Euromed: work continues on handbook on cultural diversity

Convention proposes changes to draft text

10 June, 14:27

    (by Rodolfo Calo') (ANSAmed) - ALEXANDRIA (EGYPT), JUNE 10 - The draft ''Handbook on Intercultural Citizenship Education in the EuroMediterranean region'' currently being discussed by 30 experts at a two-day event in Alexandria, Egypt, vies to be a textbook for teachers and educators who will instruct youths to respect cultural diversity and become active citizens. The draft text being discussed by specialists in education and cultural training from 24 countries who are gathered for the ''Third Alexandria Education Convention'' will go through changes in the coming months to make it a more effective tool and to promote future initiatives including a website and training courses.

    The handbook has been drafted by eight experts over two years at the initiative of two previous Conventions in Alexandria, a symbol of Mediterranean culture. The initiative is organized by the Anna Lindh Foundation (Alf), an intergovernmental institution of 42 countries gathering civil society representatives from the Mediterranean to foster reciprocal understanding and trust.

    The book's aim is to help teachers form youths who are active in their communities and who respect and understand people from different cultures. It is an ''informal educational tool'' used by associations and other institutions as well as ''formal'' operators like schools, as stressed by the convention's participants.

    Co-author Miquel Essomba from the university of Barcelona said it is an ''instrument for those who are already aware of these issues and wish to have theoretical and practical instruments to train in particular the young''. ''Educators who want to use it will have an active role'', explained Essomba, stressing the flexible nature of the publication, expected in the fall.

    A source of inspiration for educators interested in ''intercultural citizenship'' are so-called ''success stories'' - examples in which training was effective - and ''exercises'' which teachers can give to their pupils.

    Given the ambitious objectives, drafting the text has been a complex effort: the convention has, among other things, required a more user-friendly approach for educators who need to use the handbook. Also, a more in-depth regard to avoid ''stereotypes'', for example in the chapter on ''diversity'', was also requested.

    Difficult choices specialists needed to confront included whether to list specific failures in reciprocal understanding in the Mediterranean and whether to confront issues on the discrimination of Roma people.

    One of the proposals to make the book more user-friendly was to include a glossary, photos and even cartoons to give its elements more visibility, though the manual is aimed at teachers and not youths.

    Regardless of future changes which could be made in the final draft based on indications from the convention, the handbook will be integrated with a website to make it more visible.

    The convention also discussed courses in ''intercultural citizenship'' based on the manual and aimed at both teachers and the young to further promote this concept which vies to unite the two shores of the Mediterranean thanks to the active role played by youths in society.(ANSAmed)
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