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Brussels: Public debate on the role of education in intercultural dialogue

Education and Intercultural Dialogue will be in the spotlight on Wednesday, 1 October for the sixth Brussels Debate of the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The debate entitled "Education - ready for the intercultural challenge?” is organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the European Youth Forum (YFJ). It will take place at 17:30 in the Residence Palace and will be opened by EU Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel'.
Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, will have an exchange with the public together with Professor Jagdish Singh Gundara, UNESCO Chair in Intercultural Studies, Fred van Leeuwen, Secretary General, Education International, Marianne Poncelet, Secretary General, International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation. The theme of this, the sixth Brussels Debate for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008, will be "Education — ready for the intercultural challenge?", and will be an opportunity to look at different perspectives on the roles played by education and cultural identities in intercultural dialogue. One perspective is based on the fact that individuals' national identity plays a fundamental role in framing their personality. In this context, intercultural dialogue is about building effective bridges between these diverse national identities, and Wednesday's debate will explore the role of education in this issue. Of particular interest will be the role of education in promoting fundamental values, such as fundamental freedoms, human rights, or the fight against discrimination. The second perspective is that education helps in developing competences that individuals can pick up and make use of when finding themselves in situations they are not familiar with. These 'intercultural competences' are as useful for a traveller going to a foreign country, for example, as they are for a domestic student who is studying alongside foreign students who have come to study from abroad and who have very different social and cultural backgrounds. The series of Brussels Debates is one of the core activities of the European Year that take place at European level. Five Debates have already been held this year, covering migration and immigration, the role of arts and culture in intercultural dialogue, inter-religious dialogue, active citizenship and intercultural dialogue in the workplace and multilingualism. The last Debate, in November, will address the role of the media in intercultural dialogue. The Debate will take place in the Polak Room at the Residence Palace, 155 Rue de la Loi at 17:30 on 1 October. It will be moderated by Ms Shada Islam, Senior Programme Executive at the European Policy Centre (EPC) and journalist specialising in EU foreign and development policies, immigration and anti-discrimination issues. The debate will be followed by a reception. It is possible to join the debate by sharing views with others from all over Europe on the Brussels Debate Forum in the official website of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue