Citizenship and Democracy in School during COVID-19: Educational Materials

While the COVID-19 Pandemic has affected many fields, education remains among those most severely impacted. According to UNESCO, approximately 1.5 billion students in over 174 countries have been prevented from attending school due to closures. Beyond the immediate consequences that the pandemic has had on learning processes, prolonged confinement and the loss of students’ school routines have also had a distinctly negative effect on the emotional wellbeing of the younger generation.

As an organization that works in the field of mass atrocity prevention, the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) is acutely aware of the challenges created by the pandemic, especially those that relate to increased social tensions. Around the world, societies are seeing an increase of discriminatory behaviors, threats to protected human rights, and challenges to democratic governance. These are topics that are especially relevant within the context of the Citizenship and Democracy in School project, which the Auschwitz Institute has been implementing in Brazil since 2018.

In response to the current situation, the Educational Policies Program (EPP) of the Auschwitz Institute has prioritized the creation of tools to help teachers have effective discussions with their students about the current moment in a responsible and caring manner. In line with the topics that are part of the Citizenship and Democracy in School project curricula, AIPG has created 6 new Portuguese-language activities to facilitate these classroom discussions.

The themes covered in these new materials include: self-knowledge and self-care during the pandemic; the consequences of the pandemic on stereotypes and prejudice; the impact of COVID-19 on human rights; the spread of fake news related to COVID-19; COVID-19’s effect on the environment, and finally, the value of solidarity in difficult times. The importance of these topics was solidified by the results of a questionnaire developed by the Auschwitz Institute for educators who participated in a series of EPP webinars in April and May.

To further assist these teachers in their work, the 6 new EPP activities have been crafted with versatility in mind. The guiding resources for each can be used as a digital online resource, as well as an offline one by printing and distributing the materials to students who may lack consistent internet access. These Portuguese-language materials can be accessed here.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact AIPG’s EPP at education.program@auschwitzinstitute.org.