By Elarbi Imad
Marrakech – Over 120 educators, experts, media, youth representatives and civil society leaders from 20 countries participated in the second International Conference on Education for Democratic Citizenship on February 4-8 in Marrakech.
The event was organised by the Moroccan Center for Civic Education in partnership with the University of Ottawa and Bishop’s university, Canada, Merryville University in Saint Louis, Missouri and the Center for Civic Education, USA. The event was cosponsored by Calliope, Morocco and mass media partners Morocco World News and Badil.
Under the theme of “The Role of Youth in Promoting Global Citizenship: Opportunities and Challenges,” the conference featured plenary sessions, workshops, roundtables and keynote speeches. During the four days of the conference, participants from Morocco, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Canada, the United States, and other countries had the opportunity to network, share ideas and exchange “best practices” and viewpoints on how to integrate citizenship values and democracy concepts in classroom practices through community projects using innovative and participatory methods and approaches.
Keynote speakers included Dr. Mohammed Melouk, professor at the Faculty of Education at Mohammed V University, Rabat; Dr. Shirley Steinberg, research professor of youth studies at the University of Calgary, Canada; and Dr. Miles Turnbull, Vice President of Bishop’s university, Canada. In his closing remark, Turnbull gave an overview of the conference components with comments and stressed the importance of sustaining such activities to ensure the positive impact of citizenship education on students and communities.
Workshops and discussion groups explored a number of topics and subthemes, including the role of civil society in promoting democracy, civic engagement, education for human rights, the role of higher education and teacher training institutes, developing research and education networks, empowering youth, education for peace, and other areas.
One highlight of the conference was the keynote speech delivered by Dr. Abdellatif El Moudni, Secretary General of the Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research, Rabat. In his keynote speech, Dr. El Moudni drew a road map in regards to the implementation of citizenship education with students and also stressed the importance of the involvement of NGOs and youth in community issues and proposing public policies.
The International Network for Research in Citizenship Education Created
As a result of the conference, the International Network for Research in Citizenship Education was created. This network set up a commission composed of Aicha Lemtouni, Morocco; Chiara Guidetti, Spain; Trevor Gulliver and John Portelli, Canada and Othman Barnaoui, Saudi Arabia to take the lead and work on the mission, goals and structure. The network will be based in Morocco, and Elarbi Imad, President of the Moroccan Center for Civic Education, was selected as the coordinator of this network; his main tasks are research and evaluation of citizenship and democracy education.
The Moroccan Center for Civic Education is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to educate and train younger generations to become responsible, active and effective citizens committed to democratic principles. The Center has been collaborating with national partners such as the Ministry of Education and civil society organisations and international partners to educate Moroccan young people for responsible civic participation. Thousands of young people have participated in curricular programs created or adapted by the Center, including Project Citizen, originally designed by the Center for Civic Education, and a ninth-grade civics curriculum developed in collaboration with Moroccan education authorities and Maryville University.
Today, the Moroccan Center for Civic Education is a regional leader in education for democracy and collaborates with civil society counterparts in countries such as Libya and Tunisia to implement joint programs funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund and others. In the near future, the Center will embark on a new project called “Forming Responsible Citizens – Promoting citizenship education to prevent school violence, particularly against girls and women” approved by the Union for the Mediterranean and will be implemented in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt under the leadership of the Spanish-based organisation “Ideaborn.”
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