4.5 Initiatives promoting social inclusion and raising awareness
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The main top-level institution that aims to develop intercultural awareness and promote intercultural dialogue is the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth. Through the adoption of the intercultural model, the Ministry has in recent years promoted a series of actions in the context of Intercultural Education and Training (“Διαπολιτισμική Αγωγή και Εκπαίδευση”) with the aim of mutual acceptance, confidence building and the elimination of negative stereotypes and prejudices among children. The existing educational policy seeks to smoothly integrate pupils with migrant biography into the Cypriot Educational System and to provide effective communication by providing education through the provision of enhanced and diversified Greek language learning programs.
Thus, the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth offers a website dedicated solely on Intercultural Education and Training. The website targets school teachers and offers educational material in order to enable them to respond more effectively to migrant students’ needs studying in public schools. The provided material includes books in other languages, guideline books and activity books for pupils, which can foster intercultural awareness. Also, professionals are encouraged to share good practices with other stakeholders, aiming at creating a wider school community.
The website remains constantly available to teachers and its core aim is a democratic school which promotes intercultural awareness in the school environment and minimize social exclusion The outcome would be the creation of means equal opportunities for access, participation, success, respecting the diversity and multiculturalism of the student population and their individual needs. The overall vision is a school system that fully recognizes and accepts diversity, pluralism (cultural, linguistic, religious) and multiple intelligence.
In addition to that, the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth encourage the development of inter-cultural activities and programs within the frame of school activities.
At the same time, the Youth Board of Cyprus which runs under the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth encourages young people and organised groups to take action enhancing intercultural awareness and respect through its main funding programme, the «Youth Initiatives Project». The Programme gives incentives to young people to develop an active role in cultural, sport, political and social activities in Cyprus. It aims at encouraging non-formal learning and active citizenship through volunteerism. One of the fields it covers under «Social Intervention Action» is «Social Discriminations». The objective of the field is to promote social cohesion, acceptance, tolerance, diversity, respect for human rights, as well as in fighting discrimination in general.
The main top-level initiatives taken in Cyprus to promote young people’s rights are the following ones:
The activities of the Office of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights (Επίτροπος Προστασίας των Δικαιωμάτων του Παιδιού): The Commissioner has competence and responsibility (among others) to organise seminars and educational programs relevant to children’s rights as well as to promote public awareness so that the society will be mobilized and safeguard in practice children’s rights in the family, the school, the wider community and the society in general. In order to achieve the above aims, the Commissioner visits and discusses with children in schools, child care institutions, youth centres, etc. Also, additional information regarding children’s rights are provided through the Commissioner’s webpage, official publications, focused seminars, etc. The main target groups addressed are children (until the age of 18 years old), as well as the wider society.
No hate speech movement: This is an online youth campaign of the Council of Europe for human rights aiming at reducing the levels of acceptance of hate speech and developing online youth participation and citizenship, taking into account available resources offered by e-governance. Youth Board of Cyprus is the official representative of the Republic of Cyprus in this campaign. The main target group is young people.
The National Human Rights Institution of the Office of the Commissioner of Administration and Human Rights (Ombudsman) (Επίτροπος Διοικήσεως & Προστασίας Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων). Τhe National Human Rights Institution takes action when violation or inadequate protection of human rights occurs or when it is deemed necessary to promote a culture of respect for the rights of vulnerable groups of population to the wider society. Within the framework of its competencies, the National Human Rights Institution can take the following actions:
- Investigate – either on its own initiative or following a complaint – any case that violate, restrict or adversely affect the human rights of individuals; each case concludes to a report and recommendations.
- Meet and deliberate regularly with non-Governmental Organizations, human rights advocates and other concerned groups.
- Participate and play an active role in meetings and other events organized by European, National and International human rights groups.
- Take any other action to promote and reinforce the care and respect for human rights.
“Code of conduct against racism and guide for management and recording of racist incidents” in schools. This manual is divided in two basic parts: (a) the Code of conduct to combat racism and (b) the Guide for managing and recoding racist incidents. In the first part, the necessity for the preparation of the Code is established and a relevant theoretical background is provided. This part includes the purpose and the objectives of the code as well as the responsibilities and commitments undertaken by all members of the school environment. The Guide, on the other hand, entails the steps that need to be taken in order to manage racist incidents as well as a Table of Sanctions. It includes the Self-reflection Document, the Document for the Registration of Racist Incidents and the Yearly Document of Reference of Racist Incidents. The Code and the Guide have been prepared by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute and the Curriculum Development Unit, with the contribution of the Anti-Discrimination Authority. The purpose of this manual is to identify any direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional reasons, procedures and processes that lead to negative discrimination for individuals based on their diversity. It also aims to action in order to prevent and tackle racist incidents, and take action in developing anti-racist culture. The main target group is school students.
The initiative #LifeStories was implemented in 2020 for a second consecutive year under the European Erasmus+ framework, which is directed by the Youth Board of Cyprus. LifeStories aims to share good initiatives and best practices to youth in order to energise them to create similar initiatives in their own communities, based on social solidarity and communal well-being.
In 2014, the Council of Ministers adopted the National Strategy for dealing with Terrorism, (“Εθνική Στρατηγική για την Αντιμετώπιση της Τρομοκρατίας”), where all necessary measures are taken to protect critical infrastructures and vulnerable targets, to implement effective border controls and to continuously upgrade technological equipment to enhance the exchange of information.
In addition, the Cyprus Police, operates the Counter Office Terrorism under Crime Combating Department. One of the basic responsibilities of the Office is to contribute to the Radicalisation Awareness Network. Similar to this, the Cyprus Police released the “Radicalization and Terrorism – a manual for police officers”, which helps them track and prevent radicalization.