UNICEF study provides platform to improve multiculturalism and inter-ethnic relations in education
Skopje, 24 November 2009: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today launched a study on multiculturalism and inter-ethnic relations in education in this country. The report shows that despite a generally solid curricular foundation for the promotion of respect, tolerance and acceptance through the basic education system, ethnically based separation remains an issue in the school setting.
“The study makes clear that there is already a strong policy and legal framework in place to support better inter-ethnic relations in education,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative
“However, there is evidence that interaction between the two largest ethnic groups in the schools remains limited, with each group maintaining deeply entrenched stereotypes of the other,” continued Yett.
The study provides evidence of trends, and confirms that separation is indeed the reality in the surveyed schools. It highlights that there is limited communication between students and teachers of different ethnic groups and that students are missing out on opportunities to come together for curricular and extracurricular activities. When conflicts do occur, schools often lack the capacity for constructive conflict resolution.
According to Vice Prime Minister Abulaqim Ademi, to overcome prejudices, parents and teachers must ensure children are raised in the spirit of tolerance and to respect differences. “If teachers and parents make efforts to direct children towards tolerance and mutual respect, then this will create opportunities to eliminate the reasons that cause prejudice towards the members of different ethnic communities,” said Mr. Ademi.
According to the Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Nikola Todorov, integrated education must be promoted beyond bringing children from different ethnic groups into the same school.
Among other areas, Minister Todorov also noted the need for, “Democratic and decentralised school governance, providing textbooks that are interesting and inclusive, extra-curricular activities, creating an environment of trust, and encouraging open dialog on issues that every one of use face.”
In addition to providing an analysis of students, teachers and school administrators perceptions of ethnic separation in schools, the report’s recommendations provide a platform for action to improve multiculturalism and inter-ethnic relations in primary and secondary education in this country. The recommendations include: developing teacher’s capacities to address the issue, establishing joint extra-curricular activities, greater participation of children and parents and school boards in school decision making and recommendations for inter-municipal cooperation.
The report is based on field research on perceptions among students, teachers and parents in primary and secondary schools in the municipalities of Struga, Kumanovo and Kicevo as well as a review of the relevant laws, policies and curricula.
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