The CDESR Bureau supports the Parliamentary Assembly’s assertion of the importance of promoting a culture of democracy and human rights through teacher education.
For many years the CDESR has been involved in promoting democracy and human rights education. Starting from the project “Universities as sites of democratic citizenship”, the CDESR has been consistently involved in projects supporting human rights education and democratic citizenship. In 2008, it launched a new project “Promoting democratic culture and intercultural dialogue in Higher Education”.
At the October 2008 Forum on “Converging competences: Diversity, Higher Education and sustainable democracy”, organised by the Council of Europe in co-operation with the US Steering Committee of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy, over 100 higher education leaders and representatives of public authorities participants underlined the important role of higher education in developing and maintaining societies based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The CDESR strongly supports the initiative of the Norwegian authorities to establish a European Resource Centre on Education for Intercultural Understanding, Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship and is pleased that the European Wergeland Centre is now organising its first activities.
It also took part in the development of the Council of Europe framework policy document on education for democratic citizenship and human rights. At its 2007 plenary session, the CDESR welcomed the idea of a framework policy document on EDC and HRE and expressed its support for a framework policy document of a non-binding nature in order to respect the underlying principles of institutional autonomy and academic freedom.
The CDESR Bureau recognises that teachers and other educational staff are important actors in promoting the culture of human rights and democracy. It is important that the competences required for promoting the culture of democracy and human rights in the classroom should be introduced in the curriculum for the education of teachers of all subjects. However, with due respect to the principle of institutional autonomy, it would be more appropriate to speak about public authorities encouraging higher education institutions to introduce the above-mentioned elements. Academic freedom and institutional autonomy are among the founding principles of European higher education, and these principles should be observed even when there are strong reasons for public authorities to encourage higher education institutions to take up a particular challenge.
It is also important to have a holistic approach. As was recommended at the October Forum, higher education institutions should strive to reflect the principles and practice of democracy, diversity and human rights in their approaches to teaching and learning and in their structures and decision-making procedures, as well as in all aspects of the institution’s daily life. At the same time, public authorities should provide support and incentives for programmes and initiatives on issues of democracy, diversity, human rights and social cohesion, as well as integrate social and civil competences in the development of frameworks for qualifications.
The Bureau of the Steering Committee for Education (CDED):
Having taken note with great interest of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1849 (2008) – “For the promotion of a culture of democracy and human rights through teacher education”;
Welcomes the support shown by the Parliamentary Assembly for the work being carried out in the field of teacher education, which has been one of the priorities of the CDED’s intergovernmental activities for some years now;
Points out that the Wergeland European Centre in Oslo was inaugurated on 29 May 2009. The centre, which was established in co-operation with the Norwegian Government, is open to all Council of Europe member states and the main target groups are teachers, teacher trainers and those responsible for devising policies in the field of education for intercultural understanding, human rights and democratic citizenship. Refers to paragraph 5.2 and informs the Committee of Ministers that the CDED has introduced several activities closely linked to the recommendation, including a new publication, which makes explicit reference to Recommendation 1849 (2008) in its introduction. The publicationNote “How all teachers can support citizenship and human rights education: a framework for the development of competences” sets out the core competences needed by teachers to put democratic citizenship and human rights into practice in the classroom, throughout the school and in the wider community. It is intended for all teachers and teacher trainers working in education institutions, both in pre- and in-service training.
Refers to paragraph 6.2 and informs the Committee of Ministers that, in the context of its Pestalozzi programme for education professionals, the above-mentioned handbook will continue to be developed in 2009 through training modules on the core competences in education for democratic citizenship. It has been translated into Albanian, Serb and Georgian and is currently being translated into French and Russian and other languages.
Underlines, in respect of the recommendations set out in paragraph 6.3, the fact that, at the initiative of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR), four partner organisations – the Council of Europe (CoE), the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) – decided to devise a practical tool for providing examples and advice for all those involved in human rights education in the European school system. The outcome – a compendium of 101 good practices in Europe, North America and Central Asia – is not only a resource document for practitioners and policy-makers but also a platform for exchange between institutions and individuals. The compendium was officially launched at the OSCE/ODIHR meeting on the implementation of the Human Dimension in Warsaw on 2 October 2009. This document makes explicit reference to Recommendation 1849 (2008) of the Parliamentary Assembly.
Welcomes the support given by the Parliamentary Assembly to paragraph 6.4 and informs the Committee of Ministers that good progress has been made in 2009 in the preparations for the drafting of a European Charter on education for democratic citizenship and human rights and that the CDED will be in a position to approve it in February 2010.
The CDEJ and CCJ fully support the Parliamentary Assembly's Recommendation 1849 (2008) – “For the promotion of a culture of democracy and human rights through teacher education” and would like to underline that, in parallel to formal education, the Council of Europe is also using non-formal education as a powerful tool for human rights and democratic citizenship education of young people, particularly by the means of the European Youth centres and European Youth Foundation (EYF).