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Citizenship education in established democracies is challenged by declining youth participation in democracy. Youth disenchantment and disengagement in democracy is primarily evident in formal political behaviour, especially through voting, declining membership of political parties, assisting at elections, contacting politicians, and the like. If citizenship education is to play a major role in addressing these concerns it will need to review the impact it is making on young people in schools.

 This paper reviews a major national project on youth participation in democracy in Australia set in the context of a national citizenship education programme. The Youth Electoral Study found that citizenship education in Australian schools has at best been marginally successful and substantially more is required to raise levels of democratic engagement. The paper explores many opportunities available to education systems and schools to address these issues through reconceptualising aspects of the formal and the informal curriculum.

Keywords: citizenship education; democracy; formal curriculum; informal curriculum; participation; youth

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8527.2007.00382.x

Affiliations: University of Sydney

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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