Between June 15-18, the Auschwitz Institute’s Educational Policies Program (EPP) organized an online training for 35 teachers from the Federal District of Brasília, Brazil. AIPG collaborated with its partners from the Federal Prosecutor for the Rights of Citizens (PFDC), the Federal District’s Secretariat of Education (SEEDF), and the School for Professional Training in Education (EAPE) to implement the training. Conducted over four days, the seminar included 16 hours of instruction, including lectures from relevant specialists, in addition to a variety of activities that familiarized participating teachers with the objectives of the Citizenship and Democracy in School project and its major themes. The event also prioritized the creation of a new community of educators interested in bringing the project to their students.
The Auschwitz Institute and its partners decided to hold this training via videoconference, representing the first fully-fledged virtual training in the history of the program. This was done in recognition of the crucial importance of three major factors: the need for work focused on atrocity prevention within the current global context, the importance of continuing the activities of the Citizenship and Democracy in School project, and the need to respect social distancing guidelines that prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The training was officially opened with an activity designed to welcome each of the participants and create a space for introductions. Following these short presentations, attendees spent the remainder of the initial day of training being introduced to the work of the Auschwitz Institute and its Educational Policies Program, as well as the objectives and methodology of the Citizenship and Democracy in School project that has been developed by AIPG’s EPP in collaboration with its partners.
The second day of the training opened with the session’s framing activity followed by a short presentation by Dr. Clara Ramírez-Barat, the Director of the EPP. In accordance with the thematic axes of the project, Dr. Ramírez-Barat’s talk covered the concept of identity and the importance of respect for diversity in the construction of a democratic society that can prevent future genocide. Next, participants were divided into two groups to take part in one of the activities outlined in the project’s Methodological Workbook, which had been adapted for online participation. Guided by Amanda Petraglia, AIPG’s EPP Program Assistant, Janaina Soares Galo, a consultant on the development of the project’s methodology, and Tatiane Guerra of the PFDC, the participation-centric activity fostered dialogue on stereotyping and discrimination.
The latter half of the working day included a lecture entitled “Dignity of the Person and Human Rights: Historical and Philosophical Fundamentals,” which was delivered by Dr. Walter Claudius Rothenburg, an official of the Federal Public Ministry and alumnus of the Auschwitz Institute’s Raphael Lemkin Seminar. The day finished with “Human Rights and the Federal District Study Plan,” a lecture taught by Ana Paula Rodrigues of the Federal District of Brasília’s Secretary of Education.
On the third day of the event, participants engaged with a module by University of Brasília Professor Thiago Trindade entitled “Democracy, Participation, and Citizenship.” Following this, Professor Ricardo Andrade and one of his students, Yara Guedes, gave a brief account of their experience in implementing the EPP education project in Brasília’s Gisno school in 2019. The day then finished with a segment led by Maria Eduarda Gonçalves, a lawyer and physically disabled individual who fights for the inclusion of her community in society. The report that she delivered, highlighting her experiences, shed light on the importance of prioritizing measures for inclusive education.
The final day of the training began with a lecture by Professor Claviano Sousa of the Federal University of Paraíba. Professor Sousa gave a presentation entitled “Educommunication and the Role of the Media in Democracies.” The seminar then initiated a closing discussion between the organizers and the attending educators. Together with the PFDC and SEEDF, the EPP facilitated a collaborative dialogue to identify the best approaches to continue conducting trainings and developing the Citizenship and Democracy in School project during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Over the upcoming months, the Auschwitz Institute and its partners will continue working to support educators in implementing the contents of the project in the classroom. For Dr. Ramírez-Barat:
Despite the challenges in implementing this type of training seminar via videoconference, we are very much aware of the importance of continuing our activities at a moment like this. While teachers and students alike remain outside of the classroom, it is vitally important to work toward preserving the continuity of learning. Despite these challenges, we are quite satisfied with the results and have learned a lot from the situation, which will be essential for our work over the coming months.