Pupils and teachers remain to be the group with the most civic potential

  • February 13, 2015
  • News

Civic potential in Lithuanian schools is getting stronger: last year, the civic power of the Lithuanian pupils reached 52,4 points out of 100 (it was by 4,8 points higher than in 2012). Teachers’ civic power remained similar and reached 48,1 points. These results were gotten out of the Civic Empowerment Index survey, which was carried out by the Civil Society Institute already for the seventh time.

The growth of the pupils’ civic power could be linked to some successful initiatives carried out in the previous years that helped them show their potential. “School communities is the most civically active group in the Lithuanian society. Pupils’ civic activeness is a bit lower than the one of the teachers, however, pupils more often than other society groups take part in community activities, express their opinion on the internet and join environment-cleaning activities,- explains dr. Rūta Žiliukaitė, one of the Civil Society Institute’s experts and researchers of the Civic Empowerment Index. – About 30 per cent of the pupils, that is 3 times more compared with the general public, participate in activities of civic organizations.”

According to dr. R. Žiliukaitė, pupils diverge from teachers and other society groups with their youthful optimism and hope. Pupils much more often declare that they would take action when facing some economic, political or local issue. They are also much more believing that ordinary people can influence public decision-making and rarely associate civic activeness with various risks.

Pupils with higher civic power more often claim that they would defend their country if it was necessary. However, civic power does not make a difference when it comes to attitudes towards emigration: 36 per cent of the Lithuanian pupils would like to leave the country and permanently live abroad.

On the contrary to pupils, in 2014, the civic power of the general public has decreased. After a few years of growth, the Civic Empowerment Index reached 36 points in 2013, however, in 2014, it went down to 34 points and was the same as in 2008-2009. This drop can be explained by two main factors: firstly, civic influence perception index has gone down (comparing with 2013, fewer respondents thought that them or other ordinary people could have influence on public decision-making) and second, more people claimed that being civically active could be risky (more people thought that after initiating some civic activity or taking part in it they could lose their jobs, be considered as weirdos, receive threats etc.). “While young people are still at schools, the situation does not seem so bad. But when they leave schools and start working, the perception of civic influence and civic activeness drops,- the problem was named by dr. R. Žiliukaitė. – For people who are civically active, it is difficult in our society, the social environment is not very friendly.”

According to experts, in the Lithuanian society there is a small group of activists who are always ready to take action. However, it is very important to make this group wider and in this way to make the Lithuanian civic power grow. This could be done by spreading positive experience, making successful civic activity examples public and creating environment, which is more friendly to civic activeness. Some widely-known civic initiatives had a significant impact on the Lithuanian civic power: for example, environment-cleaning activities “Darom”, donating initiatives, the referendum (that was initiated by the citizens themselves) on land-selling to foreigners etc.

The most popular civic activities in 2014 remained the same: donating to charity (56 per cent), taking part in environment-cleaning activities (50 per cent), participating in local community activities (33 per cent). However, about 25 per cent of the general public did not participate in any of the 17 suggested activities. According to the survey of 2014, higher civic power is specific to pupils, students, self-employed, respondents with higher education and higher income, living in big cities.

One of the positive trends in the 2014 data is higher civic potential: more people than in 2013 would take action facing an economic or local issue. Last year it was also asked if citizens would take action if another country used military power against Lithuania. Turns out that more than a half (52 per cent) of Lithuanians would take the lead or join others in defending the country.

Civic Empowerment Index has been measured since 2007, using methodology developed by scientists prof. dr. Ainė Ramonaitė, dr. Rūta Žiliukaitė and dr. Mindaugas Degutis. In 2014, the survey was carried out as a part of the civic education project “Creating Republic: fostering competences of the society’s civic activeness”.

More about the Civic Empowerment Index.