Goethe-Institut education initiatives in the MENA region

Getting behind civil society

News from the Middle East and North Africa often conveys the image of a troubled region characterised by political and economic volatility. But there are many more facets to life in this region than this image suggests, as shown by the projects the Goethe-Institut is running in the region. By Christina Büns

Culture saved him – so to speak – from violence and radicalisation, says Mohamed Essul. The 29-year-old Libyan has been organising cultural events in his home city of Tripoli since 2011 and is currently pursuing a dream: to renovate his grandfather's house and set up an artists' residence there.

Last summer, he and 11 other people working in Libya's cultural sector took part in the Kulturakademie programme in Libya. The project aims to give Libyan cultural managers a qualification and connect them with the Arab and German cultural scenes. The prevention of violence is a welcome side-effect.

Preventing radicalisation

The Goethe-Institut is taking a similar approach to educating people towards non-violence in Egypt and Tunisia. Since the seeds of radicalisation and violence are often sown in adolescence, while young people are still at school, education policy-makers and academics are focusing on the prevention of violence in Egyptian and Tunisian schools.

The education ministries and the Goethe-Institut have taken a closer look at this issue in Egypt with three workshops aimed at school leaders, teaching staff and students.

Participants at the workshop on science journalism (photo: Roger Anis/Goethe-Institut Cairo)
Participants at the workshop on science journalism, which was part of the 2017 pilot project "Writing about Science", which sought to strengthen science journalism in Egypt and encourage better relations between science and journalism

"I see almost no difference between Egyptian and German students," says trainer Holger Hegekötter, who came to Cairo in November for the project's kick-off workshop. "The students you are dealing with today are the ones who will lay the foundations for how society will function in the future, and they are the ones who can change these foundations. But that kind of change takes time," says Hegekötter, the head of Bremen's Institute for Pedagogy and Psychology. In Tunisia, the Goethe-Institut is also planning to implement a continuing professional development programme for teaching staff and school psychologists, and student projects with cultural or sporting activities.

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