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Education must begin to play a robust role as public policy

The UNESCO World report, available online at www.unesco.org, states: 

The founding principles of UNESCO enshrined in its Constitution (1945) are based on the conviction that education is fundamental to addressing the ignorance and the mistrust that are the source of human conflict. Since prejudice is based, among other things, on what we do not know or false preconceptions, facilitating cultural openness through the development of intercultural competencies in schools and out of school is key to fostering intercultural dialogue and winning the fight against a ‘clash of ignorances’.  

It is quite amazing to learn that these founding principles go back to 1945 and yet the world has seen so much tragic cultural strife across the globe since then. 

Education must begin to play a more robust role and not just in pockets of wonderful intercultural education that can be found in all countries today but more specifically as public policy in every country.

In March 2006, UNESCO held a meeting of educational experts. The intent was to look at the issues that arise in increasingly multicultural societies as they relate to culture, identities, education, religion and heritage. The expert panel came up with recommendations based on these three principles:

1. Intercultural education respects the cultural identity of the learner through the provision of culturally appropriate and responsive quality education for all.

2. Intercultural education provides every learner with the cultural knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to achieve active and full participation in society.

3. Intercultural education provides all learners with cultural knowledge, attitudes and skills that enable them to contribute to respect, understanding and solidarity among individuals, ethnic, social, cultural and religious groups and nations.

The section goes on to list some excellent educational strategies to achieve these fundamental principles. 

It might be worth sharing these key sections of this great resource with your local school principals and parent councils.

As parents, grandparents and active, positive members of society and local communities it is important for us all to remember that we have certain civic responsibilities in our great democratic country. 

We fulfil those responsibilities in so many different ways like volunteering in the community or in our schools, playing active and positive roles on parent councils or libraries, sitting on boards, giving time to service organizations, helping in nursing homes, joining respected charitable organizations and helping with our hands. 

All of these avocations are opportunities for intercultural dialogue and education to promote civic harmony between and among diverse people who make up this great country of ours called Canada!


• Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer.

Posted: Feb 3, 2018

May 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

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