The educational principles, including diversity education, are administered by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Since 1992, intercultural learning has been anchored in the curricula of the various types of schools, both as a teaching principle and as a general educational objective. Alongside learning about other cultures, the objectives are the promotion of tolerance and the understanding and respect for cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity, the critical analysis of ethno- and Euro-centrism, prejudice, racism and the strengthening of linguistic, cultural and ethnic identity. Beyond this, bilingualism and multilingualism are to be judged positively; children’s knowledge in their mother tongues is to be incorporated in the teaching. Finally, intercultural learning is to be combined with other teaching principles (“political education”).
A lot of projects in schools have focused mainly on gender equality, but due to rising numbers of students with a mother tongue other than German more multilingual offers have been developed. A nationwide school action of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research about interculturality and multilingualism has been carried out since 2005. The aims are quality development for the educational principle of ‘intercultural learning’, sensitisation to multilingualism in schools and society, providing motivation and incentive for teaching German as a second language and for mother-tongue teaching. Participants can be schools of all types and grades. The projects promoted are documented in the ‘multilingual school’ database.
A project to encourage cross-culturalism and multilingualism is the multi lingual rhetoric competition Sag´s multi, initiated by Wirtschaft für Integration and organised together with Educult,an independent, non-profit institute providing empirical research and consulting in the fields of culture and education. Every year, several hundred pupils from Vienna with a migration background participate in this contest. They speak on a subject of their choice and have to convince a jury about their language skills and knowledge of several topics while they mix their mother tongue and German.
For some years, a more diversified concept of diversity education has been applied. For example, a new lesson plan for the mandatory class History and Sociology/Political education in Austrian schools was introduced in 2016, making diversity and cultural understanding a part of the subject.
By decreeing a policy on intercultural education in 2017 (Grundsatzerlass zur interkulturellen Bildung), implementation, content and measures were defined concretely with the goal of strengthening intercultural competencies of both students and teachers, acknowledging and respecting social, cultural and linguistic differences as normality, recognising the contingency of one’s perspective and learning the ways of appreciative dealing with differences and constructive conflict culture without cultural ascription. Such cultural competencies are seen as essential, especially when considering the high number of migrants, for the democratic and social development and to prevent segregating, racist and sexist statements and actions.
KulturKontakt Austria (see chapter 1.4.3) is also active in this field. Projects and educational courses, focused on intercultural educational work, are also provided by the inter-cultural centre (Interkulturelles Zentrum) in Vienna.