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UNESCO’s Approach to Diversifying Culture

By Belle Tey, Agence France-Presse

Published: 20 Mar 2019 - 10:59 AM

The UNESCO Assembly discussed the issue of cultural divides in schools. In today’s society, students are segregated based on their race and religion, and many of the students are unwilling to interact with people of different cultural background from them. This social divide hinders the UNESCO from achieving their goal of social cohesion, hence UNESCO is trying to solve this issue.

The UNESCO tackled the issue of cultural divides using two methods. This first method was education and the second method was exchange programmes.

Starting off with education, a large majority of the countries in the UNESCO assembly agreed that education was vital in fostering bonds between students of different races and cultural background. Hence, the discussion was more directed towards how education could be used to promote societal cohesion in school.

A large majority of the countries present suggested that schools should include lessons to educate the students on different ethnic groups, religions and taboos of the respective religions. Throughout the council meeting, the countries explained that educating the students on the different cultures, the students would be more open to socialising with people of different ethnicity, and this would promote interaction between students of different cultural backgrounds. Somalia agreed with this, but pointed out a potential issue. Somalia stated that educational courses would not be feasible in Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDC), as the educational system in these countries cannot afford to hold these course. Somalia also added that the education system in these LEDCs should be improved first, before attempting to promote social cohesion and harmony. The council put a hold on this discussion temporarily and moved on to discuss exchange programmes.

Iran suggested that schools have more learning journeys to cultural sites to aid students in gaining more knowledge on the different cultures. This suggestion was supported by many other countries in the council. Ethiopia followed up on this suggestion, proposing that in addition to more learning journeys, schools can also hold sports meets and overseas exchange programmes with other schools. The motion was supported by the More Economically Developed Countries, but the LEDCs pointed out that they do not have the funds to organise such events. To combat this issue, France suggested requesting funds from UNESCO to sponsor the events and El Salvador appealed to countries like China and France, who had thriving economies, to sponsor the LEDCs so that they can still have these events.

At the end of the discussion, the council did manage to reach a consensus and the resolution was finalised. The final resolution was as follows:

Recommends increasing intercultural and interreligious awareness through shifts towards holistic approaches in education syllabuses and stance, with aims including but not limited to:

Shifts away from academic-centric and grade-focused education culture,

Increasing understanding of students’ own culture, heritage and religion, without disrespecting or disparaging of other cultures and religion, through educational courses and learning journeys,

Promoting the acknowledgement and respect of other cultures and religions so as to decrease divisions and interreligious and interethnic conflict;

Encourages the initiation of spontaneous and active open dialogue and discourse among races and religions aimed at promoting mutual comprehension, respect and amicably diffusing interreligious and intercultural disputes;

Calls for the organisation of more education experts to oversee and edit the circulars and syllabuses for preventing any culturally offenses;

UNESCO working together as one.

UNESCO working together as one.