DEMOCRACY, EDUCATION AND MULTICULTURALISM: DILEMMAS OF CITIZENSHIP
IN A GLOBAL WORLD
Institute for Democracy and Human Rights – IDHR is an independent Armenian non-governmental organization which has been working consistently towards the achievement of its main goal, namely the building of a democratic state in Armenia based on human rights and social justice. We believe that this is the prerequisite for Armenians, as individuals and as a nation, to live and develop a free and prosperous life that is respectful of human dignity and is able to pursue human development.
IDHR values cooperation in the development of democracy and civil society in the Republic of Armenia, and is open to any constructive cooperation that will strengthen Armenia’s democratic statehood based on the principles of human rights, social justice and solidarity.
IDHR believes that the ones who will uphold democratic development in Armenia are the citizens, the residents, the Armenian people who are aware of their rights and responsibilities. We emphasize the importance of the people’s awareness and consciousness of processes that protect human rights; the knowledge of these processes is essential to the struggle for defending individual and collective rights.
Over its six years in motion IDHR has focused on the development, enhancement and consolidation of a democratic civic consciousness and culture. IDHR values the self-consciousness of the people at large and, particularly, the disempowered sectors of Armenian society. IDHR also stresses the need for active participation in elaborating, implementing, and promoting legislature and programs that foster human rights, fundamental freedoms, social justice and solidarity.
Furthermore, we believe that one of the foundations of the survival and prosperity of the Armenian people is the development of its own specifically enriched national culture. The development of this collective INDIVIDUALITY and cultural capital is largely determined by the interaction between national and universal values and their harmonic development.
It is with this consciousness that we undertake our translation initiative with the English-Armenian translation and publication of Democracy, Education and Multiculturalism: Dilemmas of Citizenship in a Global World, a book by Carlos Alberto Torres. Torres writes of education, citizenship and policy, “striving for equality” and understanding ways to achieve “freedom and happiness” in democratic societies. This book raises the issues related to the important role of educators and the major challenges they face in the globalized world. It attempts to give us the opportunity to analyze these challenges for the sake of the harmonious human development of the individual and the citizen, their state and the global world.
IDHR’s present undertaking aims at generating and developing the mind set and civic culture of Armenia. We consider the latter to be a crucial necessity in the present condition of the Armenian and Diasporan development of a common state. Unfortunately, this endeavor is not a priority of the Armenian and Diasporan public and national agendas. IDHR realizes this program by its own initiative and thanks its members and adherents for their intellectual, ethical, technical and financial contributions and for their devoted volunteer work.
Through this publication, IDHR intends to generate national and societal debate in
Armenia and in the Diaspora on the vast importance of state and public policy, particularly focused on the strong links between education, citizenship, democracy and multiculturalism. With regard to these issues we also wish to promote the exploration of new principles for reevaluation that have not been considered to be important until now. We wish to contribute to the self-awareness of these ideas, views and principles in the national and societal reproduction. This will provide an important opportunity for those who are concerned with these issues to be able to make their own choices and position themselves in public discourse.
It is of vital importance, for IDHR and the Armenian nation that is building its new statehood, to consciously recognize these challenges and to direct our individual and collective forces towards this goal. EDUCATION and Citizenship are key for building fully developed individuals and a consolidated democratic statehood based on social justice and solidarity. We believe in this idea and consider it our mission and duty to struggle and work in this domain.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the author, Professor Carlos Alberto Torres, for kindly providing the copyright to IDHR for the Armenian translation and edition of his book, and for his valuable input in writing an introduction analysis for the Armenian edition. We also thank him for his utmost readiness to participate in the book’s presentation and in the public discussions and debates to be organized by IDHR in September 2005 in Armenia. Special thanks go to Vardan Azatyan, English- Armenian translator of the book; Hrach Bayadyan, the comparative editor; Gevorg Lalayan, the proof reader; Printinfo Publishing House for designing the cover of this publication, as well as Zangak-97 Publishers for printing the book. Finally, thanks go to IDHR’s members and network of supporters whose devoted efforts, as well as their intellectual, financial and technical contributions, allowed this valuable and difficult initiative to come true.
Institute for Democracy and Human Rights-IDHR
Yerevan, August 2005