Tag: TAG

UNESCO MGIEP launches YESPeace India

15th February, New Delhi – UNESCO MGIEP took the next big stride after Malaysia, and towards youth empowerment, with the launch of YESPeace—the Youth for Education, Sustainability and Peace—India Country Programme. This marks the beginning of a journey to transform the – 356 million strong – youth of India into Global citizens, through the unique lens of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development.

The launch event was co-hosted by UNESCO MGIEP in collaboration with Pravah & CYC (Commutiny Youth Collective), partners of YESPeace India.

The highly-charged conversations, at TAG 2016, amongst youth leaders from across the world, on – Can education radicalize youth for peace? – provided a perfect setting for the YESPeace India launch. But what really stole the limelight that day was the part where the youth themselves took to the stage to launch the YESPeace India country programme.

‘Education is what gives individuals the knowledge, aspiration and values to live in dignity and act for common good. This is why it the most basic foundation for building lasting peace and sustainable development’
– Irina Bokova

Abel Caine, Head of Youth & Communications Team, UNESCO MGIEP, India
Abel Caine, Head of Youth & Communications Team, UNESCO MGIEP, India

YESPeace Network  is a network of networks, which offers online and on-the-ground global engagement opportunities for young people. The network’s interactive and creative potential supports youth action by providing an online space for young people and youth organizations to learn about, support, and co-create campaigns and projects, as well as build the bridges that link local, regional and global youth actions. The on-the-ground programmes at national levels provides the space to raise awareness, and influence issues, which are locally and globally relevant and empowers young people on Education for Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship.

It has been selected as one of the flagship programmes for the youth priority area of UNESCO’s Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development with a special focus on Sustainable Development Goal 4.7. The programme aims to provide young people with access to policymakers and to the arenas where policies are enacted.

Neha Buch, CEO, Pravah, India
Neha Buch, CEO, Pravah, India

During the launch session, Neha Buch, CEO Pravah, our India partners along with CYC, provided a brief glimpse of the YESPeace India SMILE programme (Students’ Mobilisation Initiative for Learning through Exposure). The programme takes the youth through an enriching and rigorous journey of self-discovery, in which the youth is introduced to a transformative learning experience, especially through the lenses of Peace and Sustainability – helping them emerge as Global Citizens equipped with a strong sense to build a more peaceful and sustainable society.

The programme aims to build a systemic learning environment on Education for Peace and Sustainable Development where the learner eventually becomes empowered and further goes on to transform society by reaching out to a larger base of youth.


Talking Across Generations 2016—Can education radicalize youth for peace?

By Sigrid Lupieri, Public Information Officer, UNESCO MGIEP

15 February, New Delhi—From heated debates on the value of education, to the first live concert by Pakistani and Indian bands Junoon and Indian Ocean, UNESCO MGIEP’s Talking Across Generations 2016 edition drew more than 500 participants. For those who missed it, this year’s theme focused on the role of education in preventing and combating violent extremism around the world.
Held at the India Habitat Centre in central Delhi, the event opened with a panel discussion on the theme “Can education radicalize youth for peace?” Addressing a packed auditorium, Dr. Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, director of UNESCO MGIEP, said this year’s topic arose from witnessing increasing violence against civilians based on such criteria as religion, caste and gender. “The use of the word ‘radicalize’ is intentional,” Duraiappah said. “We feel that education systems today aren’t able to address this.”
Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator and the UN’s top official in India, stressed the risks that countries face when societies do not grant their young people opportunities and a future. One of these risks is that frustration can boil over into violence. A young population, however, also presents an opportunity. “When we are young we have the clarity to see things which become fuzzy when we get older and we realize that there are about 50 shades of black,” he said.
According to Afanasiev, a well-structured education system is not ideologically driven, but allows young people to ask questions and gives them the tools and abilities to find answers for themselves. Education systems should also ensure that young people are able to navigate and critically assess the large amounts of information available to them anytime, anywhere. “There is so much misinformation out there,” he said. “Sometimes in life we need to empty our minds and start again.”
Dr. Karan Singh, chairman of the UNESCO MGIEP governing board and member of India’s Upper House of Parliament, said that education needs to provide values and a framework through which to assess the world. “From information we need to construct knowledge, from knowledge we need to construct wisdom,” he said.
The panel discussion, moderated by NHK senior commentator Aiko Doden, focused on the personal experiences and backgrounds of the panellists—ranging from Afghanistan to South Sudan. Awista Ayub, an Afghani-American who heads the South Asia Programme of Seeds of Peace, said that young people must learn to hold on to their cultural identities while also accepting perspectives different from their own. Palestinian-Syrian activist Salim Salamah said he felt that the Syrian education system had let its young people down by not preparing new generations for change and for promoting a culture of authoritarianism.

Graphic recording of the TAG 2016 discussion session
Graphic recording of the TAG 2016 discussion session

For 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. According to the last panellist, Dr. Liz Jackson, an assistant professor at Hong Kong University, education is about countering prejudice and apathy—also forms of extremism.
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 Pravah and Commutiny the Youth Collective (CYC). 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 the TAG’s signature, town-hall style debate among young people, policy-makers and UN officials. This time, however, the debate culminated in a youth statement, which will be presented in upcoming international youth forums 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.
At the end of the day, Junoon and Indian Ocean gave a rousing performance, playing their respective hits “Sayonee” and “Kandisa”. Combining their signature blend of rock music, Sufi mysticism and sweeping folk melodies, the two bands, playing together for the first time, embodied the spirit of cross-cultural understanding in a time of fraught Indo-Pakistani relations. In the crammed auditorium, after a day of debates on education and peace, fans stood up and danced, and demanded an encore.