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    ISESCO-CELL meeting on cooperation promotion in education issues

    15 January 2020

    The permanent headquarters of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) in Rabat, today, hosted a coordination meeting on “ways to address divisive stereotypes in curricula” between ISESCO and the Conflict and Education Learning Laboratory (CELL), a foundation specialized in education in conflict zones.

    Co-moderated by Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ISESCO Director General, and Dr. Jo Ritzen, Chairperson of CELL Foundation and former education minister of the Netherlands, the meeting was attended by ISESCO’s directors and experts along with Mr. Atif Rizvi, CEO and co-founder of CELL; and Ms. Ayla Bonfiglio, CELL Executive Director and Regional Coordinator for North Africa of the Mixed Migration Center.

    The meeting opened with a welcoming address by Dr. AlMalik wherein he talked about the expertise of the Foundation in the field of education in conflict zones and the importance it attaches to the theme of the meeting. Afterwards, Dr. Ritzen took the floor thanking ISESCO and its Director General for his invitation to the meeting. He pointed out that the theme of the meeting is of great importance as divisive stereotypes in textbooks, curricula and the media have damaging effects on children and the youth because they shape their minds, history and identity.

    Moreover, Dr. Ritzen stated that the general objectives of CELL and ISESCO converge in this regard. Thanks to its presence all over the Islamic world, ISESCO provides a cumulated knowledge-based activity made up of practices and partnerships with different education institutions and research on textbooks, curricula and information materials.

    Through its research and creative “Info Hive” platform, Mr. Ritzen added, CELL presents a golden opportunity for participation and promotion of cooperation between experts, researchers, decision-makers, practitioners, teachers and the public to accumulate knowledge and raise awareness about the ways in which divisive stereotypes lead to extremism, conflict, violence and violation of the rights of children, youth, women and disadvantaged groups, including refugees and ethnic minorities in ISESCO Member States.

    For his part, Mr. Rizvi pointed out that the staff and experts working in the fields of education and conflict alleviation have long realized that revising textbooks can largely contribute to changing, jointly or individually and at the institutional level, the minds of children and the youth. In this regard, he underscored that textbooks can promote the respect for the diversity of beliefs; encourage mutual understanding and critical thinking to address prejudices; and promote wellbeing.

    Afterwards, Ms. Bonfiglio made a presentation on the “Info Hive” Platform, a project initiated by CELL and will be soon accessible to the public, stressing that it is a tool designed to catalyze a worldwide change of the approaches to the issues of education, health, wellbeing and conflict.

    In the same vein, Ms. Bonfiglio stated that the Foundation chose to design the “Info Hive” in the form of a smartphone application, out of its belief in the principle of democratization, as that the largest possible number of users can access these applications, hence they are the most fit to achieve this principle.

    As soon as the presentation ended, the floor was opened for discussion between ISESCO’s experts and CELL during which the two parts agreed on the importance to promote and develop cooperation since the theme of the Meeting is of paramount importance, given the exacerbating issues of political and military, migration and asylum.

    At the close of the Meeting, the two parties agreed to continue coordination for further cooperation and give effect to joint action in the “Info Hive” Project. To this effect, Dr. Ritzen requested Dr. AlMalik to engage ISESCO’s experts in developing the Platform to launch it within a year. Similarly, CELL requested ISESCO to invite education experts in its Member States to contribute to the Project.

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