European Heritage Label: from Archive to School

Trindade Marques Serralheiro
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The story we would like to tell is about the implementation of a strategie to spread the European Values that are embodied in the “Charter of Law for Abolition of the Death Penalty and Reforming Prisons (Portugal,  1867)  to a wide  number of young people.

On  the occasion  of the 150th Anniversary Commemorations of Abolition in 2017 /2018,   the National Archive  integrated a  Teacher`s Training  based on the perception of a certain unawareness  about the way this  topic is being approached, or not, in schools.


During the  visits to the exhibition "Abolition of the Death Penalty and European Citizenship" promoted by the Educational Service,  since 2015, we realized:

- The topic  "Death Penalty" is rarely addressed in schools either in the context of History or in projects related to "Human Rights";
- From   the teachers who accompanied their groups in  the study visits, we learned that they would like to be better able to develop pedagogical strategies adequate to approach the issue of the Death Penalty.

These teachers, effectively, revealed to us that  this  issue had, very immediately,   the capacity to provoke  among  the  student`s  very exciting and controversial debates, these  not always easy to deal with;
- There was also a need to counteract a certain current of opinion, widespread among us, supported by the idea that Portugal was one of the pioneers in abolishing the death penalty for civil crimes for more than 150 years, and because  the European Union is a free zone of the Capital Penalty, there is no need to talk   about it since Human Rights are  guaranteed.
Nothing is more fallacious and dangerous: nowadays this is a current debate for the biggest part of the  Humanity,  so it  continues to be the reason why it is important to involve, develop and give young people a greater awareness about  the fragility of Human Rights;

- The ideals of the  European Heritage Label, as a recent initiative, also required to be made more widely known by  teachers, in particular, its  significance and fundamental goals  in order to be better integrated  as part of Citizenship Education  in schools;

In the face of this perception, a strategy was designed to promote a Training for Teachers addressed to all levels of public education. It was important to encourage new and creative ways of approaching this issue in schools.

The Training Action was carried out with the following denomination:

Commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty: an opportunity to educate for Human Rights"

The action was supported by Amnesty International Portugal,  the Teacher`s  Training Centre of Vale do Minho and  the School Library Network.

Also, the history teacher,  Luís Sottomayor Braga,  who has deep knowledge and experience in this  subject oriented it voluntary  as an activist for  Amnesty International Portugal.

With these  partnerships has been  possible to carry out a free and certificated  Training, action of 15 hours, for  18 teachers during  3 days, with the following general and specific objectives:

• General objective,

To prepare the teachers for  teaching the curricular area of Citizenship and Development in accordance with the National Strategy for Education and Citizenship defined by the Ministry of Education of Portugal.

• Specific objectives,

1-To understand the importance of Human Rights as a central cultural element in European and Portuguese society;
2. To associate the debate on the death penalty with contemporary general human rights issues;
3- To structure the argumentation  about the debate on the abolition of the death penalty;
4- To provide up-to-date information on the current status of the topic at the international level and provide tools for its approach in the classroom.
5- To know  how the "European Heritage Label” celebrates and symbolises European ideals, values, history and integration.


The active participation of the teachers in the debate and critical reflection during the training  resulted in the production of extremely inspiring final works.

Teachers produced  pedagogic resources covering  all education levels.

The work proposals were so  diversified, fruitful and inspiring  that  could  be adapted and reused by the teachers who intend to work on this in their schools.

 Then  we decided, with the  authorization of the authors,  to  publish them on the website  "150 years of Abolition"  intending  to  provide   new  approaches  to the mentioned issues.

European Dimension

On October the 10th, celebrating the European and World Day of Abolition of the Death Penalty, we began to publish some of the final works on our website.


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