Civic, Social and Political Education aims to prepare students for active participatory citizenship. This is achieved through comprehensive exploration of the civic, social and political dimensions of their lives at a time when pupils are developing from dependent children into independent young adults. It should produce knowledgeable pupils who can explore, analyse and evaluate, who are skilled and practised in moral and critical appraisal, and capable of making decisions and judgements through a reflective citizenship, based on human rights and social responsibilities. Such pupils should be better prepared for living in a world where traditional structures and values are being challenged, and where pupils are being confronted with conflicting interests, impermanent structures and constant questioning.
The main purpose of this Junior Certificate course in Civic, Social and Political Education is to provide the pupil with a concentrated and dedicated focus on all aspects of this area of education, with particular emphasis on the importance of active, participatory citizenship to the life of the young person in society. It is envisaged that this course will also provide pupils with a central reference point for those aspects of Civic, Social and Political Education which they learn about through other subject disciplines, and through their daily school-life.
The content of the course will be treated at a level which is appropriate to the age of the pupils, to the range of their ability levels and to a junior cycle course of approximately seventy hours in total. The resource materials and guidelines will indicate that pupils, on completing the course, should be familiar with a range of topics, ideas, concepts, issues etc. and be capable of demonstrating and applying these in the context of their own lives.
Through active exploration and study of citizenship at all levels (personal, local, national, global) in the context of contemporary social and political issues, this course aims to:
- Make pupils aware of the civic, social and political dimensions of their lives and the importance of active, participating citizens to the life of the state and all people
- Encourage and develop the practical skills which enable pupils to engage in active, participatory social interaction, and to adopt responsible roles as individual, family member, citizen, worker, consumer, and member of various communities within a democratic society
- Develop the autonomous potential of pupils as socially literate, independent and self-confident young people
- Encourage pupils to apply positive attitudes, imagination and empathy in learning about, and encountering, other people and cultures
- Enable pupils to develop their critical and moral faculties in agreement with a system of values based in human rights and social responsibilities
- Develop knowledge and understanding of processes taking place at all levels
Objectives are outlined in terms of knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes/values. An appropriate vehicle for the achievement of these objectives within Civic, Social and Political Education is active, participatory class-work where the emphasis is on learning-by-doing. Throughout their work on this course pupils should have practical experience of the types of activity listed below.
- Research / Discovery Activities
- Group work / Discussion Activities
- Simulation Activities
- Action Activities
The central concept of this course in Civic, Social and Political Education is that of:
- Citizenship. The realisation of the civic, social and political dimensions in the life of the individual person through active participation in society. Pupils should come to understand how the seven concepts listed below serve collectively, though not exclusively, to inform and clarify the concept of citizenship.
- DEMOCRACY-Pupils should be aware that through the democratic process, at all levels of society, every individual can exercise power through participation.
- HUMAN DIGNITY-Pupils should be aware of the dignity which every individual should be accorded as a human being, and of how the provision of basic needs (e.g. food, health, security, education) is vital to human dignity.
- INTERDEPENDENCE-Pupils should be aware of the interrelationships of all human life at the individual, community, national and global levels. The actions of an individual can have effects, sometimes in places and situations they have never seen.
- DEVELOPMENT-Development can be defined as a process of improvement (social, economic, cultural, and political) to meet the needs in people's lives at all levels (personal, local, national, international).
- LAW-Pupils should be aware that laws and rules serve important purposes in any community or society, including the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the protection of life and property etc.
- STEWARDSHIP-Pupils should be aware that as individuals born on the planet every person becomes a temporary owner or steward entrusted and empowered with its care and maintenance e.g. with constructive management of its finite resources, appreciation of the cultural diversity of its peoples, etc.
- RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES-Pupils should be aware that every individual is entitled to basic social, cultural, economic, civic, religious and political rights and to the safeguarding and protection of these rights.
CSPE is assessed as part of the mainstream Junior Certificate Examination. Students undertake an action project to be submitted to the State Examinations Commission by April of each year. This action project is worth 60% of the entire examination and action project booklets are completed during class time. Students also sit a written examination during the month of June. This examination is worth the remaining 40% of the CSPE paper and lasts for a duration of ninety minutes.