Education – Unesco and France to “scale up” the fight against anti-semitism (12 November 2023)


UNESCO and France have announced a new partnership to prevent and combat the increasing number of anti-Semitic acts in schools and universities, following a rise in reported cases in recent weeks. UNESCO will also put the issue at the heart of its 42nd General Conference, by organizing a dedicated event on 16 November.

At UNESCO’s 42nd General Conference, the Director General of UNESCO and the French Minister of National Education and Young People decided to conclude a new partnership to conduct large-scale training of educators and political decision-makers in combating anti-Semitism through education, in France and Europe.

“Now that the ‘foul beast’ of anti-Semitism has reawoken, a collective jolt is urgently required and necessary. Education is a powerful response to the scourge. UNESCO has long experience and solid skills in training and supporting teachers in this field. This agreement with France will enable us to extend the initiative to all educational staff,” stressed UNESCO’s Director General, Audrey Azoulay.

"I am pleased to be lending support to UNESCO’s actions in the fight against anti-Semitism. With anti-Semitic speech being unleashed and the number of anti-Semitic acts increasing in many countries, France is playing its full role in the vanguard of nations combating this scourge,” said Catherine Colonna.

"France will take wide-ranging action jointly with UNESCO, to scale up the fight against anti-Semitism in terms of training and awareness-raising in schools. I thank Audrey Azoulay for her trust when it comes to this shared commitment,” said Gabriel Attal, Minister of National Education.

Training educators and decision-makers across Europe

With the resumption of hostilities in the Middle East in recent weeks, Jewish communities all over the world have been targeted and threatened by levels of anti-Semitic hatred unprecedented in recent decades. This increase is also having serious consequences in schools and universities. Educators are facing an urgent need for effective advice on how to respond to prevent and tackle anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred in school environments and informal education settings.

The partnership between UNESCO and France is based on two pillars:

  • 1. Training teachers and all educational professionals, at every level of teaching, to deconstruct stereotypes and prejudices, raising their awareness of contemporary forms of anti-Semitism, and helping them protect victims, be it in classes or in the context of extra-curricular and sports activities.
  • 2. Raising awareness among and urging political decision-makers to ensure that educational policies all over Europe make the fight against anti-Semitism one of their priorities.

France will release €600,000 in initial funding to implement these actions.

A new stage in UNESCO’s strategy against anti-Semitism

The partnership reinforces UNESCO’s ongoing cooperation against anti-Semitism with the European Commission and national education ministries from 12 European countries, including France.

In the framework of this cooperation launched in August 2023 and due to last two years, UNESCO is conducting research on how school textbooks treat topics linked to anti-Semitism and Jewish life, history and culture, as part of its efforts to help root out anti-Semitism in Europe. The Organization is also assessing European teachers’ preparedness, and proposing effective educational methods and learning activities to combat anti-Semitism.

Against a background of rising anti-Semitism and other forms of hate speech online and offline, UNESCO has also issued guidance for educators on how to tackle conspiracy theories and guidelines for political decision-makers on how to tackle hate speech through education.

The Organization’s action also extends to other regions of the world, through many projects to combat anti-Semitism through education.