Democratic values should not be taken for granted, Council of Europe Ministerial meeting concludes

Democratic values should not be taken for granted, Minister of Education and Culture Costas Kadis has said, reading out the Conclusions on behalf of the Cypriot Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of the Ministerial Conference entitled “Securing democracy through education” that wrapped up in Nicosia on Friday.

“Democratic values should not be taken for granted”, he stressed, noting that “we were reminded of this on the first day of our conference through the attack on Parliament in London”.

We stand, he added, “with our British colleagues and friends”.

Noting that “our efforts to secure democracy in our societies are taking place in a dynamic socio- political context”, he said that “many of us feel that the Europe of tolerance is being transformed into a Europe of intolerance. Are we losing our ability to deal and live with diversity?”

Reading out the conclusions, Minister Kadis said that democracy cannot be learnt unless it is practiced and lived and that democracy as a practice should engage students, teachers, parents and the wider society.

“Education cannot provide the answer by itself, but no answer can be given without education”, he pointed out.

He noted that children must be educated to step out of their comfort zone.

This, he said, applies both to the citizens of the receiving countries as well as to the newcomers.

The Minister said that education must prepare students for complexity because that is the reality of our societies, and added that “we need to preserve the autonomy of education and its fundamental purposes.\’

While undertaking measures to counter radicalization, we should maintain the feeling of trust among students, between students and teachers and between the institutions and the local communities he added.

As far as teachers are concerned, he said the development of specific tools which will support them in their daily practice is pivotal.

In the conclusions, reference is made to refugees who need to be given a safe haven in new countries as well as help in adjusting to a new culture and environment.

The Conference in particular examined the role of language in helping integration and the importance for refugees to be able to make good use of their qualifications.

This is essential to individual refugees but it is also important to their host societies and it will be equally important to their home countries if and when they can return the conclusions state.

“We need to work together to tackle common challenges. The establishment of synergies on a regional and international level is more than necessary. The Council of Europe can play a pivotal role in this endeavor, also in setting up a platform to share good practice” it is added.

The Minister said that the Cyprus chairmanship is becoming a starting point for the establishment of such synergies and partnerships.

“We wish to see the Council of Europe take this issue further in its future work. Cyprus is prepared to play a leading role in this direction”, he concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency