15.05.2009 - UNESCO

Regional philosophical dialogue gains widespread interest

Philosophical dialogue was highlighted during May by the organization of regional meetings in Asia and the Arab region co-organized with UNESCO.

Philosophical dialogue was highlighted during the month of May by the organization of three regional meetings in Asia and the Arab region co-organized with UNESCO. A high-level regional meeting on “Philosophy teaching in the Arab Region” took place in Tunis (Tunisia), from 11 to 12 May 2009. The second meeting on “Teaching of Philosophy in Asia and the Pacific” was held from 25 to 26 May 2009, in Manila (Philippines). Lastly, the “Asia-Arab Inter-Regional Philosophical Dialogues”, was held in Bangkok (Thailand), from 28 to 30 May 2009. 

At the Tunis meeting (11-12 May 2009), which brought together Ministers of Education, philosophy teachers, practitioners an experts, the main specific challenges the region is facing in the field of philosophy teaching were discussed as well as ways in which this discipline can be introduced into curricula where it does not exist. During the meeting, sessions were dedicated to the experiences of the region in terms of learning to philosophize with children in primary schools, and philosophy teaching at secondary and tertiary levels. 

From 25 to 26 May 2009 another high-level meeting on “Teaching of Philosophy in Asia and the Pacific”, was organized by the Philippine Department of Education, the Office of the Philippine Presidential Assistant for Education, and the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, in Manila (Philippines). 

The objective of this regional meeting was to formulate policies in the field of the teaching of philosophy at national and regional levels, in view of the full attainment of quality education. To this end, this meeting addressed the main challenges that the teaching of philosophy in Asia and the Pacific is facing today, such as - the place that should be given to philosophy in primary and secondary education curricula - the added value of philosophical inquiry to moral education - the crucial issue of philosophy teacher training - the development of culturally appropriate content and methods drawing from the rich traditions of philosophy in Asia and the Pacific - and the question of the necessary interactions between the teaching of philosophy in secondary and higher education. 

More information on the Manila meeting 

The two regional meetings in Tunis and Manila also drew on the study published by UNESCO in 2007 on the state of the art of the teaching of philosophy in the world, entitled “Philosophy, a School of Freedom” [PDF, 14 MB]. This publication, based on the results of a worldwide survey, draws up the state of the teaching of philosophy at all education levels, both formal and informal. As an outcome, a “Plan of Action” was adopted by all participants, engaging countries in the process of policy formulation regarding the introduction and reinforcement of philosophy teaching in curricula. 

Launched in 2004, the Asia-Arab Inter-regional Philosophical Dialogue was held from 28 to 30 May 2009, in Bangkok (Thailand). The meeting aimed at furthering mutual understanding between philosophers from different regions, as well as strengthening local, regional and global awareness of the rich philosophical traditions of many regions of the world. More than 20 philosophers from both regions presented papers and sharing their views on different issues. 

Dialogue is essential for developing a better understanding of not only others, but also of ourselves. In recent times the teaching of philosophy in almost all regions of the world include core components with a predominance of Western philosophers, and hence published works in European languages. 

In order to strengthen local, regional and global awareness of the rich philosophical traditions of many regions of the world, the programme of UNESCO’s Social and Human Science Sector in philosophy has launched programmes on inter-regional philosophical dialogues since 2004. 

More information on the Bangkok meeting 




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