Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Other dimensions of internationalisation in early childhood and school education


13.Mobility and internationalisation

13.4Other dimensions of internationalisation in early childhood and school education

Last update: 30 March 2024

European, global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development

Launched by the 21st Constitutional Government in September 2017, the National Strategy for Citizenship Education (Estratégia Nacional de Educação para a Cidadania - ENEC) consolidates this new curricular component of citizenship and development at all levels of education and compulsory schooling, respecting the principles, values and areas of competences stipulated in the exit profile of students leaving compulsory education. In relation to the curriculum component of "Citizenship and Development", this strategy proposes that students learn through plural and responsible participation in building citizenship and fairer and more inclusive societies within the framework of democracy, respect for diversity and the human rights protection.

More recently, in 2022 and 2023, Portugal participated in important international events in this area, via schools that have invested heavily in the participatory process. This was accomplished in the Voz dos Alunos (Pupils’ Voice) set of initiatives - which include the Transforming Education Pre-Summit and Summit (UNESCO), the TES Project of the School Libraries Network with UNESCO, and the Infinity Project, (Future of Education and Skills 2030 - OECD). 

To support the work of schools, the Directorate-General for Education (Direção-Geral da Educação - DGE) has published a set of reference frameworks for citizenship education, such as European Dimension of Education, Education for Development (this includes section on ‘Global Citizenship’ and the subsection on ‘Cultural Diversity and Visions of the World’) and Interculturality, which has yet to be published.

As part of citizenship education, intercultural education promotes recognition and diversity as an opportunity and source of learning for all, respecting the multicultural nature of today's societies, while developing the capacity to communicate and encourage social interaction, which creates identity and a common sense of belonging to humanity.

This holistic vision/assumption of oneself and human dignity as fundamental values determine practices where learning and the exercise of democratic citizenship are recognised, promoting the inclusion and educational success of all children and young people, from pre-school to upper secondary education. It also involves developing respect for differences and the creation of safe, healthy, peaceful and democratic relationships, interaction and closeness between students and other members of the educational community.

The Right to Education is key to promoting citizens’ inclusion and participation, and school’s role in recognising and including the cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity that currently make up our society. These dimensions must be recognised by the Strategy for Citizenship Education in Schools (EECE) that each school cluster must design and implement, as a benefit for all (children and young people, teaching and non-teaching staff, other education professionals, administration and management bodies, families, community), recognising the importance of cultural diversity as part of the school's educational project.

In 2023, the Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize was awarded - " Citizenship begins in us: transform education" - 3rd Edition. This annual initiative aims to recognise and distinguish school projects, as part of the Education for Citizenship at School Strategy, which contributes to essential citizenship training skills and learning that has an impact on individual civic attitudes, interpersonal relationships and social and intercultural relationships.

Results of the 3rd edition of the Gandhi Prize: 

  • No. of educational establishments that submitted projects: 41.
  • No. of projects selected: 30.
  • No. of students and teachers involved: 1 000 students and 350 teachers.

The winning projects presented ideas, models and local initiatives that mobilise the transformation of the school/education in an active and participatory way with an impact on the educational community.

The "World's Largest Lesson" programme should also be mentioned. This is an international initiative promoted in Portugal by the Portuguese Committee for UNICEF and the Directorate-General for Education (Ministry of Education), which encourages reflection and action regarding Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), involving children and young people and promoting active global citizenship, as well as greater awareness of the role of each person in building a safer, healthier and more sustainable world. The theme for the 8th edition of "AMLM" (2022/23 school year) is "Transforming Education", as part of SDG 4 (Quality Education).

Based on the reference frameworks "National Strategy for Citizenship Education" (ENEC, 2017), "exit profile of students leaving compulsory education" (PA, 2017), Decree-Law No 55/2018, Decree-Law No 54/2018 and "Essential Learning", Interculturality in Citizenship Education becomes core to the curriculum with the subject Citizenship and Development, which is part of the syllabus of all levels, cycles and courses, (inclusion of citizenship in core aspects of civic life - Interculturality), offering diversity and heterogeneity as decisive for student and school success.

As such, interculturality invites interaction and dialogue regarding what is diverse and similar, making us aware that ideas formulated about people and groups are based on our own beliefs, learning, experiences and multiple cultural identities, underpinning all children and young people’s active participation in their own learning path, appreciating their cultural heritage and national origins, legal status and socio-economic situation.

To this end, the Directorate-General for Education, the High Commissioner for Migration, I.P. and the Aga Khan Portugal Foundation have been promoting the Initiative Intercultural School Seal since 2012, which consists of a certificate and a digital seal with the award (Level I - Initiation, Level II - Intermediate, Level III - Advanced). The Intercultural School Seal aims to distinguish school projects that recognise and value diversity as an opportunity and source of knowledge for all.

Schools applying for the Intercultural School Seal award are invited to fill in the Intercultural Education Assessment Guide, which addresses multiple cross-cultural issues, including non-discrimination, freedom of religion and interreligious dialogue. Holding the Intercultural School Seal means the school can use the seal in all documents during its validity (two years).

Still in the area of interculturality, the above-mentioned partners created the Schools Network for Intercultural Education (Rede de Escolas para a Educação Intercultural - REEI) Pilot Programme, whose main objectives are:

1) to promote the reception, integration and educational success of all children and young people from pre-school to upper secondary education.

2) to encourage respect for differences and positive interaction and approximation between students and other members of the education community from different cultural backgrounds. As part of REEI, the aim is to encourage interaction and bring people together in the school and educational community, as well as to ensure that curriculum, practices and organisational culture value diversity.

As a result of the Schools Network for Intercultural Education Pilot Programme (REEI) evaluation that ended in 2019, the new terms of reference and governance model were drawn up and agreed upon in the first half of 2020, and a launch session of the new REEI cycle was held for the three-year period 2020-2023 (in July 2020). This session saw a presentation of the 48 new members of the Network, including schools in 14 districts, as well as the objectives and methodology adopted for the new cycle. REEI 2.0’s activity - legitimated by the Strategy for Citizenship Education in School in the field of interculturality and through the subject citizenship and development - aims to help develop methodologies that value existing diversity by the approach to knowledge and learning among schools and relevant partners. This promotes processes of change in the environment and school setting that are suitable for the transformation of the educational community, as a whole.

The following are planned: regional meetings (values, principles and concepts of intercultural education; interculturality at school, as part of Strategy for Citizenship Education in School (EECE); sharing of practices/experiences between schools), as well as "short inspiration films" sessions (discovering projects, tools, strategies, perspectives, organisations complementary to REEI objectives), and "Practices Showcase" (recognition of interculturality practices in REEI member schools).

Portugal has also promoted the European dimension in the education system, both at curriculum level and through extracurricular activities. The National Strategy for Citizenship Education (ENEC) is made up of different areas that contribute to students’ education and involvement in building the European project, boosting their participation, reinforcing the protection of their rights and obligations, thus strengthening European identity and values. Within this context, the National European Clubs Network (RNCE) makes a major contribution to the dissemination and exploration of these values by the educational community.

The RNCE began in 1986. It has Clubs in Clusters/Schools at national and international level (Portuguese mainland, Azores, Madeira, Angola and São Tomé), both public and private. The European Clubs are created in pre-school, basic, upper secondary and vocational education establishments, adapted to the context of the Grouping/School and the community they are part of.

As school is an important vehicle for learning and citizenship, European Clubs contribute to students’ education and involvement in the European project, increasing their participation, consolidating protection of their rights and duties, thus strengthening European identity and values.

The UNESCO's Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet), which includes Portuguese schools, is another project that schools can be part of by continuous involvement in projects that are part of UNESCO's objectives.

Partnerships and networks

Through the implementation of bilateral cooperation actions between Portugal and other countries, several partnerships and twinning are established between Portuguese schools and those same countries. In addition to these, there are other partnerships and networks established within EU education programmes.

With the implementation of the Erasmus+ Programme, which started in 2021 and boasts a new support framework for 2021-2027, Portugal’s participation remains at a centralised level via Jean Monnet Actions, centralised KA3 Support to policy development and cooperation  (see Erasmus+ Programme Guide) and various project alternatives in Key Action 2 (cooperation among organisations and institutions, both with centralised actions and with decentralised management undertaken by the National Agency for Erasmus+ Education and Training). This key action allows for projects of various sizes that can be developed with interinstitutional partnerships.

Projects between European schools include eTwinning, the largest community of schools in Europe, which promotes communication, collaboration and sharing between European teachers (and students) via a platform that makes use of ICT. In Portugal, eTwinning has promoted awareness of the European model of multilingual and multicultural society, seeking, in conjunction with Essential Learning, to develop the principles, values and competence areas of exit profile of students leaving compulsory education.

Portuguese schools abroad

Currently, there are 27 schools in Portuguese-speaking African countries, East Timor and the Special Administrative Region of Macau, teaching Portuguese curricula and programmes that are part of the public and private/cooperative network.

Most private schools are in the process of having their teaching recognised by the Portuguese State under Decree-Law No 30/2009, 3 February.

We highlight the schools that are part of the public network, which have worked in the area of bilateral cooperation for development: Escola Portuguesa de Luanda – Centro de Estudos e Língua Portuguesa - CELP (Angola), Escola Portuguesa de Cabo Verde – CELP (Cape Verde), Escola Portuguesa de Moçambique - CELP, (Mozambique) Escola Portuguesa de Díli – CELP (East Timor), Escola Portuguesa de São Tomé e Príncipe - CELP (São Tomé and Príncipe), Escola Portuguesa de Macau (Macau) and Escola Portuguesa de Guiné Bissau. Most of these schools are also teacher training centres accredited by the Scientific Council for Continuing Professional Development (Conselho Científico para a Formação Contínua de Docentes).

European schools

European Schools (ES) are teaching establishments created by the European Commission, primarily intended for the children of its officials, and Accredited European Schools are educational establishments set up by EU Member States which follow the European Schools curriculum. They aim to provide multilingual education at kindergarten, primary and upper secondary level and access to the European Bac.  

The Inspectorate-General of Education and Science (Inspeção-Geral da Educação e Ciência – IGEC) participates in meetings of the board of governors, the budget committee, the inspection councils and the mixed pedagogy committee, undertaking the inspections as stipulated in the regulations or specific mandates, such as:

  • inspections of the European Schools, analysing the results regarding the level reached and quality of teaching methods, presenting conclusions to school heads and teaching staff.
  • providing pedagogic supervision of teachers dependent on the state and respective statutory assessment.
  • participating, alongside other EU Member States, in:
  • managing European Schools with external evaluations of the ES together with inspectors of other nationalities (whole school inspection).
  • participating in working groups to draft norms/regulations/curricular guidelines/programmes.
  • auditing accredited European Schools.
    selection and evaluation committees of European Schools management
  • assessing locally contracted teachers.