Evaluation recommends continuation of Teaching Controversial Issues in the Nordic countries

An external evaluation of the EWC project Teaching Controversial Issues in the Nordic Countries recommends to build on the created momentum through the establishment of a train the trainers programme. The evaluation was commissioned by The Nordic Council of Ministers


The evaluation shows that the Nordic Pilot test of the Council of Europe manuals Teaching Controversial Issues (TCI) and Managing Controversy (MC) has contributed to the strengthening of the school leaders’ & teachers’ personal and professional skills to handle controversial issues.

It notes that “within an extremely short time period the test schools have introduced more than 1100 people” to the Council of Europe manuals Teaching Controversial Issues and Managing Controversy, including schoolteachers, school leaders, pupils & students, teacher trainers, teacher students, politicians, and specialists.

The evaluation underlines that the project helps teachers and school to address sudden and unexpected controversial remarks by pupils and students. It also addresses the very hot and challenging contemporary topic of anti-radicalisation in schools by presenting a constructive approach to preventive measures in accordance with Nordic school values of democratic dialogue.

One of the recommendations in the evaluation is to carry out a training the trainers programme with workshops and online support.

“A Training-of-Trainers would serve to establish a pool of experts in each country on teaching controversial issues based in institutions or organisations with a multiplier capacity. In turn, these would be able to support national efforts in training and awareness-raising, potentially reaching a far larger number of schools and practitioners than through a model like the pilot project”, says Jennie Holck-Clausen, EWC project manager.

Another positive feature of the pilot project has been its positive influence on policy priorities. Denmark and Finland appointed staff from the Ministry of Education and the Board of Education to participate as national facilitators. Both countries are now taking steps to include teaching controversial issues as a part of the national work in schools on prevention of violent extremism and radicalization.

In Denmark it has been decided to make controversial issues one of the six focus areas within the Ministry of Education’s strategy for the prevention of radicalization. This will include training and guidance in questions related to controversial issues, for all working with children and youth. In relation to schools, the Ministry of Education aims to support trainings and capacity building in how to handle controversial issues in schools, including use of the manuals.

In Finland the three participating schools in the pilot project have received funds from the National Agency of Education in support of their efforts to implement teaching controversial issues as part of the new core curriculum, which has a strong emphasis on human rights, student participation and equality. All teachers working at the three Finnish schools will receive training in 2018 and in addition there are plans to introduce the manuals and teaching controversial issues to the teacher students at Tampere University Teacher Trainer School.

Teaching controversial issues is furthermore part of the preventive work against extremism in schools in Finland and the manuals have been uploaded on the website developed by the National Agency of Education: http://edu.fi/planera/valmaende_i_skolan/forebyggande_av_valdsam_extremism

The full external evaluation can be downloaded below:

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