Child Subject to Cultural Influences 2005


The Arab Child Subject to Different

Cultural Influences Conference

25 - 27 September 2005

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

 

The Arab Council for Childhood & Development (ACCD) held "The Arab Child Subject to Different Cultural Influences" Conference from 25-27 September 2005 in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, under the sponsorship of ACCD's President, Prince Talal Bin Abdel Aziz. This Conference is a follow up to ACCD's emphasis on Arab children's culture and the different cultural impacts they are exposed to in the context of globalization and open satellite channels.

Partners:

ACCD held the conference in partnership with a number of regional and international bodies including the Arab Gulf Programme for Development (AGFUND); the Bibliotheca Alexandrina; the League of Arab States; the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO); UNICEF's MENA Region Office in Amman, Jordan; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); the Swedish Institute in Alexandria; the United Nations Educational, and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the Supreme Council for Family Affairs "Sharjah."

Conference Objectives:

  1. Monitoring the impact of the different cultural influences on the status of Arab children, as well as identifying their nature and effectiveness in shaping the social and cultural contexts of Arab children.

  2. Investigating the phenomena and problems that begin to emerge in the lives of Arab children as a result of these numerous influences or the mechanisms of the Arab reality itself.

  3. Evaluating the Arab policies; whether on the Arab or country level, in relation to fulfilling the needs of Arab children and improving their well being. The aim is to emphasize the policies' identities and deepen their sense of belonging, in addition to examining their compliance with children's rights as stated in international and Arab documents.

  4. Working toward developing a prospective vision capable of promoting the positive aspects of the status of Arab children, and generating positive policies in order to enhance this status.

Conference Topics:

The conference examined the following topics:

  • Sources of the Arab child's culture.

  • The Arab child's language in the age of globalization.

  • The impact of local and foreign media on the Arab child.

  • The cultural rights of the Arab child.

  • Foreign experiences related to children's culture (samples of Swedish, French, and Italian experiences were presented during the conference).

Participants:

Approximately 500 participants attended the conference from 21 Arab countries and 7 other countries, representing various bodies including the High Councils and National Committees for Childhood from the respective nations, concerned ministries, cultural offices of Arab countries' embassies, as well as representatives from a number of regional and international organizations, research centers, experts in the field of child culture, and representatives from media outlets.

Parallel Activities:

In preparation for the conference, a series of children's workshops were held in 11 Arab countries (Jordon, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Algeria, Syria, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt, and Yemen), in collaboration with a number of concerned institutions in those countries.

In parallel with the conference's proceedings, a number of activities were held including:

  • An exhibition of children's drawings.

  • Presentation of a documentary film entitled Children Express Themselves during the opening session.

  • Holding a parallel "Regional Workshop for Arab Children." Approximately 40 children participated from 8 Arab countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Sudan). Children discussed the results and outcomes of that workshop in one of the conference's special sessions entitled "Children Expresses Themselves."

Recommendations:

During the conference, and throughout eight sessions (general and parallel sessions), in addition to the opening and final sessions, all the presentations focused on a number of Arab childhood issues related to children's culture. Finally, the participants concluded with a number of recommendations, the most significant of which were:

  • The importance of activating civil society organizations (CSOs) and promoting cooperation among them in the field of educating and cultivating children, as well as discovering gifted children and innovative children's writers. In addition, CSOs should work toward enhancing children's confidence in themselves, their heritage, their civilization, and their national and humanitarian identities. CSOs should also emphasize essential values in children such as tolerance, openness, respecting the other, as well as human rights, freedom and peace.

  • Emphasizing Arabic language education and developing the current methods of teaching Arabic, as well as adopting classical simplified Arabic as the main language of communication with Arab children at school, in educational curriculum, and through mass media.

  • Translating useful foreign-language books for children into Arabic, and encouraging learning the Arabic language in immigration countries, as well as developing a "dictionary of basic Arabic language for children"-similar to existing dictionaries in other languages-to serve as a guide for those who write for children in their early stages of education.

  • Developing an Arab strategy for promoting children's theatre and other cultural and artistic institutions, with the aim of increasing the number of children's theatre shows that perform plays in rural and urban areas.

  • Entrusting the Arab Council for Childhood and Development (ACCD) with the role of coordinator among all activities and efforts exerted by the various bodies and institutions related to Arab childhood, aiming at developing Arab children's culture.

  • Working toward integrating children with special needs in all cultural, media, and artistic activities addressed to children, in order to stress their rights to participation and end the negative behaviors against them.