Andrei Suslov, Director at the Centre for Civic Education and Human Rights (Perm, Russia), issued an opinion on the role of the citizenship education nowadays. Please note that the contents of this opinion are sole responsibility of the author and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum as a whole:
The escalation of international tensions caused by the annexation of Crimea and military operations in the South-East of Ukraine entails a number of negative consequences. These include the growth of nationalism and xenophobia, spread of violence, weakening of critical perception of information (partly under the influence of the state propaganda), etc. First of all, it concerns Russia and Ukraine. However, in one way or other, these consequences affect other European countries as well.
This situation is a serious challenge for citizenship education, especially under the circumstances, when the possibilities of countering such sentiments are extremely limited. In this context, the development of citizenship education can be related to emphasis on the values of humanism and human rights, formation of tolerance, critical thinking, culture of dialogue, and further aspects. On the other hand, we can and should use the resources of non-state communication between people much more than it is the case now. The broader the segment of the society is included in the dialogue on sensitive issues, the more opportunities for further decrease of confrontation we will gain.
Of course, the mere citizenship education will not solve the problem alone. However, if no efforts in this area are made, it will be impossible to overcome the existing mutual distrust and aggression, even if authorities suddenly decide to head towards de-escalation.