This project is part of the broader project funded by the British Embassy in Belgrade “Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization Threats in Serbia through Community-Based Early Warning and Preventive Engagement”. The latter is aimed at establishing and consolidating a foundation for efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalization that can lead to terrorism (VERLT) in Serbia. Preventing and countering VERLT is recognized as a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach in the global fight against terrorism to which the Government of Serbia is committed. The project encompasses three themes of research, in specific: support to community policing/municipal safety councils (MSCs), intercultural education and civic participation and engagement (civic education).
This specific project, implemented by the selected implementation partner (Civic Initiatives), will conduct teaching training on topics related to violent extremism and radicalization with the aim to empower civic education practices. The focus will be on civic education teachers currently working in targeted Niš high schools, grammar schools and vocational schools. Teachers will be trained using materials based on the UNESCO “Teacher’s guide on the prevention of violent extremism,” with several hundred students being instructed by these teachers. Teachers will use interactive teaching methods, asking students to present on related topics to their own student parliaments, parent councils, school management, and also to peers in other schools. The project also envisions a final public event to present the results and deliver recommendations for the Ministry of Education. Civic education is aimed at educating students at how they fit in to a society, and how they can engage in their community – skills critical for ensuring participation and agency. Research shows that a sense of helplessness often drives young people to join extremist groups, where they hope they might enjoy a sense of agency and action they lack in their society.