Home / Blog / 

New Report – Folk High Schools and Active Citizenship in Europe

How can folk high schools and similar adult learning institutions in Europe develop their work on active citizenship and be a resource for democratic development? This question is at the heart of the ERASMUS+ project PROMOCITI.

School leaders from 25 schools in five different countries have answered questions about their understanding of the concept of active citizenship and how they describe their school's work on this issue. The responses have been analyzed and compiled in the report "Folk high schools and Active citizenship" which has just been completed

Link to the report: Folk High Schools and Active Citizenship in Europe

The analysis reveals several common challenges for the participating schools in terms of active citizenship and democratic development.  These include attitudes towards right-wing extremist and anti-democratic movements, the role of schools in working with refugees and migrants, the different types of conspiracy theories that are flourishing, and digital divides. Many also point to a reduced willingness to participate in social contexts as an effect of the pandemic. In several countries, it is also not self-evident that external stakeholders and funders see active citizenship as a key task for schools. As a result, much of the activity is dependent on project funding, which creates volatility and difficulties with continuity.

To try to overcome the difficulties identified, school leaders have formulated ten successful approaches:

1. Identify and serve the needs of citizens

2. Identify your area of activity and engage in networks

3. Let your school be a meeting place

4. Be visible leaders and facilitators for active citizenship

5. The whole school should be on board

6. Let active citizenship permeate all your activities

7. Provide participants with the necessary tools for active citizenship

8. Be good listeners and creative course designers

9. Have steering documents that support your work       

10. Lobby for adult education and active citizenship 

The 25 school portraits in the report present different ways of understanding what active citizenship means in the contexts in which schools exist. There is also a wealth of concrete examples of how schools work to enable the civic engagement of participants and how schools are part of the democratic infrastructure of society.

Together with a transnational group of educators, the lessons learned from this report will be used as a basis for a curriculum on how to work with active citizenship in folk high schools.


The concept of Active Citizenship can be understood in many ways and includes values, knowledge, skills and abilities. One way to understand the concept is that it is based on democratic values and human rights and emphasizes inclusion and participation, whether at the local, regional, national, European or global level. It is about the relationship between individuals and their communities and about the need for citizens to be able to act responsibly to solve common problems, whether it is maintaining the local volunteer fire department or issues such as xenophobia or climate change. All of this happens in folk high schools and rural education centers on a daily basis. PROMOCITI aims to enable systematic recording, professionalization and further development for folk high schools and participants in the five participating countries.

The partners working on PROMOCITI are the association of adult education Federació d'Associacions Culturals i Educatives de Persones Adultes (FACEPA) from Barcelona (Spain), Folk High School Färnebo Folkhögskola from Österfärnebo (Sweden), the folk high school SPES Zukunftsakademie from Schlierbach (Austria) and the three associations of folk high schools from Austria, Poland and Germany, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bildungshäuser Österreich, Ogólnopolska Sieć Uniwersytetów Ludowych and Verband der Bildungszentren im ländlichen Raum.


More information:

ARGE BHÖ's info page on PROMOCITI

Facebook page of PROMOCITI