Educators, whether in schools or in other professions, play a central role in shaping the behaviour and attitudes of the people with whom they work in society. Schools are an excellent place to foster mutual trust, break down stereotypes, explain the value of diversity and broaden understanding of universal human rights. The OSCE's youth projects include human rights, the environment, tolerance, and gender education as well as support for minorities in education.
As part of its conflict prevention mandate, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) engages participating States in formulating national minority education policies in a way that maintains essential elements of minorities’ identity and supports the right of persons belonging to national minorities to education in and of minority languages. The aim is to find an adequate balance between identity preservation and the cohesion of multi-ethnic societies. Minority language learning should be combined with the acquisition of the State language(s). The HCNM also pays specific attention to inter-ethnic understanding and interaction in education, as well as to allowing for multiple perspectives in history teaching.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) promotes respect for diversity and mutual understanding in schools, and assists educators in training their colleagues to understand and defend human rights and to encourage societies based on the respect for human rights.
Education is also central to the work of a number of OSCE field operations, which focus on the following areas:
- Education reform, including legal education.
- Reducing ethnic-based division and other forms of exclusion.
- Establishing learning outcomes and standards.
- Improving school management.
- Developing mediation in schools.
- Strategic orientation and training programmes for civic education curricula.
- Training on anti-discrimination, media development, policy analysis and conflict-sensitive development.
- Human rights and environmental education.
- Promoting dialogue and networks.
Established in 2002, the OSCE Academy in Bishkek is the OSCE flagship education initiative in the Central Asian region to promote the Organization’s commitments to young people in all five Central Asian states and Afghanistan. The OSCE Academy aims at fostering regional co-operation, conflict prevention and good governance in Central Asia through post-graduate education, professional trainings and intellectual exchange.