Experts, researchers, and educators from Harvard and other universities from around the world, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ministries of education and other institutions, are calling for more intercultural learning to be included in teacher education and in-service training. They also demand that more emphasis be placed on intercultural competence in school curricula. These were the outcomes of the debates at the 8th Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange that took place in Colle di Val d’Elsa, Italy, in November 2017.

In light of these demands, it is encouraging to see that OECD’s PISA tests (Programme for International Student Assessment) will officially start assessing global competence of teenagers worldwide on 12 December 2017. The dissemination of the results of the new PISA tests, which until now focused only on math, science and reading,  should provide deeper insights into what education systems and schools can do to promote intercultural competence.

Forum participants they called for these actions:

  • Educational authorities and teacher education institutions must make intercultural learning an integral part of all pre-service teacher learning to ensure that teachers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to function and educate in an intercultural environment.
  • Educational authorities, teacher education institutions and schools need to provide in-service intercultural learning programs for the ongoing professional development of teachers in this rapidly changing area.
  • School heads must commit to intercultural learning and professional development of not only teachers, but all staff, including facilitating teacher exchanges and school partnerships.
  • Official professional development credit needs to be given for teachers who study abroad or who gain practical experience through traineeships in other countries.
  • Teaching methods should help facilitate intercultural learning for pupils so that they acquire an intercultural mindset and become globally competent in their everyday lives.
  • Appropriate assessment systems of intercultural learning must be developed alongside the needs identified, for example by OECD with the PISA 2018 Global Competency Test, or by the Council of Europe with the Competences for Democratic Culture.

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Convened by the Intercultura Foundation, the European Federation for Intercultural Learning and AFS Intercultural Programs, the Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange is an annual event dedicated to advancing intercultural learning in order to build more peaceful and just societies, strengthen understanding between diverse communities and promote human dignity.