Experts from Latin America: Teachers should receive training in teaching about the Holocaust, genocide and violent pasts

02.10.2017 -The pressing need to train teachers on education about the Holocaust, genocide and other atrocity crimes was one of the key points emphasized by specialists belonging to UNESCO's Latin American Network on these matters. The group held its fourth meeting on September 13, 2017 in Buenos Aires.

During the meeting, participants reviewed initiatives that network countries are implementing in the region. This event was attended by high-level representatives of the education ministries of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay. Exchanges also took place with international experts representing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), Facing History and Ourselves, the Holocaust Museum of Guatemala and Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation. The meeting was followed by an international seminar on the same topics, which took place in Argentina's capital on September 14 and 15.

Argentina's Education Minister, Alejandro Finocchiaro, remarked that it was a great honor for his country to host representatives of UNESCO and each of the countries in the Latin American Network for Education on the Holocaust and Genocide. In this regard, Finocchiaro said, Argentina is committed "to the challenge of continuing to stimulate educational policies that promote initiatives for respecting diversity, building civic participation and strengthening a culture that unites for peace."

During the meeting, participants shared information about on-going national programs. For example, Costa Rica reported on the training of over 400 teachers, Chile described curricular reforms in the field of human rights education including substantial new components related to Holocaust education, El Salvador reported on the outcomes of its partnership with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and Uruguay presented new online materials for teachers.

New initiatives to be implemented in partnership with UNESCO were also discussed concerning El Salvador, Guatemala and Paraguay. UNESCO also announced the participation of Colombian and Mexican representatives in its International Conference on Education and the Holocaust, to be held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in December 2017.

Representatives from participating countries stressed that UNESCO's network has been an important catalyst for their work in this area, and more broadly, in civic education and teaching about violent events of the past. It has also facilitated access to international expertise, ensuring support for cooperation between ministries of education of the region and major organizations such as Yad Vashem, the USC Shoah Foundation, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and other such institutions. Moreover, there was consensus regarding the need to further institutionalize the network to ensure its sustainability over time and possibly link it to other organizations and networks.

What was shared and what is to come

Among the challenges highlighted by the members of the network is the need to create an online database or platform on education about the Holocaust and other genocides, to promote the sharing of practices and access to policy resources on the continent, such as laws and ministerial directives. The participants also remarked on the need to further integrate Holocaust and genocide education into regional initiatives and regulatory frameworks relating to global citizenship education and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education.

Cecilia Barbieri, director (a.i) of the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago) highlighted that these themes are an important component of Global Citizenship Education since they “play a fundamental role in promoting a culture of prevention, reducing prejudices, encouraging coexistence and diversity, and nurturing respect for all people. Educating about the history of genocide and the atrocities of the past can help us in developing an awareness on the roots of violence and its consequences for the world and its citizens.

After the meeting, on September 22 in Paris the Director-General of UNESCO announced the signing of a partnership agreement with the French organization Yahad-In Unum, whose future activities in Latin America and the Caribbean include the traveling exhibit “The Holocaust by Bullets” (The Holocaust by Bullets”) and organization of an international symposium on Holocaust education and research. The symposium will take place in 2018 in Guatemala, and will also provide the framework for the fifth meeting of this Latin American and Caribbean network.

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The UNESCO network meeting was made possible by generous support from the Education Ministry of Argentina and France's Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The meeting included the launch in Latin America of the Spanish version of UNESCO publications Education About the Holocaust and Preventing Genocide. A Policy Guide” (2017) and “La enseñanza del Holocausto en América Latina. Los desafíos para los educadores y legisladores” (Teaching about the Holocaust in Latin America: Challenges for Educators and Lawmakers, 2017). 

Additional information:

Contact:
Karel Fracapane, k.fracapane(at)unesco.org
UNESCO Paris


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