Summary of the International Symposium in Paris on May 9, 2019

On May 9, 2019, OIDEL organized an international symposium in Paris titled “Education: A Cultural Right. Rethinking education in the 21st century?”, at the magnificent University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

The event began with a speech by George Haddad, President of the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, who paid tribute to Alfred Fernandez, the former Director of OIDEL, who died in October of 2018.

The speakers focused on two themes: “How should we rethink the educational system?” and “How can the cultural approach bring lasting solutions?”

Mr. Singh, the former Special Rapporteur on the right to education, pointed out that education cannot be seen as a commodity and that there needs to be a bigger partnership between the public and the private sector. He stated that we must learn to live together in order to participate and cooperate with others. He ended his presentation by saying that education is an essential good.

Mr. Sobhi Tawill of UNESCO conveyed the need to rethink the school from a humanistic perspective and emphasized the purpose of education, recognizing that society is changing. There is a social and spiritual dimension to respect, he stated. “Humanity is going somewhere that is has never been before”. 

Emmanuel Decaux, from the University of Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, stressed the need to train educators, mobilize all stakeholders, and develop methodologies to better define the fields of additional education.

The fourth speaker, Ms. Dubourg-Lavroff, Inspector General of the Administration of National Education and Research (IGAENR), believes that it is dangerous not to analyze scientifically the relevance of the education project. Education must take into account sustainable development and the individuals, and educational centers should have more autonomy.

In the second panel, Dr. Charles Glenn, professor and former Dean of the Faculty of Education at Boston University, spoke about how the cultural dimension is essential and that it is very necessary to recognize and protect the independence of the institutions of civil society.

Mrs. Luisa Ribolzi, professor emeritus at the University of Genoa, says that we cannot be simplistic; every school must provide a quality education that respects equality because education influences quality of life. This is precisely why the state must serve the citizen and ensure quality.

The seventh speech was that of Mr. Armel Pecheul, Associate Professor of Public Law, Rector of the Academy at the University of Angers, and President of Education and Freedom, thinks that it is necessary to establish an equality of facts between citizens because the common interest of society must prevail and ensure the formation of humanity.

Ignasi Grau, deputy director of OIDEL was the last speaker at the conference, asserting that cultural rights are closely linked to the right to education, and that they should not only be used to develop knowledge. Civil society, parents, and schools should engage in informative dialogue to build an identity.

In the weeks following the symposium, OIDEL intends to take all the remarkable speeches and publish them in a book. We will keep you informed.