Intercultural Education: What Is Called for? A Comparison of European and Latin-America Experiences

Intercultural education policy has emerged as an alternative to both assimilationism and multiculturalism. While multiculturalism emphasizes the cultural identity of social groups, somehow crystallizing their characteristics, interculturalism is based on a different understanding: it favors mutual dialogue and it assumes that the cultural identity of an individual cannot be equated to that of the social/cultural group to which he is assumed to belong. The paper considers the European and the Latin-America experiences in a comparative perspective. The two cases target intercultural education policy differently: while in Europe it addresses the cultural diversity related to the immigration flows, in Latin-America it is seen as an instrument to promote indigenous cultural claims The strategy is also different. In Europe intercultural education policy is grounded on the idea of promoting allegedly common legal values, mainly by means of citizenship education and education about religion with a cognitivist approach. As such, intercultural education is above all a way to enhance social cohesion, rather than diversity and pluralism, being a mild form of assimilationism.

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