BBC News: Textbook approach to Asia's disputes By Yojana Sharma

18 Feb 2014 - 20:15

Sourcehttp://www.bbc.com/news/business-26073748

 

Does a common future mean that South East Asia should be able to agree a common past?

Educationalists and historians have been meeting across borders to attempt the seemingly impossible - a common history textbook for South East Asia.

Not only will they have to accommodate diverse countries and a tangle of overlapping disputes, they have to contend with countries wanting to revise their history books to reflect territorial claims.

This ambitious task is taking place within the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) group of countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Textbook experts from the region met in Bangkok in Thailand last year to look at the idea of a common history.

"There are still fundamental miscommunications, deeply-held prejudices and emotionally-charged perceptions which we have to overcome," a former Asean secretary-general, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, told the meeting, organised by Unesco.

'Bad history, bad neighbours'

"This is just the first step in what will be a very long and complex process," says Tim Curtis, chief of the culture unit of Unesco's Asia Pacific regional office.

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