Waging peace in the classroom: Teaching respect and appreciation for diversity in a globalized world
As the world reels in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016, respectively, there is growing recognition that these attacks are becoming a global threat—and one unlikely to diminish in the coming years. With atrocities committed across the globe in Nairobi, London, Mumbai, New York, Barcelona, and Beirut, the need for peace through dialogue and solidarity has never been greater.
Placed at the heart of the UN’s new global development agenda, education has the power to connect young people across political, religious, and cultural divides and to build a shared sense of responsibility for the world in which we live. However, there is an increasing recognition that standard pedagogies around the world are not working and, in some cases, are even exacerbating the problem by pushing students towards intolerance, extreme ideologies and even violence.
In this fourth issue of The Blue Dot, we have decided to focus on education as a tool for both preventing violent extremism and—sometimes—even propagating extremist ideologies.
In this fourth issue of The Blue Dot, we have decided to focus on education as a tool for both preventing violent extremism and—sometimes—even propagating extremist ideologies. This issue reflects UNESCO MGIEP’s commitment to advancing the fundamental role of education as a means to changing mindsets and, ultimately, bringing about more peaceful societies.
From an interview with award-winning social entrepreneur Prof. Sugata Mitra on the role of technology in revolutionizing education, to a foreword by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the UN’s response to violent extremism, our contributors come from a host of different countries and backgrounds. What brings them together, however, is a call for changing current education systems. This is espoused even more clearly in a piece by Prof. K.P. Mohanan, who uses inquiry-driven approaches to prompt youth to question blind faith in any form of ideology or indoctrination.
In this issue we also discuss UNESCO MGIEP’s activities in raising awareness of the strong link between education and radicalization and violent extremism, including our flagship Talking Across Generations (TAG) event which brought together policymakers and young people in an open discussion in Delhi this February. The outcome was a statement calling for greater inclusiveness and more space for young people to shape the policies that ultimately affect them.
Just like our events, The Blue Dot is a platform for individuals from different backgrounds and walks of life who might have divergent ideologies, beliefs, and values, all of which may have prevented them from coming together to debate some of the most pressing issues of our time—including the global concern surrounding the rise in violent extremism. When individuals feel free to discuss, share ideas and question their beliefs, they can begin to think creatively and critically about the world and their surrounding environment. The challenge is to avoid lecturing or preaching to young people, but to provide youth with a safe space to discuss contentious issues in an open, inclusive and transparent manner.
An open dialogue on violent extremism is a step towards providing young people with opportunities to ask questions and to reflect on their own beliefs, assumptions, and values, including animosities, prejudices, hatred and intolerance. At UNESCO MGIEP we believe that individuals who feel connected to others across political, religious or cultural divides also share a sense of responsibility for the world in which they live. We hope you enjoy reading this issue of The Blue Dot and, as always, we welcome your feedback.
Anantha Kumar Duraiappah
Director, UNESCO MGIEP