21.05.2018 - UNESCO Venice Office

Education as a Tool for Prevention of Violent Extremism in South-East Europe for Peaceful Societies

UNESCO video on Global Citizenship Education to prevent violent extremism

The Global Citizenship Education for Peaceful Societies in South-East Europe: a Sub-Regional Capacity-Building Workshop on the Prevention of Violent Extremism took place on 2-4 May 2018 in Venice, Italy. It aligned with the "Education for Justice" (E4J) initiative, implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as part of its Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, and was complimentary to UNESCO's ongoing efforts on Global Citizenship Education and the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education.

The workshop was organized jointly by UNESCO’s Section of Global Citizenship and Peace Education (GCPE) and UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, with the support of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In attendance were 22 representatives from South-East European countries.

The event was inaugurated by Ana Luiza M. Thompson-Flores, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, H.E. Ambassador Ali bin Jassim Al Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations and International Organizations in Vienna (Austria) and Gilberto Duarte of the UNODC, with greetings from the Italian National Commission for UNESCO.

In her welcoming remarks, Ana Luiza M. Thompson-Flores underlined that it is through the transformative power of education that we can not only prevent violent extremism but also build peace – real, lasting peace – in minds of the young men and women that represent the future - of this region and of the world.

It is in this same collaborative spirit that we are working together to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and I am very pleased to note that your discussions in these days will work towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education, specifically towards Target 4.7.”, she added.

The 3-day programme focused on the role of education in the prevention of violent extremism, followed by key tools and approaches for effective multi-stakeholder engagement, which provided a solid basis for the participants to formulate and present their draft country action plans on the last day. 

Lydia Ruprecht, Team Leader for Global Citizenship Education within UNESCO’s GCPE Section, introduced the 9 international experts who, in representation of their institutions (Arigatou International, CELL Foundation, the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Training Centre for International Cooperation, and Radicalisation Awareness Network RAN EU) support the workshop.

The experts, along with the expertise of UNESCO and UNODC staff, facilitated exercises on varied topics. They ranged from the global PVE legal framework to potential causes of the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education (PVE-E) in South-East Europe, linkages between education and violent extremism, what defines a “good practice”, inclusive education through quality textbooks, the power of media and information literacy, ethics education, polarization management and the role of the family in PVE-E.

Lydia Ruprecht explained that democracy is key to enabling and keeping within reasonable limits activism, also for the evolution of laws to keep pace with society, and that “as educators, we should also be able to recognize our own subjectivity and know how this is interpreted and taught to students”.  

There is a chance”, she finally stated “that they start questioning what they consider is truth and the real justice. It may lead them to the authorization, inquiry, critical thinking, self-questioning, and assumption to bridge or build some connections. I suggest we can conclude on our way so that we are reflecting our own assumptions about teaching content or approaches.”

The primary outputs of the workshop will be a set of draft country action plans, as a basis for developing follow-up activities. The UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe will continue monitoring progress in the action plans’ preparation and implementation in participating countries.

Photo album on Flickr: https://bit.ly/2rSNJBo

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