Background: For the first time in his or her life, a child is brought into constant contact with others when he or she begins to attend school. In the process, the child as learner is exposed to a range of perspectives about society, and to what it means to be a member of a group and of society in general. In this process, the young person becomes acquainted with the intrinsic value system of society, which society expects the school to impart to the learners. School education and, in particular citizenship education, therefore, are value-based and -driven activities that ideally should assist learners to develop and express their own views about society, their place, task and role in society as future citizens.
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to explicate the theoretical argument that four sets of basic values should form the substratum for a school’s citizenship education curriculum or program, namely: the constitutional values of the nation, the basic and widely accepted ethical values, the relevant local community values, and values associated with global citizenship.
Design/Methodology/Approach: This is a position paper in which the authors propound a core theoretical argument and subsequently attempt to defend their position on conceptual, theoretical and experiential grounds.
Findings: Citizenship as such, and citizenship education should not be seen as fixed, final and static, but rather as situated in the following field of tension: on the one hand, the abovementioned four sets of values that seem to be widely accepted and stable, and on the other, values that are more personal, fluid and conditional. The four of these sets of values mentioned above ideally should form the value substratum of the particular nation’s citizenship education policies and citizenship education curriculum or program.
Conclusion: The four sets of (moral) values discussed in this paper should ideally form a balanced mix that could favourably shape a state’s citizenship education policy and citizenship education curriculum or program, and thereby lead to the formation of balanced future citizens.
Key words: citizenship, citizenship education, community values, global values, social values, values education