Strengthening intercultural competences among youth important for their future

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) organized, from 2 to 9 February 2024, three two-day interactive training for app. 80 high school students from gymnasiums in Bijelo Polje, Podgorica and Kotor on multiculturalism. The programme, part of the project Bridges of Multiculturalism through Museum Education, is implemented by CCE with financial support from the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights. The aim is to empower intercultural competences among youth, fostering understanding and acceptance of different cultures, traditions, and identities, while also cultivating activism for community engagement.

“It is essential to talk to young people, as our public sphere does not leave them much room to recognize the importance of mutual tolerance and respect for others. Ultimately, they must be educated about intercultural dialogue, because only when they are aware and confronted with their own stereotypes, for which the institutions of this country and family upbringing are responsible, can they be led towards others with genuine understanding and securing the future they must live together”, emphasizes Ervina Dabižinović, a psychologist from the NGO ANIMA – Centre for Women’s and Peace Education, who was one of the lecturers at the workshops.

Nikoleta Đukanović, professor at the University of Donja Gorica and at the workshops lecturer, assesses that “global social challenges impact the education system, causing the need for democratization of education, reforms based on democratic principles, democratic culture, and multicultural values and principles.” Also, Đukanović believes thatit is important to recognize barriers when it comes to the application of multicultural education in secondary schools in Montenegro and to identify recommendations for improving the multicultural approach in the educational system, as well as to discuss the principles of multiculturalism with students both within teaching and extracurricular activities.”

“A certain number of young people are interested in topics related to multiculturalism, but this knowledge and development are hindered in the school system, so they seek answers themselves. Most either do not seek answers or find them in the church, as well as majority of teaching staff who completely ignore this knowledge or NGOs. Teaching staff and leadership in the education system must acquire this knowledge and become aware of the importance of this topic. Their conscious support can lead to changes, and without their involvement our efforts are in vain,” notes Ljupka Kovačević, an activist from the NGO ANIMA – Centre for Women’s and Peace Education and one of the lecturers on the programme.

Tamara Milaš, a human rights activist, believes that working with youth on topics of multiculturalism and interculturalism is a key step towards building a more resilient and inclusive society. “Through trainings, we had the opportunity to strengthen the intercultural competences of young people, and to make them aware of the importance of their role as bearers of social change in a world that is increasingly facing the challenges of extremism and radicalism. The impressions are very positive and inspiring, showing that young people, empowered with the right tools and knowledge, can be the drivers of change. These experiences confirm that investing in the intercultural education of youth is not only beneficial, but also necessary for building a brighter and fairer future for all of us”, she concludes.

Marlena Ivanović, Programme Assistant