Virtual Forum on Cultural Diversity in the Hemisphere
The Unit for Social Development, Education and Culture, committed to fostering open dialogue with civil society, launched an on-line consultation and dialogue forum as a shared space for the analysis by and participation of civil society in the process of preparing the Declaration and Plan of Action of Cartagena de Indias. The "Virtual Forum on Cultural Diversity in the Hemisphere" has been on-line since June 3rd, 2002.
In order to promote participation in the theme of cultural diversity, more 1000 people representing civil society organizations and professionals working in areas related to the promotion of cultural diversity in the hemisphere were invited to participate.
Participants in the on-line discussion were provided with background documents used in the debate and negotiation of the draft Declaration and Plan of Action of Cartagena de Indias. These include a summary of the current concerns regarding cultural diversity in the hemisphere, the Draft Declaration and Plan of Action of Cartagena de Indias, approved on June 14th at the preparatory meeting, held in Washington, D.C., and various other documents emanating from the Experts Seminar on Cultural Diversity, in addition to other technical reference documents prepared by experts.
In one month of operation, more than 80 people registered in the on-line forum, and 13 comments were received with respect to the theme.
following people and civil society organizations registered and/or sent
us their comments:
Casira Indigenous Community "CO.IN.CA." - Argentina
Comment "A BETTER WORLD IS POSSIBLE" when societies accept us as diverse and respect the guidelines by which we live, preserving the fundamental values of a healthy lifestyle that do not damage the universal or cosmic equilibrium. These universal principles are put forth by indigenous peoples to be shared; however, dominant societies do not wish to view them as such.
DIVERSER - Colombia
Comment The research group, Diverser, from the University of Antioquia Faculty of Education, has been working on a research project since 2000, entitled "the representation and interpretation of social reality through dramatic plays and other artistic-recreational activities among children in a diverse cultural context". Among the main problems we have discovered in this population is the systematic loss of cultural identity, among both male and female participants, that manifests itself in a lack of knowledge of their ancestral cultures. As a result of what we have observed, we believe that this systematic loss of cultural identity is rooted in different factors that are related to the tendency of our education system to homogenize culture. Our schools homogenize culture to maintain a European ideal of society: white, Catholic and heterosexual; differences are not even recognized nor respected within the school: religion is taught but not religions, Spanish is taught, but not languages; written literature is taught in Spanish, leaving aside oral tradition. All that is indigenous or black is taught as a violent history, past and dead. Subconsciously we are made to see the indigenous or black races as inferior; the homosexual as something strange and out of the ordinary; other religions and beliefs as deviations from faith; all the former as sheep led astray that need to be shown the way; this has been the education in our country, one path along which all must learn to follow.
Center for Educational Studies - Mexico
Comment Studies on diversity have advanced sufficiently to clearly illustrate that recognizing diversity is not enough; it is necessary to ensure that together with this recognition we practice inclusion, which signifies that education offered in countries, especially at the primary level, should respect all the different cultures and not exclude anyone for reasons of language, religion, custom, cosmovision, etc. This is the big challenge for education, because after all is said, there remains a great divide between what is said and what is done. For a long time now, including "regional, local or cultural content" in the curriculum has been considered sufficient in terms of respecting cultural diversity, but the truth is that in many cases this has been reduced to themes that may be more appropriately labeled "folklore". The challenge is to deeply reflect on what it means to educate on diversity.
Project "Prata da Casa" - Brasil
Comment In this situation, the community has an ensemble of the richest cultural expressions of the country. If we empower community groups to obtain public authority, their efforts to preserve their identity will be maintained and strengthened. As there are many cultural expressions and many groups, there is cultural pluralism and permanence of features that globalization cannot suffocate.
Poveda Cultural Center - Argentina
Comment The participation of civil society is not only necessary, but also urgent in the current situation in which our continent is living. It is from this perspective that a more dialectic and productive relationship should be created between the state, as the main actor responsible for educating society, and organizations committed to the social, economic and cultural development of the people. There are multiple organizations that are contributing significantly to improving the quality of education for individuals, groups and communities. This forum seems to be an excellent opportunity to reflect on and construct new strategies that will contribute to the formulation of new educational policies that strengthen the equality and quality of the educational and cultural fields.
An organization from Argentina
Comment As culture is one of the subtlest means of domination and infiltration used by dominating peoples over the dominated, and being also one of the most suitable instruments for this new style of imperialism named globalization, I think that it is indispensable that if one truly wishes to work positively towards respecting and promoting cultural diversity among the peoples of the Americas, one must be specific in the definition of certain terms. In my modest opinion, I believe that the only equality that can be spoken of, is equality of access to the consumption, manifestation and expression of diversity. Clearly, if producers face barriers such as having to pay for the dissemination of their products, it is highly unlikely that the poor and dominated of the hemisphere will be able to participate freely in the melange of recognized artistic expressions that are of accessible to all.
An organization from
Alliance of Panamerican Round Tables - Texas, USA
Comment Since its foundation, Pan-American Round Tables have developed projects and activities in the cultural sphere, with an emphasis on education, communication, environment, health, art and cultural exchange in the countries of the Americas. We believe that improving the quality of education in each country will allow us to improve knowledge, understanding and friendship between the inhabitants of the American nations. That is our primordial objective. We place ourselves at the service of the Inter-American Committee on Culture, with the firm belief that we are able to help achieve its objectives at a continental level. In addition, we believe that if we were to be designated as a Civil Society Representative to this Committee, we would be committed to supporting member states, studying ways to facilitate the contribution of civil society, philanthropic organizations etc. to the development of cultural policies.
Fe y Alegria - Colombia
It seems to me that
the theme of popular urban culture is not addressed in the papers presented.
The creation of gangs, the violence inherent to many of them, the violent
defense of territory, the fight for survival, and the codes of conduct
of these gangs are common in various countries of Latin America. Studies
have proven the loss of influence by families, schools, indigenous cultures
and traditional churches in the face of the increasing popularity of the
media, including the Internet, street socialization and peer groups. Today
we speak of a culture of globalization; can we also speak of a capitalist
"culture" or of a capitalist ideology in inner cities? We also
speak of postmodernism, to what extent is this reflected in the popular
culture of youth? Beyond the above-mentioned issues, cultural elements
such as machismo, alcoholism, and family class, seriously affect the behavior
of our students and their parents. We hope that the forum will contribute
to our duties as teachers. Despite the loss of the school's influence,
it continues to play an important role in the creation of values, and
in molding individuals capable of coexisting peacefully and participating
in political activities related to the common good. The overall objectives
that must be met in order for our countries to develop economically and
democratically are closely linked to education and obviously to culture.