Section 1

Exploring good citizenship


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:
  • developed your skills to help you relate pupils’ previous knowledge to new knowledge about citizenship;
  • found different ways to help pupils find out about community responsibilities;
  • organised a school assembly.
Large classes present special problems for teachers – particularly if they are multigrade classes (see Key Resource: Working with large and/or multigrade classes). In this section, we make suggestions about using different types of classroom management for developing pupils’ understanding of citizenship. Just telling pupils about their roles and responsibilities as citizens has much less impact than involving them in active experiences. This section helps you think about different ways to find out what they know and use this to extend their understanding.

Page 1

All citizens, including children, have rights and duties (responsibilities), but these vary from person to person. In order for pupils to understand this, they need to explore what rights and responsibilities mean for them, share their findings with other pupils and consider the differences. To do this, they need to talk either as a whole class or in pairs or groups. Citizenship is a difficult idea for young pupils and they may not understand it at first. It is a good idea, therefore, to relate it to something they know – such as the kinds of tasks that are carried out at home. With older pupils, you will be able to explore the topic more deeply and extend their understanding by thinking about their roles and responsibilities within the wider community.

Case Study 1: Using desk groups to discuss family rights and duties

Mrs Nqwinda is a teacher in Malbena Primary School in Mndantsane in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. She has a Grade 4 class of 62 pupils who sit in groups of five around each desk. It is not easy to move the children or the desks, so she used desk groups to discuss the duties pupils have to carry out at home. She chooses the group work method because she wants to make sure that all the pupils have a chance to share their ideas. As they discuss their duties for ten minutes, she moves around the classroom making sure that no one is dominating the discussion and reminding each group to think about the three duties they are to feed back on. The pupils find this an easy task. As the groups feed back their answers, Mrs Nqwinda writes each new duty on the chalkboard. She is interested to find that most of the girls help their mothers with tasks around the house, like cleaning and cooking and looking after smaller children. Most of the boys help their fathers and uncles with fetching wood and water, and some of them work in the fields and gardens. They have an interesting talk about gender roles in the household. Mrs Nqwinda then asks if they could say what things they were free to do in their family. The pupils find this task more difficult, so she encourages them to discuss in their groups before giving feedback. Mrs Nqwinda writes their answers on the chalkboard and explains that these things they are free to do are their ‘rights’. She checks they understand the difference between duties and rights. See Resource 1: Rights and duties of children for the list of her pupils’ rights and duties in the home.

Activity 1: Pair work to discuss rights and duties in the family

  • Discuss the word ‘duties’ with your class and make sure they understand what it means.
  • Ask the pupils, in pairs, to discuss and list the duties they have to carry out at home.
  • After ten minutes, ask each pair in turn to give a different duty and list these on the chalkboard (many will have the same duties). Make sure they all understand these are their duties. Ask each pupil to record their own list of duties in their book.
  • Next, ask the pairs to discuss the things they are free to do in their homes (such as read books, go to worship, go to school, play inside or outside).
  • List their ideas on the chalkboard and explore their understanding about how these are their ‘rights’.
  • Ask them to list and draw the things they like doing most – duties or rights.
Did you find working in pairs easy to manage? If so, why? If not, why? How would you change this activity to improve it next time? Did the pupils’ knowledge and ideas surprise you?

Page 2

We all live in a group or family, and our family is part of a group, such as a village or a community. Within our community we have rights and duties. This means we must do certain things in the community and the community must do, or provide, certain things for us. Resource 2: Rights of the child will help you prepare for this topic. Pupils need to be able to meet expert people who are willing to talk with them about their ideas on this topic. This will help pupils to understand their responsibilities in the community and motivate them to learn. Before a visitor comes to your classroom, you may need to think about moving the furniture to make the atmosphere more welcoming. This will make the visitor feel comfortable and help the pupils’ learning because they can see and hear better. See Key Resource: Using the local community/environment as a resource for further information.

Case Study 2: Organising the classroom to discuss community responsibilities

Mr Mabikke wanted his 48 Primary 4 pupils to discuss their community responsibilities. He decided that the layout of the classroom was not helpful for group discussion work so he made a plan for a new organisation of the desks. He discussed it with his head teacher, who approved the change. With a fellow teacher to help him, he reorganised the classroom into eight groups, each with three desks arranged to seat six pupils. The next day, the children were excited that the classroom was different. Mr Mabikke explained that the arrangement would mean they could do more group discussion. He asked the pupils to discuss, in their groups, what the community provides for them – the rights of the people living in the community. But first he talked with them about taking turns to speak in their groups and listening to each other with respect. Each group was to make a poster showing the different things the community provides as their rights as members of the community. His pupils knew that they also had duties along with rights so, in their groups, they discussed what their duties in the community were and then they marked these on their poster in a different colour and provided a key. All the posters were displayed on the wall so the groups could see everyone’s ideas before they had a final discussion about which were most important rights and duties.

Activity 2: Using local experts to motivate pupils

  • Discuss with your pupils their duties in the community.
  • Guide their talk towards care for the environment, respecting people and property, taking care of each other. Organise the class into groups and ask the groups to make a poster, write a poem or a story, or draw a picture to show their ideas.
  • Discuss their rights in the community – help them understand they have a right to education, to medical care, to be safe in the streets and their homes, and to speak their opinions.
  • Talk about community leaders and other important people in your community. Make a list of all the people who serve the community.
  • Decide who they would like to visit the school to tell them about their work in the community. It could be a village elder, a community leader, a political leader, a nurse, a librarian, a police officer or a religious leader.
  • See Key Resource: Using the local community/environment as a resource for guidance. Arrange the visit and prepare questions with your class to ask the visitor.
  • After the visit, discuss with the pupils what they found out about the work of the visitor.

Page 3

To qualify as a citizen of any country you have to meet certain criteria. These are usually laid down in the Constitution. Try to get a copy of the Constitution of your country and see what it says. Resource 3: Excerpt from the Constitution lists criteria for qualification as a citizen. One way to explore your pupils’ ideas on citizenship is given in Case Study 3. School assemblies can bring a topic to a close in a way that will motivate your pupils. How to prepare for a school assembly is explored in the Key Activity.

Case Study 3: A visit from the local government chairman to discuss citizenship

Mrs Makoha, from a small rural school in Uganda, invited the Regional District Commissioner (RDC) to visit her Primary 5 class of 56 pupils. The RDC brought with him a photograph of the president, the national flag, coat of arms/national emblem, his identity card and passport. He explained to the children about the importance of these things in being a Ugandan. He explained what the different parts of the flag symbolise. They also sang the national anthem and made a list of all the events where they sing the national anthem. After the visit, Mrs Makoha organised the class in small groups around their desks and asked them to discuss why it is important for them to be a citizen of Uganda. She moved around the class and guided the groups to stay focused on the task and to listen to each other’s ideas. Next, she asked them to work individually and write their own reasons in their books. She collected in their work and was able to assess how much each pupil had learned about citizenship. There were five pupils whose reasons were less well developed and Mrs Makoha discussed the reasons with these pupils during break to assess whether they understood the ideas.

Key Activity: Presenting learning in a school assembly

Ask your head teacher if you can hold a school assembly on ‘Being a good citizen’. Discuss what the content of the assembly might be with your class. Each group prepares their part and the resources needed. You might want to suggest to your pupils that the following need to be included:
  • Who is a citizen?
  • Rights and duties in the home.
  • Rights and duties in the community.
  • Symbols of national identity – flag, anthem, identity card, coat of arms, passport.
  • Why is it important to be a good citizen?
Give groups different tasks and allow them time to prepare their contributions – maybe over several lessons. Make the task clear, so that each pupil produces a piece of work that you can use to assess their learning. Encourage them to write poems or texts for reading, paint flags or find a text they want to read or use. Agree the order for the presentations and rehearse. Present your assembly to the school. Afterwards, discuss with the pupils what worked well and what could have been improved. How well did they think the rest of the school understood about citizenship?

Print section