This year EFIL had the great chance to organise two events within the 

Lifelong Learning Week, thanks to the Lifelong Learning Platform and the European Youth Forum. The debate on Intercultural and citizenship education took place on 12 October and was organised in cooperation with EEE-YFU and Democracy and Human rights education in Europe (DARE network). Here you can read the agenda.intercultural-education-debate

We had the pleasure to have with us Sogol Noorani from the Executive Agency for Education, Culture and Audiovisual (EACEA), who was in charge of the drafting of the Publication ‘Overview of education policy developments in Europe following the Paris Declaration of 17 March 2015’, and Nektaria Palaiologou from the International Association of Intercultural Education (IAIE) who has contributed to the so-called NESET II report ‘Education policies and practices to foster tolerance, respect for diversity and civic responsibility in children and young people in Europe’. The objective of the debate was to provide an input on which policies are, at the moment, in place for promoting intercultural dialogue and citizenship and those which are considered effective by research evidence. It emerges clearly that the actions undertaken by Member states so far to implement the Paris Declaration concern mainly the school education sector and adults and higher education students are harder to reach.

Professor Palaiologou stressed how there is a need to go beyond the cognitive dimension and knowledge about cultures and citizenship, but rather work on the feelings and on the practice and experience of individuals. These dimensions are much easier to tackle within non formal education and experiential methods. The DARE network provided an overview of their experience in providing Human Rights and Citizenship Education outside of school and the resistance often faced from the formal sector, and presented a specific project consisting in workshops for teachers and pupils offered by the Human Rights Academy in Norway.

During the debate it was underlined how important it is that while implementing the Paris declaration, there is no targeting of specific groups that are believed to be marginalized or at risk of radicalisation: the whole society needs to advance on intercultural learning and responsible citizenship. Furthermore, activities that bring together all parts of society should be fostered. Within this landscape, the work of EFIL and EEE-YFU promoting educational exchanges for pupils is crucial. In fact, these immersive programmes have a proven effect on developing intercultural competences. EFIL presented its contribution to citizenship education through the European Citizenship Trimester Programme and the ACTIVE project, and its work on intercultural education at all levels: cooperation between research and practice through the Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange, initiatives at local level thanks to Intercultural Dialogue Day and the focus on teachers and pupils’ training on ICL, through the newly approved project ‘INTERCULTURAL TRAINing: Teachers and Pupils on the Move!’.

EEE-YFU presented their work on promoting intercultural learning in the classroom through the workshops ’Coloured Glasses’ they have been running for the last 20 years and that will now be further enhanced thanks to an Erasmus+ project, in cooperation with OBESSU and YEU. The debate concluded with a common feeling of the need of fostering cooperation between the formal and non-formal education sector, and the willingness of everyone present of contributing to building bridges. The European Commission is working on a publication on Citizenship education at school and we hope that non formal education contributions also will be taken into consideration in the overview of practices presented.

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