UNICEF supported multicultural workshops encourage tolerance and communication among children from different ethnic groups
SKOPJE, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, January 28, 2011 - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), together with the Bureau for Development of Education and the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution promoted a series of multicultural workshops for elementary and secondary schools during a two-day conference on multiculturalism and child participation. The workshops were developed as part of UNICEF’s ongoing support to enhance inter-ethnic dialogue and cooperation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
“In order for children to fully appreciate the value and richness of multiculturalism, tolerance and respect for differences must to be nurtured throughout the child's development. Tailored to different age groups, these multicultural workshops use play and interaction enabling children from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds to learn about and appreciate each other’s differences," said Nora Sabani, UNICEF Education Specialist.
Summarized in a manual ("A Selection of Multicultural Workshops for Primary and Secondary Schools"), some sixty workshops were developed and piloted in seven elementary and five secondary schools in various municipalities. The main purpose of the workshops is to encourage communication, respect and cooperation among children, and to offer a model for multicultural extracuricular activities with mainstreaming potential to all schools in the country.
“The pilot schools implemented the workshops and managed to trigger great interest and participation among students and teachers. We hope these will be used in the same spirit by all schools in the country, to promote respect, tolerance and cooperation through democratic participation,” said Violeta Petrovska – Beska, Director of the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution.
During the two day conference, a research team from the Queen’s University from Belfast, Northern Ireland also shared their experiences in developing multicultural education programmes. The research team is currently in country on a mission to assess capacity building needs which will be used to develop programmes that will be rolled out in the spring of 2011
“The concept promoted today has huge potential in creating opportunities to overcome prejudice attitudes among those outside students’ own communities - but it requires resources and commitment at all levels, including school communities and politicians“, said Ms Joanne Hughes, Director of Research, Queen’s University
The workshops and the conference on multiculturalism and participation are supported by UNICEF as part of the UN Joint Programme on "Enhancing inter-ethnic dialogue and cooperation". The joint programme is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNICEF in partnership with the Secretariat of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The programme is designed to promote tolerance and respect for ethnic and cultural diversity, and is funded by the Spanish Government through the MDG Achievement Fund.
As part of the joint UN Programme, UNICEF has also recently supported the Bureau for Development of Education to develop criteria for the review of textbooks to ensure that they are consistent with guidelines on the promotion of cultural and ethnic diversity.
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Suzie Pappas Capovska