Building Tolerant Societies

30 April 2011

More than 80 representatives of national institutions, governments, researchers, NGOs, students and international organizations from five countries gathered in Dushanbe 15-16 April for the international conference, Central Asia: Creating Tolerant Communities on the Path to a Culture of Peace.

The conference was organized by the Academy of Education of Tajikistan with partnership of the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office and support from UNFPA Tajikistan and Rossotrudnichestvo, the Russian International Cooperation Agency.

Minister of Education Abdujabbor Rahmonov opened the conference, stressing the need to promote education as a means of fostering tolerance in the region. He noted how the tragic events in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 affected the entire region. When the conflict began, we felt it. When you hurt, your brothers in Tajikistan also hurt.

Topics ranged broadly from discussions of religion, multicultural dialogue, the use of the Russian language to educational exchange and tourism as ways to promote tolerance. When one travels or studies abroad, one gains experience, knowledge from interacting with others it makes people more tolerant of others to see who they are and how they live, said Ms. Pivovarova of Tajikistan Ministry of Cultures national scientific research institute for culture and information.

A highlight of the two-day event was a parallel student conference dedicated to contemporary issues of tolerance. University students debated racism, language discrimination and respect for religion and age. Yet the topic that spurred the most emotion among students was the intolerant treatment of Tajik labour migrants working abroad. Students

Recommendations adopted at the conference will be used to advocate for tolerance education at all levels in schools, in professional programs and for promotion in tolerant social policies in the region.

The conference is part of UNESCO Almatys campaign For Tolerance in Central Asia, started in November 2010 in Kyrgyzstan to mark the 15th anniversary of the adoption of Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance by UNESCO. The campaign will continue throughout the year with activities to promote reconciliation and multicultural dialogue.

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