History Teaching

Regional cooperation

In the 1990's, many countries expressed their interest in working with neighbouring states at almost the same time. The reasons were:

  • a general lack of information on the history of neighbouring countries in school curricula;
  • the fact that the image of “others”, in particular neighbours, was mainly presented in the context of political and military issues;
  • a lack of pedagogical materials which could help to teach history in interactive ways.

Two long-term regional projects were developed:

the Tbilisi Initiative
the Black Sea Initiative

These projects not only aimed at the preparation of joint publications, but they also served to create a favourable climate for the development of cooperation between history educators of neighbouring states. This allowed the history of these regions to be viewed in a new way, and primarily through the prism of social, cultural, economic and everyday history, and also to better understand particularities and common features in the shared histories of the countries belonging to the same geographical area.

Both projects showed the importance of a balanced presentation of history topics, which should not only concentrate on political themes. It is the inclusion of other topics that enables teachers and their pupils to discuss important issues such as interaction between different cultures and countries, consequently preventing the creation of new dividing lines.

Extended regional cooperation

One interesting feature is that, for quite a long time, all the actors involved in history teaching had to join efforts: ministry officials, academic circles, in-service teacher training specialists, textbook authors, publishers, history teachers and their pupils. These joint efforts brought history educators to the conclusion that history teaching in the world today should be aimed, first and foremost, at strengthening the reconciliation process, promoting principles of mutual respect, and opening additional doors for cooperation.

This interest in regional cooperation was confirmed at the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe member States in Strasbourg in 1997, where the importance of regional cooperation in strengthening stability and security in Europe was highlighted.

Also, under both initiatives, it has been possible to bring together the Ministers of Education from the countries of the region. All reiterated their support for the Council of Europe’s work on history teaching in the Tbilisi Declaration, in March 2000.

the Tbilisi Declaration - Download the document

Russian version - Download the document