In the past, education was given on an equal social basis, a school for everybody, promoting justice to diminish differences and targeting social integration. Today the major issue in our society is how to deal with difference? How should we recognise and valorise cultural differences and, at the same time, promote the authentic cultural integration and integral development of our students, first at school, and, later on, in society?

General principles of intercultural learning

Intercultural principles concentrate on openness to the other, active respect for difference, mutual comprehension, active tolerance, validating the cultures present, providing equality of opportunities, fighting discrimination. Communication between different cultural identities can appear paradoxical in the sense that it requires recognition of the other both as similar and as different. In this context, according to Ouellet (1991), intercultural education can be designed to promote and to develop:

:: a better comprehension of cultures in modern societies;
:: a larger capacity of communication between people from different cultures;
:: a more flexible attitude to the context of cultural diversity in society;
:: a better capacity of participation in social interaction, and the recognition of the common heritage of humanity.

The principal aim of intercultural education is to promote and to develop the capacities of interaction and communication between pupils and the world that surrounds them. Among the consequences of this, according to Guerra (1993), we should ensure that:

:: pluralism has to be a component of the education given to all pupils
:: minorities are not obliged to forget their cultural references;
:: every culture is to be equally valued;
:: support mechanisms are in place to guarantee similar success rates for the children who
belong to minorities as well as for majorities.

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Approaches in intercultural learning

One of the challenges associated with intercultural learning is that there is no clearly defined educational discipline known as “intercultural learning”. Nevertheless, if we adapt or create methods, we will do it in an educational framework, maybe created and influenced by ourselves, the circumstances, the trainers team, the participants. : More

Key international documents related to cultural diversity

The ability of everybody to participate in the cultural life of a community is a universal right. All people have the right to express themselves and to create and distribute their work in the language of their choice, particularly in their native language.  One of the founding principles of the European Union is respect for its diversity. The upheavals of European history show the importance of protecting national minorities and allowing different religious, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities to flourish. The peace and stability enjoyed by the EU over the last half century is largely due to this pluralism. : More

Source:”Intercultural Learning T-Kit”, Council of Europe and European Commission, November 2000