Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Education, Culture, Sport,
Youth and Environment
GR-C(2005)9 7 February 20051
History teaching activities of the Council of Europe in Cyprus in 2004
Background information and proposals for on-going cooperation in 2005
Item for consideration by the GR-C at its meeting on 10 February 2005
1. The Council of Europe began its work on history teaching in Cyprus in July 2003 on the initiative of the Secretary General and with the agreement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus.
2. In 2004 the Council of Europe organised four activities in Cyprus comprising seminars and workshops which brought together about 400 participants from the two main communities as well as from Armenian schools, reflecting the fact that Cyprus is multicultural. The first seminar on “The Council of Europe and history education” (June 2004) was organised in cooperation with the Cyprus JW Fulbright Commission while the other three activities were implemented with the help of two non-governmental bodies: the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (comprising educators from different communities) and the Cyprus Turkish Secondary Education Teachers' Union (K.T.O.E.Ö.S).
3. The activities provided an opportunity for an exchange of views on the preparation of new teaching materials as well as on teacher training issues. As one of the challenges of education today in Europe concerns teaching about diversity, one of the main goals of the activities was to supply the participants with information on such practical approaches in teaching history as multiperspectivity. This approach is reflected in Recommendation Rec(2001)15 on history teaching in twenty-first-century Europe adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 31 October 2001.
4. As a result of discussions held in different venues participants agreed on the importance of continuing the activities on history teaching initiated by the Council of Europe in the above-mentioned areas as there is neither special initial nor in-service training for history teachers in Cyprus and there is an urgent need for supplementary teaching materials which could be used by different communities throughout Cyprus. It was pointed out that the Council of Europe is the only organisation which has built up considerable experience in teaching history when working in different parts of Europe, including in countries in conflict, and that these experiences could be of a great help for history educators in Cyprus.
5. Participants greatly appreciated the results achieved by the Council of Europe in regional cooperation, aimed at the development of new approaches in teaching history of neighbouring countries on the basis of mutual respect and tolerance and which are reflected in the Black Sea Teaching Pack. They pointed out that it would be useful to have similar teaching materials for Cypriot schools and proposed to start the preparation, under the auspices of the Council of Europe, of a set of pedagogical materials on historical issues which reflect the past of Cyprus as a whole, such as “Cyprus during World War II”, “Nicosia - a multicultural city” or “Women in Cypriot History”, as these materials could help teach history in its full complexity, strengthen the reconciliation process and equip young people with new competencies for life in the present-day multicultural context.
6. Participants emphasised that it is essential to maintain momentum and provide continuity during the seminars and workshops in 2005, which should be focused on how to:
- teach controversial and sensitive issues, including conflicts;
- present the image of “others”;
- teach recent history;
- use multiperspectivity.
It was pointed out that the activities of the Council of Europe provide a rare opportunity for educators from the whole of Cyprus to meet and share their experiences and concerns, and create a solid basis for strengthening mutual understanding and confidence.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set up in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.