Regions

A short description of how ethics is taught in every participating region.

Bavaria

Curator
Rolf Roew

Quick facts

Independent ethics course
Compulsory for those students that do not attend religious instruction
6-19 years old
About 281.000 (sum of all grades)
In all grades: 75 lessons of 45 minutes per year
Written tests and oral marks in each grade; final exam at state level (if chosen by the pupil)

In Bavaria, ethics is taught two lessons a week in all grades (1-13). For those pupils who refuse to attend religious instruction for conscientious reasons, ethics is a compulsory subject. About a third of pupils in Bavaria actually attend ethics. The legal framework for the subject is expressed in article 47(2) of BayEUG:

“The subject ethics serves for educating the pupils to judge and act in a value-oriented way. Its contents are oriented at the core values that are expressed in the German Basic Law and the Bavarian constitution. For the areas that are not determined by these core values it respects the plurality of confessions and worldviews.”

So the subject ethics in Bavaria has an educational mandate to foster core values. It is competence-oriented (the competence to “judge and act in a value-oriented way”) and action-oriented, which means that the teacher hasn‘t completed his task when the students come to moral judgments, because the ultimate objective is moral action.

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Croatia

Curator
Zoran Kojčić

Quick facts

Course:

Independent ethics course
Elective
14-18 years old
Estimated 1.000 students in each grade (4.000 students in total)
35 hours per year, 1 hour per week
Final exam at state level
Part of the philosophy curriculum
Compulsory
17-18 years old
11.000 students in the 4th year of gymnasium
70 hours per year, 2 hours per week

In 1992, the religious education curriculum was introduced in Croatia. In 1996, the ethics curriculum was introduced as an alternative to religious education. By 2003, the ethical plan and program in Croatian high schools (14-18 years of age) was based on ethics history, so-called ethics, philosophical ethics and the history of religions. A new program was introduced in the same year:

"The program is designed to stimulate thinking, active participation and the use of previous knowledge and to formulate views on key issues of the program. Not to prefer a particular worldview or philosophical direction is to ensure respect for multiculturalism and philosophical openness to dialogue." (PNPE, 2003, 18)

Around 4000 students per year choose ethics. They have one hour per week in all 4 grades of high school (35 school hours per year). At the end of the 4th grade students can choose ethics as an elective subject for the final state exam.

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Greece

Quick facts

Course:

Part of a philosophy course
Compulsory
16-17
69-70.000 (all students of second grade of higher division of high school)
45-50 hours per year/2 hours per week (8-10 hours of the course dedicated to ethics)
Written exam, Oral exam (internally assessed)
Part of a religious education course
Compulsory
17-18
69-70.000 (all students of third grade of the higher division of high school)
45-50 hours per year/2 hours per week (the entire course dedicated to Christian ethics)
Written exam, Oral exam (internally assessed)
Part of an Ancient Greek language and culture course
Compulsory only for students in the humanistic section/orientation
17-18
29-30.000 (all students of third grade of the higher division of high school)
138-150 hours per year/6 hours per week (18 hours dedicated to the Nicomachean Ethics)
Written exam, Oral exam (internally assessed)

Ethics is taught in the upper division of Greek high schools (Lykeion) as an integral part of two mandatory courses for all sections/orientations (Philosophy and Religion) and of one mandatory course for the humanistic orientation (Ancient Greek). In the case of introduction to philosophy, offered at the second grade of Lykeion, ethics is one of the main areas included in the syllabus (along with epistemology, metaphysics, political philosophy and aesthetics). Religious education at the third grade is provided as a course for students of all orientations, although students have the right to ask to be exempted from it for reasons of freedom of conscience. It builds on more basic courses presenting Christian doctrine, which are offered at the first and at the second grade. It focuses on Christian ethics and on the challenges it is confronted with in the contemporary world, drawing on the Greek Orthodox tradition, but with a more ecumenical scope. Ancient Greek, offered as part of the curriculum of the humantistic orientation at the third grade, includes the interpretation of excerpts from the text of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.  More particularly, the content of these courses can be described as follows:

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The Netherlands

Curator
Floris Velema

Quick facts

Course:

Part of the philosophy curriculum (VWO)
Elective
15-18 years old
160 VWO schools (25% of the total number of schools nationally)
3 years, 480 hours in total, of which 80 hours are dedicated to ethics
National exam in philosophy
Part of the philosophy curriculum (HAVO)
Elective
15-17 years old
60 HAVO schools (10% of the total number of schools nationally)
2 years, 320 hours in total, of which 80 hours are dedicated to ethics
National exam in philosophy

In The Netherlands, ethics is part of the philosophy curriculum. Philosophy is taught at the pre-university level (VWO) and at the pre-higher vocational level (HAVO). In 2018, the number of schools offering philosophy as an exam subject has stabilized at 60 HAVO schools and 160 VWO schools (10% and 25% of the total number of schools nationally).

Like other school subjects in the Netherlands, philosophy in the upper grades of HAVO and VWO has a program which includes both internal and external assessment. The HAVO curriculum differs from the VWO curriculum. The first program is focused on students with a more practical mindset and preparing for higher vocational education, while the second is focused on students who will continue their education at university. The HAVO curriculum is therefore more practical and focuses on humanities. It consists of three main domains: philosophical anthropology, ethics and social philosophy. The VWO curriculum is more academic and has four main domains: philosophical anthropology, ethics, theory of knowledge and philosophy of science.

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North Rhine-Westphalia

Curator
Rolf Roew

Quick facts

Course:

Independent ethics course
Compulsory for those students that do not attend religious instruction
Grades 5-10 (10-16 years old)
Estimated 220.000 (sum of all grades)
75 lessons of 45 minutes (56 hours) per year
Marks in each grade
Part of philosophy course
Elective for all students; compulsory for those that do not attend religious instruction
Grades 11-12 (16-18 years old)
Estimated 100.000 (sum of all grades)
112 lessons (84 hous) a year for the basic course; 186 lessons (140 hours) a year for the special course
Final exam at state level

There are two courses in North Rhine-Westphalia that deal with ethical education: Practical Philosophy and Philosophy. Practical Philosophy is taught in grades 5-10 and is specifically oriented towards the teaching of ethics. Philosophy comprises practical philosophy and theoretical philosophy and is held in grades 11 and 12.

The main objectives for the subject Practical Philosophy are described in the core curriculum as follows (translation by Roew): “The subject promotes the development of the entire personality to social responsibility, to the development of a democratic society, to the orientation at basic values, to the participation in the shaping of our culture as well as to responsible activity in the world of work”. [...] “The central concern of the subject is to contribute to the development of competences in pupils which enable them to perceive reality in a differentiated way and to deal systematically with questions of meaning and values, to apply them in the search for answers to the question of the meaning of human existence and to live self-determined, responsible and tolerant lives in a democratic society. The students develop the ability to empathize and achieve a sense of value and self-confidence that is the foundation for responsible action. In the lessons, criteria for the evaluation of different ideas, values and norms are to be developed as well as one's own ability to reflect and judge.” [...]

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Norway

Quick facts

Course:

Part of Religion and Ethics
Compulsory
18
34.000
84 hours
Internal grading; students may be randomly selected for oral exam
Part of History and Philosophy
Elective
17-18
2200
140 hours each year (over two years)
Grades (internally assessed); students may be randomly selected for oral and national written exam

In the Norwegian upper secondary school (16-18 years), ethics is part of the ‘Religion and Ethics’ course and the ‘History and Philosophy’ course. ‘Religion and Ethics’ is mandatory for all students attending the university training program. ‘History and Ethics’ is elective for pupils attending the university training program.

Religion and Ethics
‘Religion and Ethics’ is a 1-year course taught the last year of upper secondary school with 84 hours of total duration. The course is a continuation of ‘Christianity, Religion, Philosophy and Ethics’ which is part of the standard curriculum from age 6 to 16.

The course combines the study of religion with the study of philosophy and ethics. The goal is to promote ethical reflection which will help students in mastering life-decisions, becoming responsible citizens, and contribute to society overall.

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Slovakia

Quick facts

Course:

Independent ethics course
Compulsory for those students that do not attend religious instruction
15-17 years old
Estimated 5.000 per year
2 years, 80 hours in total, 1 hour per week
Not graded, only verbal assessment
Part of the civics curriculum
Compulsory
17-18 years old
12.000 per year
Less than 1 hour per week; estimated 5-10 hours per course dedicated to ethics
Internally assessed within the civics exam

In Slovakia ethics is part of two subjects, namely (1) ethical education and (2) civics.

Ethical education is compulsory for those students that do not attend religious education. The subject is attended during the first two years of high school by students between 15 and 17 years of age. Around 5000 students attend this subject per year. The subject is taught in one teaching hour per week (approximately 80 hours for the whole course). Ethical education is not graded, students just pass the subject without formal state examination.

Ethical education in Slovakia is based on the concept of prosociality. The most notable authors that formed the subject in the beginning of 1990s are Roberto Roche Olivar and Ladislav Lencz. Their texts are still influential today. As these authors were specialised mostly in psychology and pedagogy, the teaching materials of the subject are oriented not only on philosophical ethics but also on psychological and pedagogical aspects of ethical matters.

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Slovenia

Curator
Miha Andrič

Quick facts

Course:

Part of the philosophy curriculum
Compulsory
16-18 years old
7.000 students per year
1 year, 70 hours per year, of which 15 hours are dedicated to ethics
Essay, written exam and oral exam (internally assessed)
Part of the philosophy curriculum
Elective for all students; compulsory for those that do not attend religious instruction
16-18 years old
170-230 students per year
1 year, 105 hours per year, 2-3 hours per week, 15 hours dedicated to ethics
Essay, written exam and oral exam (internally assessed)
Part of the philosophy curriculum
Elective
17-18 years old
170-230 students per year
1 year, 210 hours per year, 6 hours per week, 100 hours dedicated to ethics (if ethics is elected as one of the topics)
National state exam

Ethics is taught in Slovenia within three different philosophy courses that are offered to secondary school students at the pre-university level.

1. A compulsory philosophy course in general grammar schools
This course consists of 70 lessons per school year (2 lessons per week) that students take in their 3rd or 4th grade of high school. 15 lessons of the course are dedicated to ethics. The age of the students ranges from 16 to 18 years old. Approximately 7000 students take this class each year. All the students are internally assessed through oral tests, written exams and essay writing.

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Spain

Quick facts

Course:

Independent ethics course: 'Valores Éticos'
Compulsory for those students that do not attend religious instruction
15-16
144.000
2 hours a week (64-70 hours a year)
Written tests throughout the course
Part of the course 'Filosofía'
Elective
15-16
144.000
2 hours a week (64-70 hours a year)
Written tests throughout the course
Part of the course 'Filosofía'
Compulsory in the first year of the Bachillerato
16-17
53.000
4 hours a week (124-130 hours a year)
Written tests throughout the course
Part of the course 'Historia de la Filosofía'
Compulsory in the Humanities and Social Sciences track of the second year of the Bachillerato
17-18
17.000
4 hours a week (124-130 hours a year)
Final evaluation at state level

Ethics curricula in Spanish (secondary) education should be understood generally in the context of no less than eight different educational laws concocted over the span of nearly 40 years. In 1980 the L.O.E.C.E. was the first update regarding education, now within a democratic environment –Spain voted its constitution in 1978. But the L.O.E.C.E. only lasted for five years. Two important landmarks are to be noted at this point: in 2006 the L.O.E. (Ley Orgánica de Educación [Education Organic Law]) and in 2013 the L.O.M.C.E. (Ley Orgánica para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa [Organic Law for the Enhancement of Education’s Quality]) determined the current moment in the organization of the educational programmes for next years. This is so because the present day education law is to be substituted maybe even next course 2021-2022 by a modification of the former L.O.E. called precisely L.O.M.L.O.E. (Ley Orgánica de Modificación de la L.O.E.) which was voted in the Spanish Parliament on November 19, 2020. At his moment the content of the general curriculum is uncertain, but apparently the ethics curricula with its subjects will be changed in status losing its compulsory character.

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