The General White Paper and the project behind it

The Action and Protection Foundation completed a regional project, funded by the International Visegrad Funds, with the participation of Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian Jewish organizations, aiming to counter antisemitism by improving school textbooks from a Jewish perspective.

The Action and Protection Foundation completed a regional project with the participation of Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian Jewish organizations: the Jewish Educational Center Chabad in Slovakia and the Social-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland.  The project titled Countering antisemitism by improving school textbooks from a Jewish perspective lasted from 1 September 2021 until 31 May 2022, and was funded by the International Visegrad Funds. Our goal has been to counter antisemitism through education by developing white papers that outline a methodology to review and improve the representation of the Jewish people, history and of Judaism in school textbooks.

We have made the first step in the long process of the textbook-renewal project. We produced a methodology, based on a best practice, which involves the public education system in possible strategies countering antisemitism.

With this project, we strengthened the cooperation and partnership between the V4 countries in their engagement in countering antisemitism. The next step should be the planning of the actual textbook revision in the project countries, including advocacy activities to raise the interest of national educational stakeholders.

We have developed the General White paper titled Improving School textbooks from a Jewish Perspective – The White Book for European Education Policymakers and Jewish Communities has been inspired by the best practice achieved in Hungary in 2016-2017 and is the result of regional collaboration.

The paper provides a detailed description of the recommended topics to be featured in European school textbooks. Considering that this project was based on the Hungarian experiences, we also mentioned the Hungarian specificities that have been accepted. The General White Paper serves as an excellent starting point for the schoolbook content revision in the project countries and have the potential to serve as motivation for other countries as well. The recommendation outlined in the paper helps to reform schoolbook contents and texts in a way to eliminate prejudices and present the Jewish tradition, history and social contribution of Jewish people before and after the Shoah. The General White paper is available in Hungarian, English, Polish and Slovakian languages.

Based on the methodological guidance laid down in the general white paper and with the assistance of APF and educational experts, Polish and Slovakian experts have developed their national white papers. Dr. Halina Postek, Head of the Education Department at the Warsaw Ghetto Museum and Dr. Matej Beranek, Director of the Education Department of the Sered Holocaust Museum were the leading experts of these activities. The national white papers are tailored to local circumstances and the national educational system, and they incorporate the scope of history and literature themes that should be considered in the textbook-revision. The Polish White paper is available both in English and Polish, while the Slovakian White paper has been prepared in English, Hungarian and Slovakian.

We held the online project closing meeting on 27 May, 2022 with the participation of the coordinators and experts supporting the realization of our initiative. We summarized the project events and results, introduced the General, the Slovakian and the Polish white papers, and opened an active discussion for reflections, questions & conclusions, which underlined the partners’ common motivation and ambition to represent the Jewish perspective when talking about education.

The coordinators and experts have reassured each other that they are available for consultations and discussions also after the project closing meeting. In the upcoming period, we will focus on promoting the General White Paper by contacting national education ministries and spreading the news on European forums.