Teaching on the wartime past issues to suppress radicalism and extremism among youth

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) today sent to the Ministry of Education an Initiative to improve the teaching process related to contemporary national and regional history with a focus on sensitive, controversial or insufficiently researched and represented issues, which also proposes the inclusion of supporting teaching material developed by the CCE through several of its projects.

This material refers to 25 video lessons for teaching history and the social group of subjects, available in Montenegrin and Albanian languages, developed by the CCE within the project Teaching history in COVID-19 pandemic – equal opportunity for all”, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office through the German Embassy in Montenegro, as well as the publication “Teaching Controversial History for Responsible Education – 15 Workshops”, created within the Regional War Crimes Project (RWC), implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with the support of the UK Government.

CCE reminds that, although lessons about the period 1991-2001 are present in our educational system for more than a decade, researches conducted with high school graduates, but also teachers, indicate that these topics are either not taught or only basic information is taught. This was the driving force for the CCE to create accessible teaching tools that could engage teachers more to deal with these issues, but also to submit this initiative to the competent Ministry.

These teaching materials were developed in cooperation with professors of history and social groups of subjects to provide them with easier access to lectures on these topics, but also students with easier access to scientifically founded and methodologically aligned information. CCE believes that only through critical perception of controversial and sensitive issues from our past, in addition to knowledge, students’ analytical skills can be improved. The production of these materials was done in consultation with the teaching staff, followed by trainings that resulted in their final version, as well as strengthened staff for their teaching.

CCE continuously points to deficiencies in the education system when it comes to education related to the issues of contemporary regional and national history. One of the consequences is the wave of non-scientific revisionist interpretations of events related to the period of the 90s of the last century, through non-institutional sources of knowledge, which include family, media, religious organizations, social media, etc. Numerous examples indicate that the new generations of the Montenegrin education system do not have a realistic perception of everything that happened in the 90s of the last century, and with the strengthening of manipulation and disinformation mechanisms, this contributes to radicalism and extremism among young people, as well as the wider community.

Thus, in recent years we have also witnessed unpleasant events in certain Montenegrin municipalities, whose actors are precisely young people, and which have nationalist expressions and outbursts of hatred towards those who differ from them, the devastation of cultural and historical assets, hate speech due to political and ideological differences, etc. This is also one of the consequences of systemic oblivion and the absence of building a culture of peace accompanied by the strengthening of radicalism and extremism – which is disturbing and requires a serious and systemic response of institutions, starting with the educational system. Therefore, ignoring or inadequate treatment of these issues within the educational system threatens to strengthen controversies about the citizens of Montenegro, and thus lead to a broader challenge of the civic and European concept of Montenegro.

CCE believes that the proposed Initiative contributes to strengthening the role of the educational system and promoting the culture of human rights and dialogue, based on democratic values whose indispensable part is an adequate confrontation with the past. Moreover, if implemented, the CCE considers that this Initiative would introduce several preventive mechanisms against radical beliefs and the emergence of violent extremism, addressing young people through more modern and to them more attractive forms of education, focusing on the development of knowledge and abilities of students of all ages with encouragement to form attitudes without prejudice or emotion.

Tamara Milaš, Human Rights Programme Coordinator