Involving education in the prevention of violent extremism

On 13 March 2018, Switzerland’s EU mission and the European Foundation for Democracy organised the debate entitled Toolbox against radicalisation: How to involve the education sector to prevent violent extremism in Switzerland and the EU?, about the different measures which could possibly prevent radicalisation and violent extremism and, more specifically, how to involve the educational sector.

The event responded to the context that Europe has experienced over recent years, with different terrorist attacks. The authors of these attacks were, in most cases, European citizens who have been radicalised in European societies. An additional dimension of this problem are child returnees or youngsters who return to Europe after having participated in some way in conflicts in the Middle East.

In December 2017 Switzerland published its National plan to counter radicalisation and violent extremism, aimed at the administration and federal and local authorities (cantons, cities and communities) and recognises the crucial role that civil society has.

The debate revolved around two questions: specific training and tools for teaching staff in state schools (for example, guides), and education, in national universities, from imams and teachers who give Islamic religion classes.

The debate was attended by André Duvillard, delegate of the Swiss security network of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport; Alexandra Antoniadis, head of the sector of radicalisation protection of Migration and Home affairs of the EC, and, as moderator, Sebastian Ramspeck, correspondent of Swiss television and radio (SRF, in its German initials) in Brussels. Urs Bucher, ambassador of Switzerland’s EU mission, and Roberta Bonazzi, president of European Foundation for Democracy, co-organiser of the event, also took part.

The following questions were stressed during the event:

  • The importance of the role of education was reiterated and the transmitting of values in order to counter radicalisation.
  • It was pointed out that these professionals –teachers, educators and primary teachers, among others– are overwhelmed with the situations they have to address, as they are on the frontline.
  • Radicalisation can take place in different venues and it is for this reason that it must be addressed from different angles. The main method of radicalisation is not in the school context.

The following links offer further information:

Relevant European Commission notifications (in English):

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