political goal of gender equality, are being used to justify other purposes, merely related with gender equality and by then are bending it’s meaning (ibidem). At the educational level, the analysis focusses on the chances for Citizenship Education being regarded as a reflexivity space where the educational experience is about the conditions that make action and subjectivity possible (Biesta, 2007), or as locus for prevention strategies, that tends to prioritize the identification of social groups labelled as being at risk and targeting risky behaviours, that can be managed through the promotion of a self-regulated autonomy, that its heavily depoliticized (Bialostok, 2015).
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