On 11th October a Regional Seminar on ‘The role of education in supporting social inclusion and resilience against radicalisation among youth in Central Asia and the European Union’ took place in Tashkent, organised by CAEP with the support of the Ministry of Higher and Specialised Education Express (MSSHE) of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the EU Delegation to Uzbekistan.
The role of education in preventing and countering violent extremism was identified as a priority for EU cooperation in Central Asia at the Second Meeting for Ministers of Education (MIN) in Astana in 2017, in line with the global commitment to Sustainable Development Goals, in particular to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (SDG 4), and this seminar was organised to contribute to regional policy dialogue on the topic.
Representatives from the MSSHE, the EU Delegation and the Polish and Latvian Embassies joined delegates from Central Asian HE and VET institutions, community and youth associations, as well as, for the first time at a CAEP event, representatives from UNESCO, OSCE and UNICEF – demonstrating the interest in and relevance of CAEP to policy dialogue on education in the region.
The event was opened by the Deputy Minister for Higher and Specialised Secondary Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr. Uzokboy Begimqulov, the Delegation of the EU to Uzbekistan’s Head of Cooperation, François Begeot, and Latvian and Polish Ambassadors, H.E. Mihails Popkovs and H.E. Piotr Iwaszkiewicz. Both the Latvian and Polish ambassadors emphasised the importance of the outcomes achieved by CAEP so far, as well as their ongoing support for the implementation of project activities.
During the morning sessions, representatives from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), UNESCO and the Mahalla Foundation in Uzbekistan shared their approaches to strengthening social inclusion, including Global Citizenship Education, the strengthening of transversal skills and specific teacher training (UNESCO), and the self-governing Mahalla Institution reaching out to families, religious groups and youth.
Mr. Jan Helbich, CAEP Education Expert, also presented a summary of the findings of the recent CAEP review report on the role of education in supporting social inclusion and resilience against radicalisation among youth. He explained the basic concepts of ‘quality education’, ‘social inclusion’ and ‘transition into the labour market’ and discussed how they address the ‘push’ and pull’ drivers of violent extremism. This led to an overview of existing policies and frameworks that promote social inclusion, with some examples of promising initiatives aimed at fostering social inclusion in and through education, and he concluded with a list of recommendations based on the Abu Dhabi Memorandum on Good Practices on Education and Countering Violent Extremism (2015) and Abu Dhabi Plan of Action for Education and Countering Violent Extremism (2016). The full report can be downloaded here (in English, with a summary of findings in Russian).
The afternoon saw parallel workshops tackle the role of non-formal education and community-based approaches, as well how to ensure equitable access, success and quality in both HE and VET. Case studies and examples of good practice were presented by representatives from the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and the EU member states of Poland, Latvia and Romania.
The day concluded with a final discussion and presentation of preliminary recommendations. Participants came to the conclusion that although progress has been made to better address the needs of marginalised groups in education, work is still needed to strengthen the capacity of education systems to reach out to all learners, in particular for those leaving school too early or for parts of the population living in more rural areas and thus not profiting from the same quality education offered in the larger city centres – a phenomenon to be observed both in the EU and in Central Asia.
It was strongly agreed that a continuation of the discussion and exchange of good practice was recommendable, and the event confirmed a high level of engagement and cooperation potential among the participants. It is clear that the key role of educational policies in this area is to ensure that the content of education will strengthen learners’ commitment to non-violence and peaceful behaviour and as well as create an inclusive and safe learning environment, but there is also a common understanding that a coordinated approach is needed: policymakers, teachers, NGOs, private companies, families and parents should work together to identify and implement the most efficient national and local solutions.
The agenda and downloadable presentations can be found on the event page.