16 Nov is International day for Tolerance
The values, attitudes, behaviours and understandings we associate with active tolerance help to maintain peaceful, vibrant, diverse and just societies.
1. What does “tolerance” mean in the context of the universal values of human dignity and diversity?
2. What is the relationship between education and tolerance?
3. How can we promote tolerance through education? – “Teaching Respect for All”
What does TOLERANCE mean?
The UN Declaration of Principles of Tolerance is based on the fundamental principles of the UN as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”. It defines tolerance as:
“Article 1 – Meaning of tolerance
1.1 Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.
1.2 Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. In no circumstance can it be used to justify infringements of these fundamental values. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals, groups and States.
1.3 Tolerance is the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments.
1.4 Consistent with respect for human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one’s convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one’s own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behaviour and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one’s views are not to be imposed on others.
What is the relationship between education and tolerance?
On the relationship between education and tolerance, the Declaration states:
“Article 4 – Education
4.1 Education is the most effective means of preventing intolerance. The first step in tolerance education is to teach people what their shared rights and freedoms are, so that they may be respected, and to promote the will to protect those of others.
4.2 Education for tolerance should be considered an urgent imperative; that is why it is necessary to promote systematic and rational tolerance teaching methods that will address the cultural, social, economic, political and religious sources of intolerance – major roots of violence and exclusion. Education policies and programmes should contribute to development of understanding, solidarity and tolerance among individuals as well as among ethnic, social, cultural, religious and linguistic groups and nations.
4.3 Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people to develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning.”
You can read the complete Declaration of the Principles of Tolerance HERE.
How can we promote tolerance through education?
The UNESCO guide for schools and teachers – “Teaching Respect for All”– An implementation Guide to stop discrimination in and through education- lists FIVE KEY COMPETENCIES that are the focus of education for tolerance:
“Certain key competencies should be the focus of learning:
Interpersonal relationship skills. Pupils have the confidence to get on with others; they see good in others and can empathize with other points of view. Critical and creative thinking skills are developed within the curriculum and empower pupils to develop research and problem-solving skills as they learn to think differently.
Self-confidence & awareness. Confidence in personal identity and positive self-esteem are developed through teacher modelling, active learning, circle time and interactive games, encouraging pupils to take responsibility. Self-confidence also increases as students learn their background has value and can be valued.
Conflict-resolution skills development. Pupils are helped to develop the language and skills to voice and explain their feelings of injustice and to listen to and respect the views of others. Pupils have the opportunity to attend school councils, and to debate in class and clubs which have power to influence positive change.
Critical thinking. Stereotypes and negative attitudes develop out of ignorance. Pupils confronted with multi-culturalism and exposure to people with different backgrounds learn to question social stereotypes and norms. Through thought-based activities in class, readings, debate and discussion, pupils learn to think about the reality around them and question it.
Advocacy. Pupils acquire the skills to advocate for respect and fight against discrimination. Pupils who interact with others and learn to empathize with their struggles develop knowledge of social injustices. Through debates, class activities and learn to think about the reality around them and question it. (156)
“Teaching Respect for All” includes a collection of tools to support a whole school approach to non-discrimination in education as well as teaching and learning resources (including classroom activities) for educators.
“By creating an environment and instructional system based on the 8
principles of anti-racism, teachers can allow pupils to actively engage with these difficult concepts in a safe space, creating a respectful classroom. By creating an environment which fights to counteract discrimination in education, you as teachers are also providing opportunities for pupils to learn how to counteract discrimination through education.” (130)
What are the eight principles of anti-racism?
(Check page 62/94/130 of “Teaching Respect for All” to find the answer)