The Education for Democracy Index: Measuring and assessing the democratic performance of education systems

Project lead: Jan Germen Janmaat

Team members: Bryony Hoskins and Adrian Arellano

Funder: The Leverhulme Trust

Description: The proposed research has three aims. Firstly, it aims to develop an education for democracy index (EDI) using existing data sources from European countries. This index will measure in a comprehensive way how – and how well – a country’s education system promotes democratic values and competences. Secondly, the project seeks to assess the stability of the civic education policies and practices captured by the index and to explore whether these are linked to particular cultural and political traditions. Thirdly, it aims to examine whether a country’s performance on the index is related to young people’s democratic values and competences.


In response to various challenges facing liberal democracy, Western governments have turned to education in recent years as a tool to bolster the democratic dispositions of the new generation. Although there is ample evidence from educationalists and political scientists that education and particularly civic education can foster such dispositions (i.e. knowledge, skills, values and behaviours), so far no measure has been developed describing comprehensively how and to what degree a country’s educational policies and practices promote such dispositions. Such a measure would not only allow for an easy assessment of the democratic performance of a national education system but also for the identification of specific areas of improvement within it. As such it would be a highly useful tool for policy makers and practitioners interested in citizenship education.

The main objective of the project is to develop such a measure. We label the measure the Education for Democracy Index (EfDI) and we will develop it for almost all European countries. We restrict ourselves to European countries in first instance as these are the countries for which the necessary data sources are available. The EfDI will consist of national level data on system characteristics and educational policies and practices. Unlike other policy indexes, such as the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), it will also cover the implementation of policies and curricula in schools. Once it is constructed, we intend to relate it to national political and cultural traditions (Objective 2) and to young people’s democratic dispositions (Objective 3).

The construction of the EfDI involves two stages: (1) the conceptual development of the index and (2) populating it with data. The first stage starts by drawing on the Reference-Framework-of-Competences-for-Democratic-Culture (RFCDC) of the Council of Europe (CoE) to identify the dispositions that ought to be fostered in liberal democracies. Once these dispositions have been selected, we will engage in an extensive review of the literature on the effect of education, in all its aspects, on these dispositions to identify relevant educational domains and indicators, with each domain comprising several indicators. Being highly familiar with the literature on civic learning, we can say from the onset that these domains are almost sure to cover educational attainment, the curriculum and course content and learning-by-doing pedagogies.

The second stage will involve drawing on relevant data sources to populate the index with data. Such sources include UNESCO and OECD data on educational attainment and other system characteristics, Eurydice reports on citizenship education and IEA-ICCS studies (notably the teacher surveys) for data on practices in schools. These sources make it possible to construct the EfDI for several points in time. We will present the index on a designated website.

Funder: Leverhulme Trust grant RPG-2023-202

Funding period: 1-2-2024 to 31-1-2028

Full NameEmailRoleUni/dept
Jan Germen JanmaatPrincipal InvestigatorUCL/IOE/EPS
Adrian ArellanoResearch FellowUCL/IOE/EPS
Bryony HoskinsCo-InvestigatorRoehampton University