The prevention of violent extremism (PVE) through education is increasingly gaining importance. The workshop “Prevention of Violent Extremism through Educational Media: Sharing Good Practices” highlighted the role of educational media, such as textbooks, curricula, and teaching materials, in this context.
National delegations to UNESCO, education officials, teachers, teacher educators, NGOs and research experts came together in a workshop on 26 June 2017 at UNESCO Headquarters to share experiences on the role of educational media to prevent violent extremism through education. The workshop entitled ‘Prevention of Violent Extremism through Educational Media: Sharing Good Practices’ was co-organised by the Permanent Delegation of Germany to UNESCO, and the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research. The event aimed to identify the main challenges to PVE through educational media share expertise on policies and good practices and provide impulses for further action.
According to H.E. Mr Stefan Krawielicki, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Germany to UNESCO, this comes down to a common core task: “enabling young people to change perspective.” In this spirit, his opening remarks outlined the workshop and the challenges ahead: How can educational media enhance the prevention of violent extremism? Which challenges remain for policy makers and educators and how can they be overcome?
In the first session, Alexander Leicht, Chief of UNESCO’s Section of Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship, gave an overview of existing UNESCO initiatives on PVE, and emphasized inclusion and respect for diversity as the “single most important policy principle” that we need to promote in an education system to build resilience to the messages of violent extremism. Eckhardt Fuchs, director of the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, highlighted the importance of textbooks in PVE and discussed how we can learn and build on successful past history textbook revisions through bilateral commissions which addressed controversial and sensitive issues. Eleni Chistodoulou, senior researcher at the Institute, discussed the many challenges that educators face when being given the task to integrate PVE in the classrooms. She also suggested ways to overcome them and in particular, advised caution regarding certain educational policies that can have the adverse effect “leading to stigmatization and stereotyping rather than empowering students”. Ms Christodoulou shared some good practices of PVE in educational media from the UK, Germany as well as from regional and international organizations.
The second session included a mini roundtable where teachers and teacher educators from France, Belgium and Lebanon shared their first-hand experiences both in formal and informal educational settings. They highlighted the role of Media and Information Literacy in helping students build resilience, the role of Citizenship Education in PVE and shared some of the difficulties that they have experienced. Jo Ritzen, Chair of the CELL foundation and former Minister of Education of the Netherlands, discussed the importance of revising textbooks as part of PVE and announced an initiative to establish a ‘Global Agreement’ to reduce divisive stereotypes in textbooks. Other non-governmental organizations such as the Violence Prevention Network also shared their strategies and experiences. A core issue throughout was the need to develop the necessary competencies for young people to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and democratic manner, especially in a school context.
A report on the event will be made available by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research.