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Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO & ODIHR host workshop to strengthen the capacity of policy-makers to address antisemitism through education

27 May 2019

UNESCO and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) held a two-day workshop for policymakers to identify measures government officials can take to address antisemitism and other forms of discrimination in and through education, in Warsaw, Poland on 21 and 22 May 2019.

The workshop brought together 28 senior government officers from 18 countries, who discussed innovative educational approaches and practices, as well as the domestic application of recommendations and good practices from the joint 2018 UNESCO/ODIHR publication ‘Addressing Anti-Semitism through Education – Guidelines for Policymakers’.

During the opening session, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of ODIHR, noted that "This is an excellent opportunity for us to identify new ways of addressing an old problem, and thus assist participating States in meeting their commitments to address anti-Semitism across the OSCE region. Anti-Semitic slurs and stereotypes have an enormously negative impact on the lives of Jewish people and entire societies. By focusing on education, we are helping to fight anti-Semitism not only in the present, but also in the future."

Karel Fracapane, Senior Project Officer and coordinator of the project at UNESCO said: “The rise of antisemitism is a symptom reflecting deep problems within societies, with economic, social and political drivers. It feeds conspiracy theories, hate speech and violent extremist ideologies that have destructive impact globally, regardless of the presence of a Jewish population. Promoting education to build the resilience of young people against such narratives and all forms of intolerance and discrimination is therefore both an immediate security imperative and a long-term educational obligation.”

The workshop included sessions conducted by representatives of the CELL Foundation (Conflict, Education and Learning Laboratory), the Institute for Education of the University College London, and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The event was followed by a panel discussion on “Different Approaches to Promoting Tolerance through Education” hosted by Warsaw’s Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute. Among the participants of the workshop were representatives of governmental institutions in charge of education, teacher training and curriculum development from Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey.

The workshop in Warsaw was the first of a series of international capacity building workshops organized by UNESCO in cooperation with ODIHR and the World Jewish Congress. A second workshop will take place on 10 and 11 July 2019 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

UNESCO is strongly committed to the prevention of antisemitism as part of the Organization’s global programmes on preventing violent extremism through education (PVE-E) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED). In this context, UNESCO promotes education systems that address antisemitism in and through education and build the resilience of young people to extremist ideologies and prejudice. In support of this goal, UNESCO builds the capacities of education policymakers and teachers though guidelines, targeted trainings and the development of educational materials.