Guidelines for building the Lab for Democracy to prevent violent radicalization in Belgian schools

Education plays a key role in promoting shared values and fostering a culture dialogue, mutual understanding and social integration. Teachers are at the frontline in encouraging social integration, establishing a safe space to discuss radicalization and helping students develop their active citizenship. Yet, in Belgium, teachers lack the contextual understanding of the phenomenon of radicalization and practical pedagogical solutions applicable in the classrooms. The pilot project developed by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) aimed at raising awareness of prevention of radicalization and violent extremism among Belgian educators and other actors involved in the education sector. In addition, the project aimed at shedding the light on the pedagogical component of preventive activities.

The methodology of the pilot was based on a series of meetings and focus groups under the general principles of the Living Lab approach. Representatives from research, social work, local/regional/national security and education sectors took part in the meetings. The events contributed to the understanding of: 1) major concepts; 2) the Belgian CVE structure; 3) the multi-stakeholder collaboration; 4) teachers’ role in prevention of radicalization in the classroom and 5) teachers’ specific needs.

The outcome of the project is the educational video developed by VUB. The video was inspired by the Radicalization Awareness Network’s approach on building the Lab of Democracy in the classroom for prevention of violent extremism. At the final stage, VUB organized an evaluation workshop in order to connect stakeholders from various education and security-related sectors and discuss the findings of the project.

You can watch the video HERE