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The Observatory on History Teaching in Europe

Resolution 2426 (2022)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 27 January 2022 (8th sitting) (see Doc. 15423, report of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, rapporteur: Mr Bertrand Bouyx). Text adopted by the Assembly on 27 January 2022 (8th sitting).See also Recommendation 2224 (2022).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly emphasises that history education is of key importance in strengthening common values and promoting reflection on history, thereby bringing people together rather than dividing them. Stimulating historical analysis and debate helps young people to acquire a critical understanding of the past in all its complexity and can provide them with answers to, and a critical understanding of, issues faced in the present.
2. On 12 November 2020, the Committee of Ministers established the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe and to date 17 member States have joined. The activities of the observatory focus on producing regular reports on the status of history teaching in the participating member States, publishing thematic reports on specific topics and organising annual conferences and events, thereby offering a knowledge-exchange platform for experts, policy makers and history education professionals.
3. The Assembly welcomes the decision of the Committee of Ministers to establish this new instrument for co-operation, which also gives a timely impetus to the Council of Europe’s long-standing intergovernmental programme on history education. Through synergy, their combined activities can help member States to address the challenges for history education in the 21st century.
4. Over the past few years, the Council of Europe has developed the “Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture” and “Quality history education in the 21st century – Principles and guidelines”, with a set of models and methods to help teachers adapt these tools in the classroom. Together, these tools can inspire and guide young people to develop attitudes of openness to cultural difference, respect and responsibility and particular skills such as autonomous learning, analytical thinking, dialogue and argumentation, including conflict resolution skills, which clearly intersect with the competences that are needed to exercise democratic citizenship in society.
5. The Assembly holds the view that in increasingly diverse societies, it is crucial to learn about cultural, religious and ethnic diversity and interactions in order to avoid a monocultural curriculum. Multiperspectivity is fundamental to understanding different standpoints which often result from a specific historical context. When analysed in the classroom and considered together they create a nuanced and deeper understanding of the historical dimension of any event.
6. Accordingly, the Assembly calls on the member States of the Council of Europe to:
6.1 join the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe and fully benefit from this knowledge-exchange platform for experts, policy makers and history education professionals;
6.2 take an active part in the work of the intergovernmental sector on history education of the Council of Europe Directorate General of Democracy;
6.3 undertake a strategic policy review to incorporate the Council of Europe’s “Quality history education in the 21st century – Principles and guidelines” and “Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture” into their education policies, and in particular:
6.3.1 concerning curriculums and methodologies to: develop flexibility of history curriculums so as to provide teachers with more time and autonomy to move away from knowledge-based teaching towards learner-centred and competence-based education; introduce teaching of the complex history of democracy and develop democratic practices, attitudes and values in the classroom; develop methodologies to stimulate critical thinking by learning to analyse historical sources and make well-informed judgments; develop multiperspectivity in history education to analyse different standpoints that together create the historical dimension of any event; introduce learning about cultural, religious and ethnic diversity and interactions to avoid a monocultural and one-sided curriculum; introduce co-operative learning in small groups and develop interactive pedagogies which acknowledge cultural differences and multiple identities among learners in a class; consider introducing sensitive and controversial issues in order to overcome prejudice and bias; open up a European perspective in history education by identifying historical themes that are common in Europe and that could be considered from similar or different angles;
6.3.2 concerning measures to create a supportive and stimulating environment for teachers and learners to: multiply opportunities for professional exchange and development among teachers and use different teaching resources and guidance – including the Council of Europe principles and guidelines – available in local languages; include competences for democratic culture in teacher education and professional development; bridge the gap between formal and non-formal education by encouraging partnerships with cultural institutions and other relevant partners outside schools (museums, archives, libraries, etc.); encourage the use of digital technologies in history education to promote collaborative learning as well as international co-operation with other schools; guarantee free access to virtual learning environments which give access to open educational resources.
7. While acknowledging the subsidiarity principle and independence of the European Union member States to decide freely on policies in education and history teaching, the Assembly would welcome the participation of the European Union in the activities of the observatory and its support for co-operation programmes and innovative pilot projects for quality history education, in accordance with the observatory’s statutory texts.