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I want my students to be active citizens and learn about the EU. What resources are there for teachers?

Ask Brian: Knowledge about the EU tends to be an elusive hobby rather a core part of our schools’ academic programmes

I am a post-primary CSPE (civics, social and political education) teacher and acutely aware that many of my students have little understanding about the European Union and how it affects their lives. At a time of so much disinformation, I think it’s important that they leave schools as informed citizens. Are there EU programmes you recommend to help students learn more?

Ireland will mark 50 years of EU membership on January 1st, 2023. There is little doubt that Ireland has benefited hugely both socially and economically over the period. Irish has now become an official EU language, opening up opportunities for employment for those proficient in Gaeilge.

There is a risk that we take for granted the freedoms and benefits, accrued over time, consequential to our EU membership. Understanding the EU may be considered by those devising curricula more of an elusive hobby than a core part of our school’s academic programmes. Yet, Eurobarometer surveys confirm an appetite among our youth to acquire facts and knowledge about the EU.

Addressing this void should encourage Ireland’s school-going children to formulate opinions based solely on facts and knowledge, instead of misinformation and fake news, as happened over many years in the UK, leading eventually to Brexit, and all that followed.


If you have an idea for your students and feel that you could present a project which matches the criteria, you need to apply through the e-grant system

One way of supporting your students in this way is introducing them to Learning EU initiatives, an Erasmus+ initiative funded by the European Commission. This enables schools – at primary, second level and further education to apply for funding to teach about the EU in their classrooms. Potential activities include project weeks, study visits, and other immersive activities.

Schools can design and deliver content on EU issues and create learning experiences themselves or with the support of higher education institutions or non-governmental organisations. The aim is to “boost learning about the European Union in ways that inspire” and “help students to strengthen their sense of belonging to the EU”. Grants of up to €30,000 over a three-year period are available.

Conditions for eligibility can be found in the Erasmus+ Programme Guide along with all details of the programme. Follow the link in the online version of this article or, if in print, try searching “Jean Monnet Learning EU initiatives” online.

The programme guide for 2023 has full details and criteria. This year the updated version has just been published with a deadline of February 14th, 2023 for submission. Results are announced during the summer, with roll-out normally in the following school year.

If you have an idea for your students and feel that you could present a project which matches the criteria, you need to apply through the e-grant system. Begin the application process well in advance of the deadline, checking that your school has a registration number known as a “Pic no”. If you’re confused, there’s a video guide on the e-grant process on

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