What is Citizenship?
When a person has citizenship of a particular country they have certain rights in that country. For example, a citizen of a caribbean country has the right to vote, get a passport and run for public office.
Citizenship is about taking an active part in society. It is about how we live together in our communities and about how we ‘get on' locally, nationally and globally. It is about ensuring that everyone has the knowledge and skills to understand, engage with and challenge the main pillars of our democratic society - politics, the economy and the law.
is therefore about being a member of a community, and making a good
contribution to that community. We are all members of many
different communities: our family; our school; our local
area; our village, town or city; our country; our world.
It is important to understand and act in a responsibile
way in each of these communities.
Why is citizenship important?
The values of democracy, justice, equality and inclusion have been long fought for but are easily neglected and abused. This is especially true when faith in politics is low and economic times are tough.
The best way to guard these values is to develop well-informed, educated citizens with the confidence and appetite to take part in society; to question injustice and to drive change.
The best way to guarantee a brighter future for all is to create a society in which we all understand our rights and responsibilities and in which everyone is equipped, and ready, to play an active part.
citizenship means becoming a productive, responsible, caring
and contributing member of society. It includes:
successful in school;
social and personal skills, such as reflective problem
solving, accepting a variety of perspectives, and setting
and attaining goals; and
a core set of common values.
Characteristics of Citizens
The defining characteristics of citizen competency and responsibility include:
- Civic and Political Knowledge:
Information about our history and government; basic understanding of democracy and democratic principles; information and resources for electoral participation; and the understanding of institutions and important current events.
- Civic and Political Skills:
Skills necessary to participate in civic and political life including speaking and writing, critical thinking, an ability to listen to other perspectives, a sense of social capital and a comfort with the give-and-take process of consensus-building in a democracy.
- Civic Attitudes:
Respect for diverse viewpoints; belief in the importance of participation in political processes and civic life; understanding of the common good; sense of social and civic efficacy; appreciation of participation in public and civic life; an interest in politics with an intention to vote; and an openness to political persuasion.
- Political Participation:
Engagement in traditionally political activities such as voting, attending public meetings, education and advocacy on public issues and voicing opinions through letters to elected officials or the media.
- Community Participation:
Active participation in voluntary organizations such as church, neighborhood associations, youth groups, etc.
- Civic Commitments:
A sense of personal responsibility in society; a willingness to participate in mutual endeavors and to address common needs; and a commitment to making change to promote or maintain equity and fairness.
Profile of the Twenty-First Century Caribbean Citizen
Caribbean should be seen as that part of the world where
the population enjoys a good quality of life with the basic
needs of food, clothing, shelter, health care and employment
being all virtually satisfied. The environment should be
one which provides clean air and water, unpolluted seas
and healthy communities - an environment that has not been
destroyed by the development process.
Ideal Caribbean Person should be someone who among other
imbued with a respect for human life since it is the
foundation on which all the other desired values must
emotionally secure with a high level of self confidence
and self esteem;
sees ethnic, religious and other diversity as a source
of potential strength and richness;
aware of the importance of living in harmony with the
a strong appreciation of family and kinship values,
community cohesion, and moral issues including responsibility
for and accountability to self and community;
an informed respect for the cultural heritage;
multiple literacies independent and critical thinking,
questions the beliefs and practices of past and present
and brings this to bear on the innovative application
of science and technology to problems solving;
a positive work ethic;
and displays the creative imagination in its various
manifestations and nurture its development in the economic
and entrepreneurial spheres in all other areas of life;
developed the capacity to create and take advantage
of opportunities to control, improve, maintain and promote
physical, mental, social and spiritual well being and
to contribute to the health and welfare of the community
in him/herself and in others, the fullest development
of each person's potential without gender stereotyping
and embraces differences and similarities between females
and males as a source of mutual strength.
Rights and Responsibilites of Citizens
a democratic society, individuals and groups are free to
decide their own actions. These decisions to act may either
help or hurt the communities in which they live. An important
part of being a citizen in any community is understanding
that you have rights and responsibilities. These are often
supported by "rules" about the way people should
Rights - things that we are entitled to (this is how people should
be treated), for example we have a right to our nationality.
Responsibilities - things we have a duty to do (this is how we should treat
others), for example we have a responsibility to protect
the world's environment.
Rules - most communities have rules about the way people should
behave. Rules affecting families may be formal, for example
the law about attending school. At other times they can
be informal, for example your family may have its own rules
about who tidies up different parts of the house.
Political Rights and Responsibilities of a Citizen
is generally understood that citizens have certain
rights such as:
- the right to vote in elections;
- the right to join a political party;
- the right to take part in public meetings;
- the right to voice a political opinion;
- the right to join a union;
- the right to join an action group;
- freedom of speech;
- freedom of the press, and
- freedom of religion.
Responsibilities of a Citizen
are some examples:
- enrol on the electoral register;
- vote carefully and sensibly;
- keep well-informed;
- obey the laws of the land;
- serve on a jury, if asked;
- pay taxes;
- defend the country if necessary, and
- be active in community life.
citizens can be counted on to consistently demonstrate in
everyday life honesty, respect, courage, and other core
citizenship values. Children who grow up to be productive
and contributing citizens are much more than academically
successful. The world of work requires individuals who are
capable of managing their own health and well being, and
who have the skills necessary for problem solving, self
direction, self motivation, self reflection, and life-long
the five themes of citizenship - honesty, compassion, respect,
responsibility, and courage - is not enough. Exploring those
themes, talking about them, and making connections between
those themes and your students' lives are the keys to developing
a true understanding of the concepts.
first let's have a few words about each of the themes:
- Honesty is the basic theme of good citizenship. A
person must be honest with others, and with himself
or herself, in order to be a good citizen.
- Compassion is the emotion of caring for people and for
other living things. Compassion gives a person an emotional
bond with his or her world.
- Respect is similar to compassion but different in
some ways. An important aspect of respect is self- respect, whereas compassion is directed toward
others. Respect is also directed toward inanimate things
or ideas as well as toward people. For example, people
should have respect for laws. Finally, respect includes
the idea of esteem or admiration, whereas compassion
is a feeling people can have for others they don't necessarily
of honesty, compassion, and respect comes Responsibility , which includes both private, personal responsibility
and public responsibility. Individuals and groups have
responsibilities. Responsibility is about action, and it includes much of what people think of as
good citizenship. You may wish to point out that one
of the main responsibilities of students is to learn. They must educate themselves so that they can
live up to their full potential.
the theme of Courage is important
to good citizenship. Human beings are capable of moving
beyond mere goodness toward greatness. Courage enables
people to do the right thing even when it's unpopular,
difficult, or dangerous. Many people - including Thomas
Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, Errol Barrow
and Eric Williams - have had the courage to change the
rules to achieve justice.
age of criminal responsibility means the age at which a
person can be prosecuted for a crime. It should be the age
at which they understand the consequences of a crime and
take full responsibility for that crime.
what age do you think a child or young person is old enough
to stand trial?
age of criminal responsibility varies from country to country. The
table below shows the age within some Caribbean countries.
of criminal responsibility
Kitts and Nevis
Vincent and the Grenadines
The institution of the ombudsman, first created in Sweden more than 200 years ago, is designed to provide protection for the individual where there is a substantial imbalance of power.
Initially, this imbalance was between the citizen and the state but as the institution has developed, it has embraced other sectors. Ombudsmen now exist, not just in the public sector, but also covering the private and independent sectors.
As well as considering complaints about public services, Ombudsman Association member schemes consider disputes between consumers and companies or between universities and students, for example.
However, in the private sector, coverage is fragmented and sparse with, in a very few cases, some duplication (where the ‘industry member’ can choose which scheme to belong to). None of this is ideal, but will require legislation to improve the situation as few sectors now readily establish schemes voluntarily.
What ombudsmen do
The Ombudsman’s office has four principal functions. The office:
- Receives, investigates and resolves complaints about the administrative decision making and practices of the public sector, local government and universities.
- Improves public administration for the benefit of all Western Australians through own motion investigations and education and liaison programs with agencies.
- Reviews certain child deaths and family and domestic violence fatalities.
- Undertakes a range of additional functions that fit within the broad category of integrity oversight, including inspections of telecommunications intercepts and investigation of public interest disclosures.
The Ombudsman always observes an independent and impartial approach to the conduct of investigations as well as observing procedural fairness at all times. Information obtained by the Ombudsman in an investigation is confidential. At the conclusion of an investigation, the Ombudsman may make formal recommendations, including to:
- refer the matter to another agency;
- rectify administrative actions;
- vary administrative practice;
- reconsider the law which underpins administrative action; or
- give reasons for a decision.
The Ombudsman places a strong emphasis on making practical recommendations about significant matters. The Ombudsman does not make recommendations unless it is considered that they will be beneficial to the public. The Ombudsman also considers the costs recommendations will have for agencies.
In the private sector, ombudsmen usually have the power to make recommendations which are binding on the bodies in their jurisdiction unless successfully challenged through the courts. The cost of their services is normally met by a charge to the bodies in their jurisdiction. Most are established by, or as a result of, statute, and the relevant industry or sector is obliged to participate in the scheme.