Citizen Competences: Definition, Types and Examples to Apply

The Civic competences Are the set of cognitive, emotional and communicative knowledge and skills that allow men and women, whether adults or minors, to participate actively in the development of a democratic society.

These capacities can be developed in formal educational centers although they are not the only instance where citizenship training can and should be done.

Civic competences

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

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

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

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

Concerning history, the concern for issues related to citizens' competences has been around for many years. The earliest antecedents go back to the times when 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 asserted that the citizens of a State must be educated according to the constitution.

In his view, the common things of a society should be the object of a shared exercise:"It should not be thought that the citizens belong to themselves, but all to the city, since each citizen is a part of the city, and care Of each part is oriented, naturally, to the care of everything".

Types and examples of citizens' competences

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

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 schooling would apply to:

  • I am aware that children have the right to good treatment, love and care. (Competence of knowledge).
  • I identify the basic emotions (joy, anger, sadness, fear) in myself as 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 communicative competences).

From fourth to fifth grade:

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

From sixth to seventh grade, citizens' competencies are reflected in:

  • I propose as a mediator in conflicts between classmates and colleagues, when they authorize me, fomenting dialogue. (Integrative competence).
  • I understand the importance of sexual and reproductive rights and analyze their implications in my own case. (Knowledge and integrative competences).
  • I warn of the risks of ignoring traffic signals, driving at high speed, or having consumed alcohol and carry weapons. I am aware of what steps to take to act responsibly if I witness or am involved in an accident. (Integrative competence).

And from eighth to ninth grade of schooling can be learned how:

  • I am aware of any dilemmas I may face in which different rights or different values ​​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 those of a partner, and that it is possible to handle them in a constructive way using the listening tool and understanding the other side's points of view . (Cognitive and communicative competences).
  • Use of constructive tools to channel my anger and face conflicts. (Emotional competences).

2- Participation and democratic accountability

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

  • I manifest my ideas, feelings and interests in school and listen with respect to those of the other members of the group. (Emotional and communicative competences).
  • I make my point of view known when making group decisions in the family, among friends and in school. (Communicative competence).
  • I proactively help achieve common goals in the classroom and recognize the importance of standards to achieve those goals. (Integrative competence).
  • I am aware and know how to make use of the mechanisms of student participation of my school. (Knowledge and integrative competences).
  • I propose different and alternative choices when making decisions in the classroom and in family life. (Communicative competence).
  • I properly identify and manage my emotions, such as fear of the unknown, fear of involvement or anger, during group discussions. (Emotional competence).
  • I am informed about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its relation to the fundamental rights set forth in the Constitution. (Competence of knowledge).
  • I demand that my authorities, my colleagues and myself, comply with the rules and agreements. (Integrative competence).
  • I use my freedom of expression and listen with respect to the opinions of others. (Communicative and integrative competences).

3- Plurality, identity and valuation of differences

They are characterized by the recognition and enjoyment of differences, as well as human diversity. They have as limit the rights of the others. For example:

  • I identify and respect the existence of groups with different ethnical characteristics, ethnicity, gender, trade, place, socio-economic situation, etc. (Knowledge and cognitive competences).
  • I realize the occasions when, together with my friends or myself, we have made someone feel bad, excluding him, making fun of us or putting offensive nicknames. (Cognitive competences).
  • I realize and value the similarities and differences of the people around me. (Emotional and communicative competences).
  • I may be aware of some forms of discrimination in my school or community (ethnicity, culture, gender, religion, age, economic or social aspects, individual abilities or limitations) and help with decisions, activities, rules or agreements to avoid them. (Cognitive and integrative competences).
  • I sympathize and express empathy in relation to excluded or discriminated people. (Emotional competences).
  • I accept that all boys and girls are people with the same value and the same rights. (Competence of knowledge) .
  • I understand and respect that there are many ways of expressing identities, such as physical appearance, artistic and verbal expression, etc. (Communicative 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 competences).
  • I critically evaluate my thoughts and actions when I am being discriminated against and can establish if I am favoring or hindering that situation with my actions or omissions. (Cognitive competence).

In addition, the Ministry of National Education classifies citizen competencies into five types:

1-Knowledge: Has to do with the information that children and young people should know and understand in relation to the exercise of citizenship.

2-Cognitive competences: It is the capacity to perform various mental processes, fundamental in the exercise of citizenship, such as the capacity to place oneself in the other's place, levels of critical analysis and reflection, as well as the identification of the consequences of the own acts and decisions.

3-Emotional competences: Are related to the skills needed to constructively identify and respond to the personal emotions we have and those of others, such as having empathy with our interlocutors or those around us.

4-The communicative competences: It is about developing capacities to listen carefully to the arguments of others and to process them properly even if they are not shared, as well as to build capacities to express ourselves adequately without attacking or overpowering.

5-Integrative competencies: Articulate the previous competences to face in a holistic way the problems that can be presented through the use of knowledge, creative generation of new ideas, as well as emotional and communication skills.


  1. Basic standards of citizenship competences.Forming for citizenship Yes it is possible! Series Guides No. 6. Ministry of National Education. Recovered on 02/28/2017
  2. Guidelines for the institutionalization of citizens' competences. Booklet 1. Ministry of National Recovered on 02/28/2017
  3. Citizen competences. Presentation of the Ministry of National Education. Retrieved 02/28/2017.
  4. The formation of citizen competences. Presentation of the Ministry of National Education Recovered on 02/28/2017
  5. What are citizen competitions? CHAUX, Enrique. Weekly magazine. Retrieved 02/28/2017.

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