University of Lisbon - Institute of Education (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 414-420
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
Portugal, like most of Europe, is in the midst of a political debate on social cohesion. The key concepts in this debate are diversity and the multicultural dimension. Portugal, experiencing a large change from emigration to immigration, clearly meets the specification of a multicultural society. The phenomenon of immigration has had enormous influence within the country. This phenomenon started after independence of former Portuguese colonies (late 1970s) and after Portugal become part of the European Union (1986). It expanded in the transition to the 21st century. In 2002, from a national population of around 10 million inhabitants, there were 389 thousand immigrants, of which about 100 thousand were illegal immigrants.
Citizenship is the new socio-political issue. In essence it is about the balance between diversity an the limits to recognizing and supporting diverse cultural identities and the possibility of constructing a new unifying “we" (Vincent, 2003; Gewirtz & Cribb, 2008).
This new social reality had an obvious impact on Portuguese schools due to the cultural contradictions between students and has become more visible since the introduction of the mass education. Within this context, early in the 1990s, movements and policies emerged and are considered the main turning point for multicultural and intercultural education in the country.
In this paper I will focus on how policies, school leaders and teachers are addressing and making sense of questions of cultural diversity. I will start by describing the population composition and immigration and education policies. I will then describe the evolution of the educational ideologies, the degree to which the multicultural dimension and citizenship education are part of the Portuguese education system, and the dilemmas of school leaders and teachers. The study proposes to compare Portuguese and Finnish public schools to examine their contexts and conditions of governance, stressing similarities and differential characteristics. The interpretative analysis focuses on the data emerging from multiple case studies, highlights the policies and practices of participation of local autonomy, and the organizational and curricular options leading to the development of the citizenship of the students.
I want to enable school leaders and teachers to think and speak about citizenship education in an ethnically mixed society and help them to develop approaches to daily practice in the classroom. The conclusions are that multiculturality has not been as present in real school life as it is Portuguese legislation issued, and school leaders and teachers do not have the professional expertise needed to respond effectively to such dilemmas yet. It became necessary that further research contribute to an improved understanding of the recognizance of different cultures and their values, making multicultural and citizenship education a challenge for schools.

Gewirtz, S. & Cribb, A. (2008).Taking Identity Seriously: Dilemmas for Education Policy and Practice. European Educational Research Journal, 7 (1), 39-49.
Vincent, C. (Ed) (2003). Social Justice, Education and Identity.London
Multicultural societies, citizenship, research in education.