Wednesday, 25 February 2015

From the EWC: State leaders, civil society representatives and business leaders from 60 countries gathered on 19-20 February at the White House in Washington DC for the summit on Countering Violent Extremism.

The second session of the summit, led by Secretary John Kerry, explored educational approaches that can build resilience against violent extremism. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland was one of the intervenors of the panel discussion and emphasized the need for democratic education.
“We are now defining the skills young people across Europe need to live peacefully in diverse societies. This makes some people sceptical. How can we apply the same criteria to schools in Belfast as in Paris, or Belgrade, or Istanbul? What about the deep cultural differences? But this isn’t about teaching young people what to think. It’s about teaching them how to think,” Jagland said.
The questions the panel discussed included:
  • What recommendations do you have for how educational programs can best be used to counter violent extremism?
  • How can we engage teachers and other opinion leaders in the community to teach youth and adults the value of being open and tolerant?
  • How can civic education equip students with the social and communication skills necessary to address their grievances in positive, nonviolent ways?

In his opening speech president Obama also emphasized the need for preventive measures in all countries and mentioned education as part of this. He also mentioned the need for measures to counter terrorist hate speech and propaganda online:
“We need to do more to help lift up voices of tolerance and peace, especially online”. That’s why the United States is joining, for example, with the UAE to create a new digital communications hub to work with religious and civil society and community leaders to counter terrorist propaganda,” Obama said.

Source: European Wergeland Centre