CEWC History

The collapse of the League of Nations prompted the establishment of the Council for Education for World Citizenship in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II.

The Christmas Holiday Lectures at Central Hall Westminster were started in December 1944 with over two thousand sixth formers attending to listen to many speakers of note. CEWC became a thriving organisation with several thousand member schools in the UK. Schools from Belgium, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy and the USA attended conferences.

CEWC coordinated the UNESCO Associated Schools Project which now has about 8000 schools in 176 countries; the schools are encouraged to work on projects around themes such as human rights, peace, democracy, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue. It carried out UNESCO Co-action activities, where schools raised money for projects that UNESCO administered to help underdeveloped countries.

Model United Nations General Assemblies, where students research and debate on behalf of different countries, were an important activity. They emphasised that students needed to learn how to research, debate and take action rather than simply learn facts. This is in a similar tradition to Quality Circles. The Broadsheet with its junior version, other publications, an expanded speakers service, regional councils and conferences, seminars for teachers, and increasing partnership projects with other organisations enabled CEWC to have a voice at the highest levels. The UK government funded CEWC, and education ministers from all political parties were supportive.

Many people were influenced when students by CEWC’s activities. These include a current UK cabinet member and many past ones, some of whom are CEWC Vice-Presidents. It is difficult to even guess how many decisions have been influenced by CEWC’s message. CEWC and its members have helped the birth of many important organisations including Oxfam, Freedom from Hunger, Voluntary Service Overseas, Community Service Volunteers and the Association for Citizenship Teaching. CEWC was there at the first United Nations General Assembly in London. One of the major achievements of the United Nations was the creation of an international framework of law on Human Rights. Also in 1945 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was formed, and again CEWC facilitated the birth.

CEWC Cymru and CEWC Northern Ireland are sister organisations. CEWC Cymru works directly with young people and teachers on global citizenship. It organises educational events for student and, provides training and resources for teachers. CEWC Cymru receives its core funding from the Welsh Assembly Government, local education authorities, and over 100 school and college members.

Through its programme of Active Global Citizenship Projects, CEWC Northern Ireland enabled young people from post-primary schools and youth groups to understand and confront global issues and challenges. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child underpinned its work.

Citizenship is now taught in the curriculum in the UK. Every year the subject’s strength and importance grows, and influences students to be more tolerant, socially active and aware of their rights. However, the global dimension tends to be neglected.

In 1985 the UK government under Margaret Thatcher withdrew from UNESCO membership, so ASPnet activities ceased in the UK. This was followed by the withdrawal of government funding for CEWC in 1994. This has not been re-instated. Nonetheless its Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1999 was a spectacular event that reflected the true worth of CEWC.

Valiant attempts were made to keep going by running educational projects, but without government funding it became necessary to reduce CEWC’s staff down to two unpaid volunteers. In 2001 activities were suspended for two years. Then CEWC received a legacy as a result of the death of former director Margaret Quass. A Phoenix meeting was held, and CEWC rose from the ashes. An office was opened in a school and a director was appointed, and activities started again, though not yet on the previous scale. Placement students were employed for three years, and now the office has moved to Kingston University.

A delegation went to the 10th International Convention of Schools Quality Control Circles at City Montessori School, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India in November 2007 and our first office outside the UK was opened.

Other recent activities, especially human rights activities, are described in other entries on this blog. CEWC is about to become part of the Citizenship Foundation, so it is appropriate to list some of our supporters and to thank them for all they have done.

Patron: H.R.H The Duke of Gloucester

President: John Gordon


TWF Allan John Lockett

Lord Archer of Sandwell PC QC Rabbi Julia Neuberger
Lord Attenborough CBE Professor James O’Connell

Charles Clarke MP John Raisman

John Colclough Lord John Roper
Lord Judd Anne Sofer

Vivian Kerr OBE Lord Steel of Aikwood PC

Baron Neil Kinnock PC Professor Bill Wallace

Susan Kramer MP Baroness Williams of Crosby PC

Chair: Professor David Miles

Vice-Chair: John Waddleton

Executive Board:
Urszula Basini Kanbar Hosseinbor
Natasha Eggett Jude Smith Rachele
Professor Richard Ennals Professor Mary Stuart
Michael Freeston Christopher Wyld

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

One thought on “CEWC History

  1. I’m 85, was a school in Middx during the blitz years [1940-1945], was a keen CEWC member but was bitterly disappointed when the UN set up post-war was such a damp squib – as bad as the League. It seemed to make the travail of WW2 worse than useless because it had landed us with nuclear weapons without the structures which could secure world order. There has recently been a NATO summit meeting in Wales. Main items: how to react to the Islamic threat in Iraq and Syria and the Russian threat in Ukraine and the need for every NATO signatory to meet its commitment to pay 2% of GDP to NATO.
    It is my contention that these are matters for an empowered UN, not for one segment of the global population in opposition to other segments of the global population – which is simply tribalism writ large and a denial of our common humanity.
    It is not a human right to be able to wage war. In fact the war which began a century ago deprived 16 million human beings of their most basic right, the right to life. Another 21 million were wounded, many of them incapacitated for life.
    See http://www.garrettjones.talktalk.net and

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