Talking Across Generations on Education (TAGe)
Public Information Officer, UNESCO MGIEP
TAGe offers young people and seasoned experts a space to come together and discuss their views on education, global citizenship and–in particular–violent extremism.
Young people under 30 years of age make up more than half of the world’s population and yet the average age for parliamentarians around the world is 53, according to Global Parliamentary Report statistics. In Africa, a continent which claims the youngest population in the world, statistics are even more skewed: the average age of its ruling elite is 65 and, in some countries, as many as 80 percent of citizens were not even born when their present-day countries’ presidents came to power.
Representing young people’s voices in important global decisions is not only about inclusiveness and equality. With challenges such as climate change, forced displacement, and violent extremism on the rise, young people may offer key perspectives and solutions. And while governments and the UN are responding to these crises through initiatives such as the UN Secretary-General Report on the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, Security Council resolution 2178, and the UNESCO Paris Declaration in March 2015, success will only be possible if young people are allowed to participate in the decision-making process.
UNESCO MGIEP’s Talking Across Generations on Education (TAGe) events offer an alternative narrative to the age-old dichotomy of perspectives between older and younger generations. First established in 2015, TAGe offers young people and seasoned experts a space to come together and discuss their views on education, global citizenship and–in particular–violent extremism. Over the past two years, close to 1,000 individuals from different backgrounds and walks of life have participated in UNESCO MGIEP’s town-hall style debates, which replace podia with open forum discussions. Here, informal speakers and the public are seated together while seasoned journalists moderate the conversation.
UNESCO MGIEP’s Talking Across Generations 2016 edition drew more than 500 participants and focused on the role of education in preventing violent extremism around the world. Held at the India Habitat Centre in central Delhi, the event opened with a panel discussion on the question “Can education radicalize youth for peace?” Addressing a packed auditorium, Dr. Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO MGIEP, said that this year’s topic arose from witnessing an increase in violence against civilians based on criteria such as religion, caste and gender.
“Can education radicalize youth for peace?”
Dr. Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO MGIEP, said that this year’s topic arose from witnessing an increase in violence against civilians based on criteria such as religion, caste and gender.
The panel discussion focused on the personal experiences and diverse backgrounds of the panellists—ranging from Afghanistan to South Sudan. For 23-year-old panellist Simon Kuany Kiir Kuany, a former refugee from South Sudan and current student at Symbiosis International University, the role of education is to give meaning to students, while teaching them to walk in other people’s shoes. “Education needs to teach people to be better human beings,” he said, as the audience, mainly comprised of university students, cheered.
At the end of the discussion, UNESCO MGIEP’s Youth Team unfurled its YESPeace Network flag and officially launched its second national chapter in India in partnership with two NGOs—Pravah and ComMutiny the Youth Collective (CYC)—focusing on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. A network of networks for youth leaders and young people ready to take on the challenge of changing the world, the YESPeace Network now has national chapters and local youth volunteers in Malaysia and India. In the late afternoon, participants congregated once again for TAG’s signature, town-hall style debate among young people, policy-makers and UN officials.
This time, the debate culminated in a youth statement, which will be presented in upcoming international youth fora and circulated to all UNESCO Member States. During the debate, moderated by Zee Media’s Mandy Clark and Neha Buch of Pravah/CYC India, young people spoke about the risks of education being used as a tool for indoctrination, the challenges of promoting education when parents can’t afford to feed their children, and how to better involve young people in decision-making processes.
Encouraged by the enthusiastic response to TAG New Delhi, UNESCO MGIEP plans to organize a series of globally recognized TAGe events, which will expand upon the town-hall discussion format through social media campaigns and ICT tools. This will help facilitate discussions among decision-makers and young participants, who will be selected through online campaigns in the months leading up to the event.
We hope that dialogue between older and younger generations will bring about… the important roles young people have to play in our society as advocates, leaders and decision-makers
The next TAGe will be held in New Delhi, India, from 19 to 20 September, 2016. Organized with UNESCO Headquarters, the focus of TAGeDelhi will again be on Preventing Violent Extremism through Education (PVE/E) with the goal to have young people directly discussing with policy-makers the transformations needed within education systems to effectively prevent violent extremism.
In October 2016, UNESCO MGIEP will host TAGeQuébec within the UNESCO Conference “Internet and the Radicalization of the Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together”. Here, young people will have the chance to bear witness to how violent extremism affects people in their respective countries, what the responses have been, and how the issue can be addressed more effectively through partnerships. The purpose will also be to use new technologies to recognize signs of radicalization, find innovative solutions to preventing radicalization, and build a platform through which young people will have access to policy-makers. With increasing numbers of young people spending significant amounts of time online, it has become vital to provide safe virtual spaces for them to socialize and discuss their ideas.
The TAGe events will encourage young people to engage in UNESCO MGIEP’s online platform called the Knowledge Commons, an online space through which individuals can engage in virtual communities on different topics. The platform also functions as a tool to analyse the sentiments and ideas which emerge from the discussions. The information gleaned from the platform will be a valuable tool to formulate youth statements to be presented to decision-makers around the world.
Over time, we hope that dialogue between older and younger generations will bring about better mutual understanding and a more accurate depiction of the important roles young people have to play in our society as advocates, leaders and decision-makers.
Are you a young leader or a policy-maker and do you want to create your own TAGe event sponsored by UNESCO MGIEP? Send us an idea for a theme, location, concept and expected outcome to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign in to the Knowledge Commons at knowledge-commons.com and leave us a note. We would love to hear from you!
Upcoming TAGe events:
For more information, keep an eye out for our updates on mgiep.unesco.org.