What is Concentus?
The declared purpose of the Concentus Citizenship Education Foundation is to:
Educate and empower individuals to understand their rights
Encourage responsible, respectful and participatory citizenship
Promote a commitment to justice in a pluralistic society.
Concentus was incorporated as a Saskatchewan non-profit corporation on March 20, 2012, and continued as a federal not-for-profit corporation on November 23, 2016. Concentus is a registered charitable organization as recognized by Canada Revenue Agency as of February 21, 2017 (#8093 03332 RR0001).
The Concentus Citizenship Education Foundation was incorporated as part of the Citizenship Education Project (the “CEP”), an initiative of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (“SHRC”) and the Government of Saskatchewan in 2012. The SHRC initiated the CEP following their identification of three serious societal-concerns facing democracies worldwide. The three concerns which are apparent in Canada and beyond include:
1. Citizen’s ignorance of civic knowledge and processes;
2. The rise in citizen alienation from politics and civil society; and
3. A prevalence of agnosticism towards the values of democracy and democratic citizenship.
Research shows that Canadian citizens are becoming increasingly detached, misinformed and/or uniformed, and disenchanted by the political and social institutions that govern them. This is illustrated by the steady decline in voter turnout, especially amongst youths and the rise in political and social extremism, including the rise in violent forms of political activism. National and international research explains that if these forms of citizen-disengagement continue, the world will see a decline in democracy and a derogation of the values and principles associated with democracy.
A meaningful solution to address these concerns and the threat it poses to democracy is broad-based Citizenship Education. National and international researchers have identified education, and specifically citizenship education, as a powerful tool to cure the overt disengagement of the electorate and strengthen the positive values associated with democracy such as protecting and affirming the rights of the individual, respecting the inherent dignity of all persons and cultivating a civil and prosperous society.
The Responsibility Revolution
In response to the devastations of the first half of the twentieth century, the world initiated the “Rights Revolution.” Following the atrocities of the Second World War, the world collectively turned its mind to codifying the rights of citizens in order to protect and promote human rights. This was evidenced through the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In most democracies, the societal push for the codification and protection of individual rights was championed by citizens, and with the help of the judiciary, the rights of the individual became enshrined and understood throughout their civil societies. This is regarded as the “Rights Revolution”.
In the twenty-first century, we must continue the promotion and protection of human rights and democratic values that were born from the Rights Revolution. The complexities of the world today requires a successive citizen-based revolution. Concentus labels this critical phase in world-history the “Responsibility Revolution.”
For people to become the best citizen they can be, they must understand the importance of protecting and affirming individual rights, and must also understand the responsibilities associated with these rights. Leading research indicates that impactful Citizenship Education must focus on more than just explaining and promoting citizen’s “rights”. It must emphasize the action elements of citizenship – i.e. performing our “responsibilities” and demonstrating “respect.”
In order to preserve and advance the fundamental values, institutions and rights associated with a functional democracy, we need to create a citizen-to-citizen responsibility movement founded upon equal moral consideration for every human being. The best vehicle in which to support and facilitate the Responsibility Revolution is the education system as the concept of “responsibility” is a human construct, not a legal construct. The education system is the most meaningful way to empower youth to be active, engaged and critical citizens dedicated to preserving and advancing the ideals associated with Canada’s democratic society. Concentus seeks to empower youth by providing the fundamental tools to enable them to champion the Responsibility Revolution and ensure the continuation of the democratic values and principles Canadians and citizens all over the world cherish.
Concentus has identified Canada, and specifically Saskatchewan, as the jurisdiction to launch its Citizenship Education Program. Canada is recognized in the world today as an exception to the chaotic global political order. The Aga Khan IV, the Spiritual Leader of the Shia Imami Ismali Muslims, described Canada as “the most successful experiment in pluralism the world has ever seen.” But the reality is, there is an eminent fragility attached to this observation. The experiment that is Canada’s democratic society, only works effectively when everyone respects, understands and is committed to a shared sense of belonging and harmony.
Saskatchewan classrooms represent a microcosm of citizenship, which reflects the changing demographics of the province, Canada, and the world. Saskatchewan schools provide a unique opportunity to implement, explore and utilize the Concentus citizenship education resources in a meaningful way. The goal is that the Saskatchewan schools will act as a model and serve as the template for the other Canadian Provincial school systems, as well as for education systems throughout the world, to implement the Citizenship Education Program resources.