20 SES 08 A, Innovative Learning Environments for Future Citizens in a Multicultural Society
This project´s overall goal is to increase political participation and civic engagement of migrants and ethnic minorities and to promote an active citizenship. Active citizenship is linked to the acquisition of “civic competences” as part of transversal competence. Active Citizenship of migrants and members of ethnic minorities is regarded as an investment in the quality of democracy that and will inevitably result in higher representation at different level of power in the receiving country.
To this end, this study aims at developing, testing and disseminating innovative approaches, methods and materials to promote migrants´ active citizenship. Experts in seven European countries cooperate in a 24 month project in order to design and test new approaches to strengthen civic, social and intercultural competences of: (1.) migrants and members of ethnic minorities, (2.) members of receiving countries, esp. stakeholders of parties, NGOs, public authorities, (3.) adult learning professionals.
Migrants and people of migrant origin constitute an important proportion - approximately 8.8 % - of societies in European countries, the phenomenon is on the rise. However, the civic engagement and political participation of migrants and people of migrant origin is very low (Reed-Danahay & Brettell, 2008). Low level of involvement in the political process inevitably results in low representation at different level of power (EACEA, 2012). Political exclusion of migrants negatively affects social cohesion and social justice, this exclusion compromises the democratic quality of representation and participation in receiving societies (Paral, 2010). There is a consensus among European states to measure democracy not only by its constitutional procedures but also in the underlying social structures. Ethnic associational life as well as more general civic engagement of migrants is not only in the interest of migrants, but also an investment in the quality of democracy. Participation in (ethnic) associations, citizens´ initiatives, NGOs and trade unions creates social involvement which spills over into political activity and higher political participation. Yet, European countries do not sufficiently take migrants` involvement this into account (Acik-Toprak, 2009). The democratic process to a large extent overlooks those who are not citizens. Even in those countries where migrants can enjoy political rights, they are, generally speaking, less active in political participation than nationals. Low participation and representation of migrants and people of migrant origin must raise questions about the barriers to their more active involvement in the democratic process. People need acceptance, confidence and support in order to become active at different level of civic and political life. Integration of foreigners and people of migrant origin and their inclusion in the democratic process is a shared responsibility that requires national and European efforts and solidarity.
Acik-Toprak, N. (2009). Country context matters: Civic engagement across Europe. Centre for Census and Survey Research: University of Manchester EACEA (2012). Priority themes of the Europe for citizens programme. Available at: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/citizenship/programme/priority_themes_en.php Paral, R. (2010). Benchmarks of immigrants civic engagement. New York: Carnegie Corporation. Reed-Danahay, D. & Brettell, C. (eds) (2008). Citizenship, political engagement, and belonging: Immigrants in Europe and the United States. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
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