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By Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine Staff Writer

Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue is the title that empowers the latest report put forward by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.) Under this title, there are some strategic goals developed by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a self-imposed deadline to be met by 2015. The goals are crafted under the premise of fighting the world’s main development challenges. Targets for the goals were adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of State and Governments during the Millennium Summit in September 2000.

This is a lengthy document, rich in substance and in explicit details. Every goal is fore-grounded in a tacit understanding of social justice guided by the United Nations Fourth Geneva Convention, which recognizes the core and fundamental rights of mankind: Right to an education, right to a good health care, and right to a decent job. 

Of course, this is UNESCO. So, culture plays a pivotal role behind all undertakings. Preaching cross-cultural awareness has always been the cornerstone behind the quest to promote cultural diversity, and this new publication is the second volume in a series of UNESCO dedicated to this end.   According to Francoise Rivière, Assistant Director-General for Culture, this latest volume “seeks to show that acknowledging culture diversity helps to renew the international community’s strategies in a series of areas so as to further its ambitious objectives, with the support and involvement of local populations.”

In intercultural dialogue, which is the main focus of chapter 2 of the report, the emphasis is placed on how to build cultural relationship through dialogue since “human beings relate to one another through society…, [and] all of our actions, thoughts, behavior, attitudes and material or intellectual creations imply a cultural relationship.” So, promoting cultural interactions is the key to not only achieving cross-cultural awareness but also the key to forging intercultural confidence. The aim here is to reach a quintessential understanding. That is, the more we focus on diversity, the better chance we have at reaching our golden means. Deracinating ignorance and waging dialogue would play well in averting wars around the world.

In education, the volume reminds us the “education is never a culturally neutral process.” In other words, education and cultural MUST be intertwined to insure a multicultural education, and the latter MUST be used to assure a forbearance of “a contextual relevance of educational method and content.”Henceforth, multicultural curricula not only will help our youngsters to secure their proper financial, social and cultural objectives, but also they would help to insure “social [and interethnic] cohesion and strong governance” within and among pluralistic societies. Here in chapter 3, the volume does not just focus in education; it also focuses on the quality of the teaching-learning process, the way classroom lesson plans are being delivered, which makes the theoretical framework of this academic plea.

This assertion is even more prevalent and explanatory when describing in strategic terms. Global flows through mass migrations and tourists interactions foster intercultural dialogue. The latter is of strategic importance, especially when it helps countries to better study the complexity of our multi-polar world.

Clear defined goals

The goals are clear in this report. They are 8 of them:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce Child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

As the report confirms, durable, human centered achievement and progress must entail genuine “participation of empowered individuals and communities and reflects their cultural patterns and solidarities.”

Note: This second volume is worth having, and it was published in 2009 by UNESCO Publishing. A copy was forwarded to us by UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

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