Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 335–354 | Cite as

Equality of Education and Citizenship: Challenges of European Integration

  • Andreas Follesdal


What kind of equality among Europeans does equal citizenship require, especially regarding education? In particular, is there good reason to insist of equality of education among Europeans—and if so, equality of what? To what extent should the same knowledge base and citizenship norms be taught across state borders and religious and other normative divides? At least three philosophical issues merit attention: (a) The requirements of multiple democratic citizenships beyond the nation state; (b) how to respect diversity while securing such equality and inculcating commitments to justice and norms of citizenship, and (c) The multiple reasons for equality of various kinds among political equals living in a Union as compared to a unitary state. The article responds on the basis of several arguments in favour of certain kinds of equality. All Union citizens must enjoy a high minimum level of education, and all pupils must be informed concerning the various ways of life prevalent in Europe. Furthermore, there must be standards for securing equality of opportunity across the EU, though it is difficult to measure under multiculturalism. Citizens must also be socialised to certain ‘citizenship norms’. This shared basis to be taught in schools should avoid contested religious or philosophical premises as far as possible. Yet the school system should socialise pupils to three commitments: to the just domestic and European institutions and hence the legislation they engender, to principles that justify these institutions; and to a political theory that grounds these principles in a conception of the proper role of individuals, of member states and of the Union. I also argue that equality of result is not a plausible normative requirement among Europeans, while equality of opportunity is. The paper concludes with some comments on the lessons to be drawn for ‘Global’ citizenship.


Human rights Education Equality Citizenship European integration Equality of result Equality of opportunity 



I am grateful for comments and suggestions from several people, including Nicholas Burbules, Gjert Langfeldt, Ragnhild Midtbø, Finn Daniel Raaen, Klas Roth, Lise Vislie, and Kamil Øzerk, and comments at the Stockholm Conference of the Association for Teacher Education in Europe. A predecessor of this paper was published as 'Securing equality and citizenship under European Integration.' in Changing Notions of Citizenship Education in Contemporary Nation-states, Nicholas Burbules and Klas Roth, editors. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2007. This presentation also draws on other publications as noted.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Centre for Human RightsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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