Intercultural education was one of the starting points of a process to define the “end terms” / final objectives of an intercultural policy in Flanders. These end terms, which are minimal targets to be met by each pupil, generally focus on dealing with other cultures and their representatives in a respectful way, in a society which is irrevocably intercultural. The objective is to facilitate the recognition and appreciation of diversity.
Intercultural education is an important starting point, both within the Ministries of Culture and Education. Both departments pay equal attention to this matter, often in consultation with each other. On the regional and local level, intercultural education is a requirement of the provincial and municipal laws and regulations.
On an educational level, intercultural aspects are mostly found in the so-called Cross-subject End Terms / final objectives (a minimal set or targets) mentioned above. These minimal target areas are not specifically subsumed under a subject area, but rather they are spread throughout several courses or educational projects, like music-creative education. These cannot be treated in general terms, however, since each school is free to choose how it addresses cross-subject end terms.
Several examples of (cross-subject) end terms:
- pupils are able to show tolerance with regards to differences in gender, colour and ethnicity. (First level secondary education: sense of public responsibility development);
- pupils are able to express their personal opinion on visual creations from various cultures (First degree secondary education: visual arts education);
- pupils are able to elaborate on human rights, using examples from the human rights charters, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Third degree Secondary Education: sense of public responsibility development);
- pupils are able to demonstrate, with a couple of examples, that the global dimension in our society is becoming more and more explicit, among others on a political, economic and cultural level, and that this evolution comes has several advantages, and at the same time causes conflicts (Third degree secondary education: sense of public responsibility development);
- pupils are able to take into account, in the way they deal with peers, that not all children live in the same type of family as their own, using appropriate discretion (Basic education: World orientation);
- pupils are able to illustrate that various social and cultural groups have other values and norms (Basic education: World orientation);
- pupils are able to put elementary notions, with regards to population, including cultural aspects, into words, and read the population data in question from maps and charts (First degree secondary education: Geography);
- pupils learn how to be respective of the singularity and specific lifestyle of people from other cultures, also in our own multicultural society (First degree secondary education: Geography); and
- pupils explore musical-creative expressions, such as music, theatre, literature, dance, painting and architecture, design, interiors, fashion and clothing, implements etc. as elements which play a role in the definition of the cultural image of a community: as a status symbol, as an expression of a personal aesthetic taste or as a functional element (Second degree secondary education: musical-creative development).
Within the compulsory educational system, the Education Department pays specific attention to projects in school surrounding intercultural education through information and financial support. In this way, art and music schools receive additional financial support to work specifically around this objective. Apart from this, various experimental projects are set up and supported by the cultural cell of the Department of Education, CANON Cultuurcel (see www.cultuurkuur.be). On the federal level, schools can also request project support through Kleur Bekennen (see http://www.kleurbekennen.be).
The programme on “Part-time Artistic Education (DKO: Deeltijds Kunstonderwijs)” is constantly adapting to the changing learning needs. Through temporary projects, alternative training or working methods are tested for a period of time, in order to innovate and augment the range of educational courses offered.
French-speaking Community of Belgium
In 2007, the French-speaking Community of Belgium first proposed supporting intercultural education initiatives via a call for projects pursuant to Article 6 of the Missions Decree, namely to prepare all students to be responsible citizens able to contribute to the development of a democratic society based on solidarity and pluralism and open to other cultures.
The prime objectives behind this call for projects are:
- to get students involved in cultural diversity education actions;
- to combat racism and stereotypes;
- to provide education in citizenship; and
- to develop ‘better coexistence’.
It therefore invites schools to value, develop or imagine an intercultural dimension in the framework of their lessons.
It is clear that their approach to continuing education makes youth associations preferred partners, since they are working on these various aspects as part of their missions (see below).