Teaching Respect for All tool used to break down biases and promote dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis

Some 200 participants took part in a peacebuilding workshop that brought together Israeli-Jews, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in Israel, to discuss ways of overcoming prejudices and facilitate dialogue using UNESCO’s Teaching Respect for All tools.

Participants included teachers, social workers, school administrators, health professionals including psychologists and psychiatrists, school counsellors, graduate and undergraduate students, and lawyers.  

One of the facilitators at the session in February 2015, Prof. Elbedour, from the Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies at Howard University, said “The use of the Teaching Respect for All materials was instrumental in helping both rival parties (Israelis and Palestinians) understand their psychological barriers, and overcome their deep seated mistrust, fears, victimology, stereotypes and self-defeating policies”. 

Drawing from participants’ experiences, Prof. Elbedour used Teaching Respect for All materials which focus on self-reflection, helping to identify one’s own biases and prevailing forms of discrimination. 

He also discussed recommendations such as how to choose textbooks that support teaching respect and embrace controversial issues; and how to align policies and practices in the classroom and the school, so that they place emphasis on respecting human dignity and human rights, recognizing cultural diversity and integrating a prejudice-reduction component. 

The Teaching Respect for All tools aim to combat discrimination and violence through education as well as within education. They were developed by UNESCO and published in 2014, with the support of the United States and Brazil and in cooperation with a group of international experts. 

The Teaching Respect for All Implementation Guide has been prepared for policy-makers, teachers, educators, school staff, students, parents, and communities. The Guide includes key principles for policy makers, school administrators and NGO managers; and teaching materials for educators (formal and non-formal education). Through a set of specific questions and learning activities, users are also invited to analyze and confront their own biases and are encouraged to reflect upon possible actions to contribute to efforts towards the achievement of respect for all in and through education. 

The Implementation Guide can be adapted to any context based on each country’s needs and background. The guide has been piloted in Brazil; Côte d’Ivoire; Guatemala; Indonesia; Kenya and South Africa.  

The USAID-funded Palestinian-Israeli project is directed by Professor Alean Al-Krenawi, a prominent researcher on conflict resolution, diversity, multiculturalism, and underserved minorities in Israel and Canada as well as Professor Tawfiq Salman, the General Director of the Palestinian Neuropsychiatric Rehabilitation Center of Bethlehem.