How Do Teachers Work To Raise Students' Awareness Of Social Justice Through Civic Literacy?

When it comes to educating students about social justice, teachers often employ the use of civic literacy in their students’ learning journey. Education has always sought to find a way to deliver messages to students in a way that will encourage them and educate them so they can participate in society a lot easier. By employing the use of civic literacy, teachers aim to create students who are more aware of social justice issues, get them involved in democracy as well as curating informed members of society (Quigley, 1997).

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Delivering the curriculum in a multitude of different methodologies, as well as educating students of the range of different ways, they can be a productive citizen. Students become aware of social responsibility and awareness can create interest. Education provides knowledge for students to be able to navigate and even advocate in social justice spaces. To test whether teachers were able to raise awareness of social justice through civic literacy is an effective method, a project called Project Citizen was developed by researches and implemented.

Project Citizen Implementation
A study was undertaken with Moroccan students using a successful civic literacy program called Project Citizen, to see whether this was an effective method to raise the level of understanding of Civic Literacy increased and if it impacted their awareness of social justice causes. Project Citizen is an educational program that began in the United States in 1995. Participating in Project Citizen can help train students with a variety of crucial life skills such as citizenship, problem-solving, research, and verbal and written communication (Medina-Jerez, Bryant, & Green, 2010).

Project Citizen was introduced to Moroccan students to see the effect it had on its students. Using a multitude of methods researchers collected, analyzed, and mixed quantitative and qualitative data in a chain of studies (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2007; Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, &Turner, 2007). 

Project Citizen Students’ experience resulted in a shattering of the view on social justice issues in Morocco. Researchers reported that many of the students engaged in Project Citizen and had direct contact with the community, concluded social justice hardly been in Morocco. This is important as it shows how the Project Citizen experiment had an effect on student’s awareness of the social justice issues in their surroundings.

What Can Teachers Take From This?
One thing was found that students that had direct contact with their community were able to assess and become aware of the social justice issues around them which is something teachers can take and use to implement their methodology. By basing methodology and lessons around the Project Citizen model and getting students to understand the definitions of what citizenship is like outlined by Westheimer and Kahne (2004).

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One of these definitions is individually accountable citizenship which pays attention to following guidelines and rules and serving others. As well personally liable, participating citizenship, which needs people to get involved with the democratic method through political events and contribution (e.g., voting) is also a type of citizenship outlined by Westheimer and Kahne (2004), along with the community integrity pattern.

The Social Justice paradigm makes it necessary for citizens to critically assess societal problems to figure out what problems in the community need to be solved. By getting students actively involved in these roles and outlining the best ways they can engage in these, teachers can empower students to become actively involved in social justice.

Civic literacy and empowering students to connect with their surroundings as they did in civic literacy programs like project citizens, create an interest and a connection and this is a great away to get students thinking about the issues that surround them.




Bentahar, A. & O’Brien, J. L. (2019). Raising Students’ Awareness of Social Justice through Civic Literacy. Journal of Social Studies Education Research. Vol. 10. Issue 1.

QUIGLEY, B. A. (1997). Rethinking literacy education: the critical need for practice-based change. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Medina-Jerez, W., Bryant, C., & Green, C. (2010). Project Citizen: Students Practice Democratic Principles While Conducting Community Projects. Science Scope, 33(7).

Westheimer, J. and Kahne, J. (2004). What kind of citizen? The politics of educating for democracy. American Educational Research        Journal, 41 (2).

Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Johnson, R. B., Onwuegbuzie, A., & Turner, L. (2007). Toward a definition of mixed methods research. Journal of mixed methods research, 1.

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