This paper looks into the concept of toleration that underlies the educational project of the European Union. First, it discuss the main institutional initiatives of the Union against recurrent attitudes of intolerance, as well as the activity in the field of education, specially the recent Resolution of the Council on Responses of Educational Systems to the Problems of Racism and Xenophobia. The author argues that many difficulties for a firmer action are due to the principles regulating educational policy set up by the Treaty of the European Union, namely the principle of respect to cultural diversity and the principle of subsidiarity. The trouble is that each of these principles can denote not only two distinct political stands, but also two different notions of tolerance: the liberal concept and the communitarian one. Finally, an attempt of joining these two different perspectives is located in the idea of human rights as substantive content of a moral education for toleration.
This study has been undertaken within the context of education for human rights, in order to identify, collect and analyse the values of a multicultural and cosmopolitan education.
If we try to discover the educational power of Human Rights, attention should be paid to the value and meaning of Human Rights, to the reasons for and against them, to the possibility of their being enacted, and to their foundations. This discussion is the best way to build a plural civic education, viewed as moral education. This latter must necessarily be carried out relaying on social action in addition to school education.
To have democratic and pluralistic societies we need some values, rights and attitudes to improve our living together. We assume the dignity of every one as human being and so that we relate our text to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But those are not enough. We need to be involved, to participate and have duties and responsibilities in our society. In this context, the school system has to take into account all these considerations to have citizens where their rights are respected and are able to have responsibilities and trained to assume those duties.
The human rights of the third generation affirms the claim on the heritage of all to whom its denial precludes the practicability of purpose. People in the industrialized countries rightly, of course, deplore any insensitivity to the rights they have come to cherish. Ecological damage emerges from a lack of solidarity. The activities of solidarity are going to be essential in the ever-changing and uncertain society of the future.
In the developed countries it has been established a clear distinction between rights and liberties. In the welfare state there is a permanent focus to human rights. Thinking things over the human rights head the social dimension of the human being. Fifty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we are ready to ask for a new discipline in education such as "Education for development". This proposal could be studied in two different and complementary ways: a) The relationship between the right to education and information society. b) The need of "education for development" as a social right in the general process of social democratization and administrative decentralization in modern society.
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