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Intercultural Education and Religious Diversity

Council of Europe Project on ‘The New Challenge of Intercultural Education: Religious Diversity and Dialogue in Europe'

Professor Robert Jackson has been commissioned by the Council of Europe and the European Wergeland Centre to write a ‘roadmap’ advising policymakers, schools and teacher trainers across the 47 states of the Council of Europe on how to apply the recommendation from the committee of ministers on teaching about religions and beliefs to their own national and regional situations (see below). Prof Jackson is engaging in consultative meetings in various member countries of the Council of Europe, and is also consulting European professional organisations. He also has available the data from a questionnaire sent to members of the Council of Europe education committee on issues raised by the recommendation in individual states. The first draft of the roadmap is expected by summer 2013.

Professor Robert Jackson has been a key contributor to this Council of Europe project since it was launched in 2002. The project aims to raise the awareness of decision-makers, educators and teachers about the implications of the religious dimension of intercultural education. It also seeks to draw their attention to examples of positive experiences and of new methods and approaches in intercultural education.

Experts in religious and intercultural education from different parts of Europe met in Paris in June 2003 in order to identify the key issues in relation to religious diversity and the religious dimension of intercultural education, to tease out the implications of these issues for pedagogy and to make policy recommendations for the Education Ministers’ conference on intercultural education to be held in Athens in November 2003. The 2003 Athens Conference of the European Ministers of Education endorsed the project and also recognised its significance in promoting dialogue beyond Europe.

Issues related to the project were discussed at a high profile conference on ‘The religious dimension of intercultural education’, held in Oslo in June 2004. Participants included educational decision-makers from most member states and from observer states, education professionals and representatives of civil society involved in intercultural education. Professor Jackson’s presentations are included in the conference book (Council of Europe 2004).

Professor Jackson was a member of a team of specialists in religious and intercultural education who worked together to produce a guide for teachers, teacher trainers, administrators and policy makers to deal with the issue of religious diversity in Europe’s schools (Keast 2007).

Professor Jackson was a member of the team brought together to draft a recommendation on behalf of the Committee of Ministers (the Foreign Ministers of the 47 Member States) on the management of religious and ‘convictional’ diversity in schools, based on the project’s approach, and incorporating ideas from the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue (Council of Europe 2008). The Ministerial recommendation was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in December 2008, and provides a set of principles that can be used by all member states. The recommendation can be used as a tool in discussing policy in fields including religious education and citizenship education. Click here(Word Document) to read the full text of the recommendation. The document is also available at: https://wcd.coe.int//ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CM/Rec(2008)12&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&BackColorInternet=DBDCF2&BackColorIntranet=FDC864&BackColorLogged=FDC864 The most relevant sections of the text are in the appendix. As indicated above, Professor Jackson, on behalf of the Council of Europe, is now writing the text of a roadmap for use by member states in implementing the recommendation.

References

Council of Europe, ed. 2004. The religious dimension of intercultural education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Council of Europe. 2008. White paper on intercultural dialogue: ‘Living together as equals with dignity’. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Keast, J., ed. 2007. Religious diversity and intercultural education: A reference book for schools. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Council of Europe publications are available from the Publishing Division, Palais de l'Europe F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex: E-mail: publishing@coe.int