There is no universally accepted definition of active citizenship. But there is a
general agreement that it refers to the involvement of the individual in public life and affairs.
This can take place at local, national and international levels. The term is used especially at
local level to refer to citizens who become actively involved in the life of their communities
tackling problems or bringing about change. At national level, it can move from voting to
being involved in campaigning pressure groups to being a member of a political party. At
international level, global active citizens may be involved in movements to promote
sustainable development, reduce poverty or eradicate racism.
Active citizens are not necessarily people who follow the rules and laws of society. They may challenge them although they should generally respect democratic processes and should not become involved in violent acts. There is a general set of values that can be associated with active citizens. These include justice, democracy, openness, tolerance, courage and willingness to listen to and work with others.
Active citizenship is also expressed through citizens’ initiatives and participation in civic activities. The following example is from a Moroccan public school. Two years ago a group of second year Baccalaureate students set up a Club for Citizenship in their school. The aim was to promote the values necessary for a person to act as a good citizen. The club launched a project for blood donating. “There is a shortage of blood in hospitals,” Nabil, the coordinator of the club pointed out. “Blood transfusion is needed due to road traffic accidents, premature babies and medical emergencies,” he added. When Nabil spread the news, the response to his Facebook page was fantastic. The Provincial Blood Centre got involved and the partners agreed on the following slogan: “A Drop of Blood Saves a Life.”
The date to donate was fixed to coincide with the World Blood Donor Day in June. Believe it or not, ninety two donors responded. Speaking after making her donation, Rahma commented: “The best things in life are free. Blood donating is an altruistic act…, and my fellow students have shown warm hearts, great spirit and amazing generosity.”