In Europe great attention is devoted to civic education; in order to ensure the development of democratic countries, the majority of society must understand how the political system functions. A comparison of national standards for primary education and general secondary education reveals that primary school students acquire more comprehensive civic knowledge, and that education planning documents are oriented towards patriotic, not civic, education. Results of quantitative and qualitative studies confirm that students have poor knowledge about civic participation and insufficient skills for living in a democratic country. Problems existing in civic education are caused by educational standards and the process of political planning; they are also caused by covert education content (teachers' understanding of democratic participation, opinions about controversial historical aspects), the environment (democracy at school, participation of parents and students in decision making at school), passive learning and the political situation in the country. At the same time, the desire of politicians to foster patriotism can be achieved also through facilitating understanding of civic values and participation in democratic processes.