VIENNA, 11 December 2014.
On 10 and 11 December 2014, KAICIID organized a working meeting of education experts and policy advisers to share methods and tools supporting good practice in interreligious education – learning about religions and cultures that are not one’s own.
At the meeting, experts identified intercultural competencies and citizenship skills developed through diverse models and disciplines of study. They shared different national practices in curriculum development and evaluation, teacher training and professional development, student assessment and lifelong learning. They also planned cooperation in disseminating policy-relevant research across diverse national contexts. “Both experts and policymakers were highly interested in research and practice coming from other regions. They agreed there was much worth sharing across borders,” said Dr. Hillary Wiesner, Director of Programmes at KAICIID.
The meeting represented the four regions of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with participants coming from India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Norway, Kenya, South Africa, and Spain. It fostered cooperation among professionals while creating a new network for more open and international communication in this field. In cooperation with ISESCO, UNESCO, Adyan and other partners, further meetings will take place in January, March, April and May 2015, along with the development of an education resource tool prototype.
This working meeting constitutes continued implementation of recommendations that were developed through regional consultations during 2013 in the frame of KAICIID’s “Image of the Other: Education” programme. Four regional conferences were followed by a KAICIID Global Forum on Interreligious and Intercultural Education in 2013, where two main recommendations were developed: to establish a “sustained dialogue” professional development network, and to construct a resource tool supporting education planners active in the field of interreligious and intercultural education.
As a result of this working meeting, KAICIID’s Interreligious and Intercultural Education Programme will continue developing its three strands: a policy strand, an intellectual strand, and a practical strand. The meeting opened lines of communication between policymakers and experts to better address the interreligious aspect of education and the accommodation of religious and cultural diversity.
An important aspect of facilitating successful interreligious and intercultural dialogue is learning about other cultures and religions in the classroom and through student exchange. When students understand their peers from around the globe in a more accurate light, conditions for dialogue and social cohesion improve. This goal was reaffirmed during the KAICIID Special Conference, United Against Violence in the Name of Religion (18-19 November 2014), which called for more emphasis on interreligious and intercultural education with respect to the current situation Iraq and Syria. At that conference, religious leaders reaffirmed their commitment to religious education curriculum review as a means of facilitating interreligious and intercultural dialogue, especially in this region. Their recommendations included the evaluation of curricula from primary and secondary levels to counteract prejudice within those interconnected societies affected by the conflict.