Promoting intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace in South-East Asia through Shared Histories

Promoting intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace in South-East Asia through Shared Histories

Shared heritage, shared culture, shared histories should bring us closer together to celebrate our common humanity. Instead, far too often, parochial jingoism leads to conflict over ‘ownership’ of particular cultural legacies.

As an historical crossroads of cultural exchange, present-day South-East Asia is mosaic of unique cultures and communities that have reciprocally influenced each other as well as welcomed contributions from the Indian subcontinent, East Asia and the rest of the world. In many country’s school curricula, however, history is often taught from a narrow nationalistic view.

To remedy that oversight, UNESCO’s Shared Histories project aims to develop and promote innovative teaching and learning materials on the shared histories of South-East Asia from a regional perspective. Multi-national teams of curricular writers have developed and tested four teaching units in seven countries in South-East Asia – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Those teaching units on ‘People and Places’, ‘Early Centers of Power’, ‘Rice and Spice’ and ‘South-East Asia and the World’ have now been introduced in a pilot project involving 19 schools and more than 1,650 students across the seven countries. And the results? On 8-9 October at the a sub-regional meeting in Bangkok, the seven national teams will give presentations on the outcomes of pilot activities, achievements and challenges, as well as proposing possible strategies to further disseminate the teaching modules and complementary materials.

 ‘Cultural diversity is a driving force for social development and economic growth. Of course, cultural diversity is not in itself a factor of peace and progress,’ said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. ‘For this, it requires learning, learning about otherness, the ability to shift focus away from oneself, to dialogue and to recognize the value concealed in each culture.’

Hand-in-hand with the technical meeting, UNESCO Bangkok encourages public engagement with these keys issues of cultural diversity and understanding. Using the hashtag #sharedhistories, the online discussion will explore how these lessons can change perspectives and affect everyday lives.

8-9 October 2018
Compass SkyView Hotel, Sukhumvit 24
Bangkok, Thailand