New Delhi, September 19— The energy in the room was palpable as the Peacock Convention Centre at Aerocity filled to its maximum capacity for MGIEP’s Talking Across Generations on Education (TAGe) session on September 19 at the UNESCO International Conference on the Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) through Education: Taking Action.
More than 200 senior education policy makers joined 50 youth delegates from across the globe for a no-holds barred dialogue on the PVE through education, moderated by critically-acclaimed author and educator Irshad Manji and Anamika Gupta from the MGIEP.
The dialogue picked up from where the 6-week-long preceding discussions on MGIEP’s social media platforms left off: exploring definitions of extremism, dissecting push-and-pull factors of radicalisation and examining the role of education in its prevention.
Drawing from their own experiences, the youth delegates highlighted that while schools should be safe spaces for debates, the role of informal learning can’t be undermined. “Experiences outside my classroom had a stronger contribution in shaping who I am today,” shared Andreas Nath Hirsch, a youth delegate from Germany while revealing how deeply the recent attacks in Munich had affected him.
While debating the impact of education on the PVE, Rafiullah Kakar, a young scholar from a conflict-ridden region of Pakistan narrated how the kind of education he was exposed to reinforced prejudices rather than encouraging him to question them. “I used to wait for the latest propaganda videos from the Taliban with the same enthusiasm that the youth wait for their favourite films; I idolised them and their extremist ideology,” he recalled.
Policy-makers took the dialogue a step further by underscoring the need to examine the push-and-pull factors of radicalisation and to deconstruct commonly-used terms in the dialogue on PVE such as ‘violent’ and ‘terrorism’. “What is the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter,” questioned Professor KP Mohanan of the IISER, Pune. But it was the youth that really led the dialogue by sharing several revealing insights. “In the absence of safe spaces for open and transparent dialogue, violence has become a form of communication,” pointed out Camille Abbygaelle Moreau from France.
Urging that the discussion on PVE not steer clear of certain uncomfortable but critical realities, the participants urged that the nexus between politics, religion and violent extremism not be glossed over.
“Let us recognise that the customs that hurt people don’t deserve to be tolerated, they deserve to be challenged,” concluded Irshad Manji.
The discussion, which was also live streamed, received a very enthusiastic response on social media with the hastag #PVEConf trending on twitter in India with over 23 million impressions during the TAGe session.
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Related news articles and videos:
–Watch the TAGe New Delhi Video
–Watch the PVE Conference video summary
—View the best images of the conference in our gallery