Citizenship Education Within a Right to Education Framework: the Cases of Northern Ireland and Israel

Helen Hanna


It is often suggested that education in ethnically, religiously or socio-politically divided societies can play a role in addressing division (Gallagher, 2004). However, education may also be considered inherently political insofar as it is ‘the means and the message by which worldviews are transmitted [and] cultures are reproduced (Randall, Cooper & Hite, 1999, p. 10). Such a value-laden approach when applied to citizenship education is controversial in the divided societies of Northern Ireland and Israel, where conceptions of citizenship vary. Could the purportedly universal nature of international educational rights obligations offer a fresh, unifying perspective and an alternative way of delivering the curriculum? Or does the considerable scope for interpretation left to states lead to these obligations acquiring different meanings among citizenship education stakeholders? The international obligations that education be ‘acceptable’ and ‘adaptable’ constitute the conceptual framework for this doctoral research. The study employs a qualitative and comparative research approach through interviews and focus groups with policy-makers, teachers and students of citizenship education in order to explore the influence of these ‘2 A’s’ on policy development and pedagogy, and their varying interpretations, to date undocumented. This research note focuses on the relevant background information and conceptual framework of the study.


citizenship education, education rights, Northern Ireland, Israel, acceptable, adaptable.

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