On 27 and 28 October 2018, UNESCO, in cooperation with the Arab Institute for Human Rights, UNESCO organized the fifth piloting of the UNESCO Manual on Intercultural Competences based on Human Rights in Tunis, Tunisia.
Building on the previous pilot sessions in Bangkok, Thailand; Harare, Zimbabwe; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Vienna, Austria, the Tunisian pilot provided an additional opportunity to test the manual’s adaptability and effectiveness in different contexts, both from the perspective of facilitation, and with regard to its ability to build individual capacities for intercultural dialogue and understanding.
Over the course of two days, UNESCO led a training of trainers session with educators and representatives of the civil society as well as one pilot session – facilitated by the newly trained local personnel – with over 18 young women and men aged between 13 and 18 years old from the greater metropolitan area of Tunis.
Against the backdrop of the strengthening of democracy and social integration in the sub-region, the methodology proposed in this manual provides an accessible activity based on story-telling to bring people together to reflect upon their differences and challenge their preconceptions. It provides a unique opportunity for participants to improve their capacity for empathy, tolerance, listening and understanding, and therefore reflect on sources of misunderstanding and exclusion.
The pilot sessions included a particular focus on the promotion of social inclusion and participants reported that the activity built their curiosity to learn more about the backgrounds and often difficult personal stories of their peers, as well as building their ability to listen for understanding, a skill that they attributed as being particularly important for group integration.
Indeed, given the serious global challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, learning how to live together is an imperative for advancing sustainable and inclusive development. To this end, learning to be intercultural competent - in other words, having the skills needed to enhance connections and understanding across difference – is essential.
The lessons learnt from this pilot session will inform final adaptions to the manual to maximize its relevance once released, including within the Arab region. It also contributed to building a strong foundation of trained facilitators to help mobilize the manual’s wide dissemination and use following its expected publication at the start of 2019.