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UNESCO and KAICIID Promote Global Citizenship Values in the Arab Region

14 April 2015

Under the joint patronage of Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb and Minister of Education of Egypt H.E Dr. Moheb AL Rafie, KAICIID and UNESCO co-organized a conference on Global Citizenship Education (GCE) in the Arab States in Cairo from 14-15 April 2015.

The conference opened with remarks by H.E. Moheb El Rafie, Minister of Education of Egypt, representatives of Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb of Al Azhar Al Sharif, and Pope Tawadross II of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.  Mr. Fahad Abualnasr, Chief of Staff of KAICIID and Dr. Hamed Al Hammami, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States, also offered opening statements.

Dr Al Hammami said: There's an urgent need for full coordination between religious and educational institutions in order to set the citizenship's human and religious foundation. The role of the Imam and preacher in mosques and churches is no less than the role of the teacher. Therefore, we made sure to bring together all interested parties from religious and educational institutions.

KAICIID Chief of Staff Mr. Fahad Abualnasr “Interreligious and intercultural dialogue skills serve as the corner stone of KAICIID’s approach to education, at the local, regional and global levels.’

During the first day of the Conference, KAICIID Director of Programmes, Dr. Hillary Wiesner spoke of the importance of Global Citizenship Education (GCE) including a plurality of religious perspectives and cultural traditions. “Any discussion of GCE must recognize and address the deeply held religious commitments and perspectives that inform the individual and social lives of the majority people throughout the world, to ignore religion is to ignore over half of humanity.”

A number of issues emerged from the discussion, such as the gap between theory and practice and the need to improve the implementation of existing best practices in the region. The challenges of connecting national concepts of citizenship to global values and issues was also discussed, along with the need to integrate shared values and visions of citizenship inside and outside of the classroom. There was also a call to better define the shared values of GCE and to clarify an agreed definition of the concept.   

In response to the challenge of connecting national and global citizenship, Amb. Dr. Yahya Sergio Pallavicini of ISESCO stated that “global citizenship does not mean ‘Westernization’. It is bridging and building existing human values, opening the vision of what is a global citizen. We have plural identities at different levels and we have to manage these identities in harmony. “

On the second day participants worked in small groups on important themes that emerged from the first day.  Dr. Abdul Salaam Al Joufi, former Minister of Education of Yemen, reporting back from his session stated the rationale for GCE, “There are global issues that require a global response. We are all in one boat, if it sinks, we all sink together.”

All recommendations from the conference will be included in a shared report on GCE produced by UNESCO and KAICIID for ongoing consultation and action.

GCE is one of the strategic areas of work for UNESCO’s Education Programme (2014-2017) and one of the three priorities of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative launched in September 2012. It aims to equip learners of all ages with the values, knowledge and skills to function as responsible global citizens, realize their rights and obligations and promote a better world for all.

The KAICIID Education Programme supports the GCE framework by providing resources, tools and expertise in interreligious education and dialogue. Together with its prominent interreligious and intercultural education programme, KAICIID has been developing E-Learning tools and the KAICIID Online Course for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KOCIID);  that is the first online course on interreligious dialogue that is accredited by a number of universities.