CDRSEE Executive Director Zvezdana Kovač took part in an influential conference on the role of education in preventing conflict, one of the foundations of the CDRSEE, as part of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the OSCE's The Hague Recommendations Regarding the Education Rights of National Minorities.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) organised in The Hague a two-day event on April 20-21, which opened with introductory words by Ms Astrid Thors, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, as well as OSCE's Special Representative, Mr. Gernot Erler.
As the aim of the conference was to emphasize the role of education in preventing conflict, the event brought together government representatives, teachers, education professionals and non-governmental actors amongst them. Ms Kovač was an active participant, as the CDRSEE has played a major role in this area with its Joint History Project history education programme, and it continues to expand. She discussed the Joint History Project, and the Serbian Minister of Education, Mr Srđan Verbić, praised the JHP workbooks. He said, "We all should follow this example and start working on joint textbooks!" This was a great honour for the CDRSEE. In fact, the JHP was praised by everyone at the conference as innovative educational material.
Ms Thors highlighted the importance of avoiding repetition, as the European history has been marked by conflicts in the past. She talked on the important role of education in preventing conflict and on the promotion and management of diversity, how state education budgets are more retroactive than proactive and how education is often forgotten in peace agreements. With that in mind, she discussed ways that education should be added to mediation processes.
Mr Erler spoke of national minorities and the ongoing need to build bridges. He mentioned Germany and Finland as examples, after conflicts in recent decades.
On the second and final day, Ms Inga Niehaus, Research Coordinator of the Georg Eckert Institute, said that even where there is a multi-perspective approach built into curricula, but textbooks don't reflect that (or vice versa at time). She
also recommended that the heritage of Islam in Europe should be given more attention, as the textbooks tend to emphasise incompatibility with Islam.