Franseza Pardoe’s World Forum for Democracy report: “Can effective education help combat radicalism?”

What can education do today to develop “competence” in people to ensure they remain free whilst supporting democracies in their societies?

What is the role of education in developing democratic societies?

These were the main questions dominating the lab on intercultural responses to the debate “freedom vs control”.

Pascale Mompoint-Gaillard, a French psychologist, claims that before “competence” can be highlighted and developed however, the behaviours, attitudes, and values of citizens and societies at large should be carefully scrutinized.

She qualified as competence, the “capacity to mobilise and roll out attitudes, know-how and knowledge in a given context.”

With this as the premise, a project called the “Pestalozzi Programme” was launched in 2013 with the aim of helping teachers better “use tools in education planning” to successfully develop “competence.”

More than 100 different models have been deconstructed for that purpose and elements of consensus identified. This educational programme is meant to help teachers and educators in their mission to deliver students with the means and understanding of notions such as human rights; democracy and interculturalism.

In a different context, Pacifique Ndayishimiye (the second presenter), initiated a project in Rwanda (called the Youth Service Organization) to bring diverse groups together through traditional dances and to encourage them to cooperate. Dances and other cultural gatherings are meant he says to “promote intercultural dialogue” and weekly event “attract on average 50 people aged 8-25.”

Ndayishimiye stated that the project aims at “giving young people the skill and capacity to teach others and to share messages of peaceful coexistence.” If attempts at bridging cultural gaps in society are generally seen as positive, questions still remained. Notably, Mompoint-Gaillard asked “to what extent is it possible to institutionalise the process of dialogue?” Institutional framework she said “might not solve the problem. The solution is ours, on an individual level.”

Amina Bouayach the Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights, inquired whether “religions and traditions can come in the way of conflict resolution, or if they can be part of the resolution?”

She also added that fruitful intercultural dialogue required a “complementary framework between institutional approaches and non-institutional approaches” and insisted that successful intercultural dialogue was “not about forcing people to adhere to a given view, but to learn to make different viewpoints coexist and where common features may emerge.”

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