Tag: SDGs

UNESCO MGIEP’s call for Education for Humanity finds resonance with Leaders and Laureates

As the only United Nations agency in India convening a roundtable at the prestigious summit, MGIEP put the spotlight on building compassion through curricula and institutionalising youth participation in decision making.

December 2016, New Delhi— Last week, UNESCO MGIEP pushed forth the dialogue on Education for Humanity via its roundtable at the prestigious Leaders and Laureates Summit for Children held at the President’s Estate. The first edition of the summit, spearheaded by Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2014) brought together the collective leadership of Nobel laureates and leaders, youth and over 150 eminent personalities from various walks of life – academia, business, civil society, sports, arts and culture, for designing a child-friendly future.

Speaking at the occasion, HH the Dalai Lama urged all those present to do their bit to ensure that the 21st century is the “century for peace”. Underscoring that education has a role to create compassion he said, “Training through holistic education can lead to heightened awareness which creates peace.” Asserting that it is imperative that education systems  focus on developing compassion and not only intellect, he reiterated, “The basis of inner peace is warm-heartedness and this must be cultivated through education.”

His comments were mirrored by those made by Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands who, in her moving address to the “missing children” at the summit pointed out what continually evades the discourse on achieving a sustainable future— the inclusion and participation of the youth in decision making. Illustrating her point, she drew the attention of the audience to the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and underscored that without active youth involvement, the goals would remain hard to achieve.

The MGIEP roundtable on Education for Humanity took forward the dialogue from where the opening session concluded. The roundtable was presided by the 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karman, who won the highly-coveted prize for her relentless struggle for human rights and women’s participation in peace-building in Yemen and for organizing non-violent protests that became part of the 2011 Arab Spring movements.

Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, director UNESCO MGIEP drew attention to the results of a study undertaken by MGIEP across India to support the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s revision of the National Education Policy (NEP) in 2015, where majority of the youth felt they were always at the periphery of critical decision making processes.

When asked about “how we can create spaces for the youth to be engaged and have an equal voice,” educator Lata Rajnikanth reiterated that students must be made to feel they are equal stakeholders from the primary education level itself so as to inculcate a sense of joint ownership in the future.

Freeman, a youth activist from Ghana who was rescued from child slavery, offered an alternative by narrating his success with integrating decision-makers with young students by asking the policymakers to engage in a youth dialogue and not vice-versa.

Talking of the key learning outcomes for fostering compassion, Rohit Menezes, partner at the Bridgespan Mumbai office, pointed out that while compassion itself should be an outcome of the education systems it is unfortunately not happening as organically as it should.

Agreeing, Dr. Duraiappah pointed out the disturbing results of a 2015 survey conducted by Bengaluru-based NGO Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness covering about 10,000 high-school and college students from 11 cities across the country. It found more than 65% of young people felt that boys and girls from different religious backgrounds should not be allowed to associate with each other. Worse, over 40% of boys agreed that women had no choice but to accept a certain degree of violence. Eminent journalist N Ram added that to change to change such mindsets, it is essential that the process of “imparting values” in education systems takes on a secular nature and doesn’t further propagate differences.

Drawing the key inputs from the rich discussion, Chair Tawakkol Karman summarised the three recommendations of the table as the following:

—Institutionalising youth participation in decision making that goes beyond soliciting opinions.

—Giving emotional learning equal importance as intellectual development in curricula.

—Multi-sectoral approach for finding solutions to close gaps in current education systems.

Contact Information:

–Ms Anamika Gupta a.gupta@unesco.org, Programme Officer

–Mr Simon KUANY, s.kuany@unesco.org, Programme Officer

–Ms Radhika BHATNAGAR r.bhatnagar@unesco.org, Communications Officer


Close to 28,000 Global Citizens support MGIEP’s campaign for inclusive education

Mumbai, India—-The much-awaited first edition of the Global Citizen India Festival held in Mumbai on November 19 saw 80,000 young people from across India join forces with political representatives and leaders to bring about real change to India and the world.

Leaders from the local, state, and federal government came together on stage at the festival as well as in video appearances and messages to the Global Citizens watching around the world to commit to help realise Quality Education (SDG 4), Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6)

Those physically present at the festival represented the voice of a much larger mass—In just two months, more than 500,000 youth in India took more than 200,000 lakh actions calling on political, faith and business leaders along with celebrities to be more accountable on education, gender equality, water and sanitation.

UNESCO MGIEP partnered with Global Citizen India to create a unique SDG 4 Inclusive Education Journey to advocate for difference learners – the one in six people worldwide who require their educational materials, teacher delivery, and learning assessment to be different from standard education models and practices. Difference learning includes the following diagnoses (or 4Ds): Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia. Learning difficulties, unlike physical disabilities, cannot be easily seen and detected hence, we call this The Seen Unseen!

A total of 27,800 young global citizens participated in the two-step, 10-day long inclusive education journey.

It required them to sign a petition to the ministers of education asking them to include the needs of different learners in the New Education Policy as well as tweet to them the following:

#EducationMinistersofIndia.Please recognize the need for universal screening tests and trained teachers for different learners

The Global Citizen India concert was headlined by music giants Coldplay and had international artists such as Jay-Z and Demi Lovato also performing alongside Bollywood bigwigs such as Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.

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Contact Information:

–Ms Radhika BHATNAGAR r.bhatnagar@unesco.org, Communications Officer

Peaceful families are key to resolving interpersonal conflict

This is the second in a series of blogs by the winners of our #spaceforpeace twitter campaign on Interpersonal conflict.

By Nili Majumder,

Conflict is the common part of human interactions and occurs in different contexts of our lives; Conflict can cause resentment, hostility and perhaps the end of the relationships. If it is handled well, however, conflict can be productive/creative-leading to deeper understanding, mutual respect and closeness.

Family is the fundamental unit of human society and the principal institution for the socialization. Person learns how to communicate & process emotions. People also learn many of their values, beliefs & choices from their families. In family interpersonal conflicts often increases stress, anger, frustration and can jeopardize the relationships.

In childhood children are imitating the behaviour of their parents. Interpersonal conflicts in family members have strong effects on children’s psychology. Children are moulded by the family culture into which they are born and growing up, their assumptions about what is right and wrong, good and bad reflect the beliefs, values and traditions of the family culture; they also carrying into adulthood numerous attitudes and behaviours acquired in childhood.

Future generations who grow up surrounded by destructive conflict may, as adults, determine never to participate in discord. In this situation, the person may never have learned that there are effective, adaptive ways to communicate in the face of conflict. Even those who later reject all or part of the family culture often discover that they are not entirely free of their early influences. No matter that they promise themselves they will never repeat the mistakes of their own family—certain cultural attitudes and responses are so ingrained in family members that they continue to affect their thinking and behaviour, whether or not those individuals are aware of such influences.


Attitudes and expectations about the roles of men and women vary from one family to other; it is an integral part of family culture. E.g. the boys or girls raised in a family in which female members are empowered are exposed to a very different family culture than from the one where female members are not socio-economically empowered.

When the society are not recognised or valued different practices, beliefs of families from different cultural backgrounds; it can also lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings, it affects family. Lack of understanding about differences is called discrimination. Discrimination impacts negatively on individuals and entire societies. Valuing and respecting diversity encourages people to see differences among individuals and groups as common and positive; inclusive positive attitude promote respectful relationships and reduces the discrimination and isolation.

This is when we need to talk about the role of education in our culture.

Education is the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits. It is important that the education at each step must be high standard and universal in order to ensure appropriate learning outcomes that provide knowledge, skills and attitudes for an active citizenship. Qualitative/scientific education is important because it helps to establish quality learning environments that are rights-based, gender-sensitive, healthy, open minded and tolerant. It also enhances life skills such as critical thinking, decision-making, communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, coping, and self-management; it can be applied in violence prevention also.

Qualitative education can empower children to participate in activities to bringing constructive changes in the society, because qualitative education enriches our culture and ensure to make resilient families that provide tolerance, cooperation, respect to all human beings and their rights.

According to World Economic Forum among World happiest countries like Denmark and other Nordic countries achieved gender equality and there have strong presence of women in leadership positions.

We learnt from the World’s happiest countries that if we ensure gender equality, qualitative education & jobs for all, women empowerment and increase the women participation in decision making, all social factors will help to make resilient family.

In a resilient family (where women are socio-economically empowered & family members have quality education) future generations are getting the culture that in any critical situation (facing hunger, poverty, conflict) & if they belong in the leadership they will never loss patience power, not to use abusive language and not involve in corruption or unfair activities.

We can say that resilient peaceful families ensure that there is peace in society and vice versa.

Happy families can change the world.

Nili Majumder

About the author: Nili Majumder works as the Gender Equality Advocate on Social Media for the Global Fund for Women.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNESCO MGIEP.

Interpersonal conflict and education

This is the first in a series of blogs by the winners of our #spaceforpeace twitter campaign on Interpersonal conflict.
By Dr. Sergio Costa

Interpersonal conflict is the consequence of one’s inability to relate to others and may involve some personal stake. The stakes could range from self-preservation of mind or body to losing or acquiring resources and land in the instance of war. Some conflicts are based on real threats. Some are not. Parsing out the real from the unreal is a challenge spanning generations. People misunderstand and misperceive all the time.

Education plays a key role in developing the person to be a discerning, scrutinizing and well-meaning participant in the space of human interaction. Education, of course, encompasses different things. In many societies, interpersonal skills  – people skills, cultural competence, knowledge of different societies – is often lacking. Skills focusing on the areas of mathematics and science in their various applications are often perceived as more important that the humanities and arts. Societies fail to produce well-rounded individuals if we skew preferences to certain careers and domains, particularly when they are so lucrative, at the expense of others.

The focus must be on the whole person. Cultural works, novels that illustrate different societies, cultural norms, societal problems illustrated through creative works, perspectives on globalization and international political economy (what could benefit you may be a cost to someone else), expression of ideas through sound and imagery: all these are effective means to relate to others. Knowing the other greatly depends on knowing oneself, being aware of the dynamics of interpersonal exchange. Self-awareness enables us to act responsibly and nobly.


People want to be validated and respected. The skills required to do this are listening well (speaking prematurely and without invitation or expectation impedes that) and establishing trust through open dialogue and respect. If there is no intention to truly seek out the reasons for each other’s positions (perceiving the threats through the eyes of the other) then there is little hope that conflict can be overcome. While we can never truly know someone else, we can appreciate through experience and expression to the greatest extent possible what others feel and mean. While one individual can never know the cumulative effect of systematic marginalization over the course of a lifetime, we have the power of words and our willingness to listen and to honor the experience and suffering of someone else. We can validate the other by confirming what is heard and repeating it back for reciprocal validation. It’s an iterative exercise of give and take in order to come to a mutual understanding – very much like a dance.


While pervasive today, the absence of interpersonal skills is not without hope. Yes, parents and employers may compound the problem by not teaching and exhibiting interpersonal skills to their children, employees and others.  Curricula, strategic plans, and policy actions may completely overlook respect and appreciation for others. But, interpersonal skills can be learned at anytime. Overcoming interpersonal conflict at the global level will require the participation of many sectors, leaders, the public, decision makers, and policy makers and likely more. One way we can accomplish the goal of reducing interpersonal conflict is spreading the message: the call to listen, respect, and validate others. We can do that with those we know in our own orbits.


Human beings often fall victim to hurtful and pointless dichotomies. The “us “ versus “them” mentality often shows as at our worst. For example, one’s sports team can do no wrong; the opponent is always wrong. We need to be aware of our own psychology including our tendency for confirmation bias (we look for information that validates our biases, positions regardless of merit) and resilience to cognitive dissonance (discomfort with facing cracks in what we perceived as truth). But more than this, we as human beings should foster curiosity in the other and nurture humility through recognizing that we are not alone on this planet. Everyone is a story that is worth the time to listen to, respect, and understand.

About the author: 

Dr. Sergio Costa is a lecturer at the Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy at the City University of New York. He directs the innovative pedagogical online initiatives for the school. Dr. Costa has a PhD in political science from Boston University and a Master of Science in Education degree. He worked for Pearson Education in the area of e-learning and higher education academic support for students at all levels. From 2010-2014, Dr. Costa was the Director of Distance Learning for the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He is interested in the intersection of public health and education, intercultural dialogue, and international development. He is published in the areas of public health education and policy.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNESCO MGIEP.