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5 October, 2007

Citizenship Review should 'look at the bigger picture'

The Citizenship Foundation has welcomed the formal review of Citizenship issues to be launched today by Lord Goldsmith, particulary the focus it brings to better citizenship education and the role that effective citizenship can play in developing stronger communities. But Chief Executive Tony Breslin urges the review to look at the bigger picture.

“At the Citizenship Foundation we believe that we need to bring a rich and deep definition to citizenship, not simply a narrow, legal one," said Mr Breslin. "We need to look at the bigger picture of what it means to be a citizen, actively engaged in society and in our community.

“While we don’t take a position on Citizenship ceremonies, there is evidence that those taking part find them rewarding and enjoyable. But, the ceremony should be understood as a marker on the journey rather than as an end in itself. As with a wedding, it is what follows the big day that matters.

“And for people to be effective citizens, able to impact positively on the world around them, we need high quality Citizenship education provision, not just for newcomers and school students, but accessible by all.

"Individuals and communities need to have the legal and political literacy to engage in society: how to get your child into school, how to set up a community group in your area, how to exercise your employment rights and how to impact on the political process.

"Currently, many of those who need this political and legal literacy most are the least likely to receive it. We are interested in addressing this imbalance and we urge Lord Goldsmith’s review to take the same focus.”

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