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Citizen Competencies and Construction of Youthful Citizenship

Gabriel Murillo Castaño and Nathalia Castañeda Aponte

This paper begins with an analysis of the origins of the concepts of competence and standards in order to clarify their significance.  It explains how the term competence has been used since the gymnastic games of Ancient Greece, and later appropriated by psychologists and linguists who have used the concept in their studies of communicative competence.  Subsequently, the term has been used in other daily settings such as the work place where standards were established.  In summary, competence can be understood as a “know how”, and standard as a criterion of quality.  Considering the difficult situation of Latin American youth respect to political and citizen education, the article suggests how the idea of using standards and citizen competence arose as a complementary method in coexistence manuals, civic classes, student social services, and student orientation.

Next, this work offers a summary of the measurements and previous public policies of citizen competence in Colombia, and comments on the process that led to the development of this project, along with the different entities involved in measurement and analysis.  Among the most noteworthy studies are those realized by the National Education Ministry (MEN), the Colombian Institute for the Development of Higher Education (ICFES), the International Association for Educational Evaluation (IEA), the Educational Alliance Association (AAE), and the Center for Research and Educational Formation (CIFE) of the University of the Andes. After, the paper explains the model used in Colombia and its relation to the evaluation program used to measure student academic performance known as “Pruebas Saber”. This is a tool of information gathering for the later assessment of this model. The article also presents a brief analysis of these two elements from a political science point of view focused on construction of youth citizen policy.

Finally, this document refers briefly to some cases where the model has been applied in other Latin American countries -Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Bolivia.  While recognizing the model’s value, in the conclusion it presents some suggestions from a political science perspective of how to strengthen the construction of citizenship, both at the normative and empirical levels, starting with this educational policy that is being applied progressively throughout the region.


Key words: Youth; Public Policy; Competence; Citizenship; Colombia; Latin America

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