7 junio, 2024

Civic competences: definition, types and examples

The citizen competences They are the set of knowledge and cognitive, emotional and communication skills that allow men and women, whether adults or minors, to actively participate in the development of a democratic society. These capacities can be developed in formal educational centers, although they are not the only instance where citizen training can and should be carried out.

For the acquisition of such skills, the role played by, for example, the family or other sectors of society such as residents’ associations, sports and cultural groups, cooperatives and the media, among others, is important.

However, schools and colleges play an irreplaceable role due to the long time that children and young people spend there from an early age. In these centers, a simulation of the situations that are experienced in the rest of society is carried out, where the robustness of the educational programs and the quality of the teachers are essential.

Broadly speaking, according to the Ministry of National Education of Colombia, with training in citizen skills, students are offered the necessary tools to relate to other human beings in an increasingly comprehensive and fair way. In this sense, it is sought that children are able to solve problems that arise in society on a daily basis.

Citizenship competencies allow each person to contribute to peaceful coexistence, participate actively and responsibly in democratic processes, and value plurality and differences both in their immediate surroundings and in their community.

Regarding history, the concern for issues related to citizen competencies has been going on for many years. The first antecedents go back to the times in which the human being began to live in increasingly complex societies that forced him to form.

Already in the ancient world there are testimonies of these concerns, such as that of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle, who assured that the citizens of a State must be educated in accordance with the constitution.

In his opinion, the common things of a society should be the object of a shared exercise: «Citizens should not be thought to belong to themselves, but rather all to the city, since each citizen is a part of the city, and the care of each part is oriented, naturally, to the care of the whole”.


Types and examples of citizenship competencies

In relation to the above, the Colombian educational authorities have established three large groups of citizen competencies that represent a fundamental dimension for the exercise of the rights and duties of citizens:

1- Coexistence and peace

They are those that emphasize the consideration of others and, especially, the consideration of each person as a human being. For first to third years of schooling, they would apply to:

I am aware that boys and girls have the right to receive good treatment, love and care. (Knowledge competence).
I identify the basic emotions (happiness, anger, sadness, fear) both in myself and in other people. (Emotional competence).
I make my feelings and emotions known through different forms and languages, such as gestures, words, drawings, theatrical performances, games, etc.). (Emotional and communication skills).

From fourth to fifth grade of school:

I apologize to those who I have been able to affect and I can forgive when they offend me. (Integrative competition).
I express my positions and listen to those of others, in conflict situations. (Communication competence).
I collaborate in the care of animals, plants and the environment in my immediate surroundings. (Integrative competition).

From sixth to seventh grade, citizenship competencies are reflected in:

I propose myself as a mediator in conflicts between classmates and schoolmates, when they authorize me, promoting dialogue. (Integrative competition).
I understand the importance of sexual and reproductive rights and analyze their implications in my own case. (Knowledge and integration skills).
I warn about the risks of ignoring traffic signs, driving at high speed or having consumed alcohol and carrying weapons. I am aware of what measures to take to act responsibly if I witness or am involved in an accident. (Integrative competition).

And from eighth to ninth grade, you can learn how to:

I am aware of possible dilemmas that I may face in which different rights or different values ​​come into conflict. I analyze possible solution options, considering the positive and negative aspects of each one. (Cognitive competence).
I understand that conflicts can arise in different types of relationships, including couples, and that it is possible to handle them constructively using the listening tool and understanding the other side’s points of view.. (Cognitive and communicative skills).
Use of constructive tools to channel my anger and face conflicts. (Emotional competencies).

2- Participation and democratic responsibility

They refer to those competences oriented towards decision-making in different contexts. At the same time, they take into consideration that such decisions must respect both the fundamental rights of individuals, as well as the agreements, norms, laws and the Constitution that govern the life of a community. In practical cases they would be:

I express my ideas, feelings and interests in the school and I listen with respect to those of the other members of the group. (Emotional and communication skills).
I make my point of view known when group decisions are made in the family, among friends and at school. (Communication competence).
I proactively help achieve common goals in the classroom and recognize the importance of standards in achieving those goals. (Integrative competition).
I am up to date and know how to make use of the student participation mechanisms at my school. (Knowledge and integration skills).
I propose different and alternative options when we make decisions in the classroom and in family life. (Communication competence).
I identify and adequately manage my emotions, such as fear of the unknown, fear of participating or anger, during group discussions. (Emotional competence).
I am informed about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its relationship with the fundamental rights enunciated in the Constitution. (Knowledge competence).
I demand that my authorities, my colleagues and myself, comply with the rules and agreements. (Integrative competition).
I use my freedom of expression and listen with respect to the opinions of others. (Communication and integration skills).

3- Plurality, identity and valuation of differences

They are characterized by the recognition and enjoyment of differences, just like human diversity. They are limited by the rights of others. For example:

I identify and respect the existence of groups with diverse characteristics of age, ethnicity, gender, occupation, place, socioeconomic situation, etc. (Knowledge and cognitive skills).
I realize the occasions when, together with my friends or by myself, we have made someone feel bad, excluding them, making fun of them or giving them offensive nicknames. (Cognitive skills).
I realize and value the similarities and differences of the people around me. (Emotional and communication skills).
I can be aware of some forms of discrimination in my school or in my community (by ethnicity, culture, gender, religion, age, economic or social aspects, individual abilities or limitations) and I help with decisions, activities, rules or agreements to avoid them. (Cognitive and integrative competences).
I express my solidarity and empathy in relation to people who are excluded or discriminated against. (Emotional competencies).
I accept that all boys and girls are people with the same value and the same rights. (Knowledge competence).
I understand and respect that there are many ways to express identities, such as physical appearance, artistic and verbal expression, etc. (Communication competence).
I am able to realize that when people are discriminated against, their self-esteem and their relationships with the environment are often affected. (Cognitive skills).
I critically evaluate my thoughts and actions when I am being discriminated against and I can establish whether I am helping or hindering that situation with my actions or omissions. (Cognitive competence).

Types of citizenship competencies according to the Ministry of National Education of Colombia

Additionally, the Ministry of National Education classifies citizenship competencies into five types:


It has to do with the information that children and young people should know and understand in relation to the exercise of citizenship.

Cognitive skills

It concerns the ability to carry out various mental processes, fundamental in the exercise of citizenship, such as the ability to put oneself in the place of another, the levels of critical analysis and reflection, as well as the identification of the consequences of one’s own acts and decisions.

emotional competencies

They are related to the skills necessary to identify and respond constructively to the personal emotions we have and those of others, such as empathizing with our interlocutors or those around us.

Communication skills

It is about developing capacities to listen carefully to the arguments of others and process them properly even if they are not shared, as well as building capacities to express ourselves adequately without attacking or overwhelming.

Integrating skills

They articulate the above competencies to deal holistically with problems that may arise through the use of knowledge, creative generation of new ideas, as well as emotional and communication skills.


Basic standards of citizenship skills. Training for citizenship. Yes, it is possible! Guides Series No.6. Ministry of National Education. mineducacion.gov.co. Retrieved on 02/28/2017
Guidelines for the institutionalization of citizen competencies. Primer 1. Ministry of National Education .mineducacion.gov.co. Retrieved on 02/28/2017
Citizen competences. Presentation of the Ministry of National Education. en.slideshare.net. Retrieved on 02/28/2017.
The formation of civic competences. Presentation of the Ministry of National Education es.slideshare.net. Retrieved on 02/28/2017
What are citizen competencies? CHAUX, Enrique. Weekly magazine. colombiaaprende.edu.co. Retrieved on 02/28/2017.

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