Kuala Lumpur—In close collaboration with youth networks and organizations in Malaysia, UNESCO MGIEP launched its first Malaysia chapter of the YESPeace Network on 24 May. YESPeace—the Youth for Education, Sustainability and Peace—Network provides young people and youth networks with a platform to share their ideas and to work together towards global citizenship, peace and sustainable development.
UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, who launched the YESPeace Malaysia Chapter together with Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said that it is important to listen to young people’s views and opinions about education especially during challenging times. “The voices, energy and ideas of young people have never been as important as they are today, in a world that is transforming, getting younger every day,” Bokova said.
The event, which was held at the symbolic setting of Merdeka Square, where Malaysia proclaimed its independence on 31 August 1957, coincided with Malaysia’s annual Hari UNESCO Day celebrations. Throughout the day, young Malaysians attended music and dance shows and participated in an art competition. “Hari UNESCO Day aspires to bring together people of diverse religions and cultures towards a common and shared vision,” Muhyiddin said. “We must have the courage to embrace diversity, and to draw strength from it.”
After the launch, close to 40 young participants gathered for a brainstorming session to understand the challenges youth face in Malaysia—including rising rates of depression and a static education system— and to come up with strategies to spread the word about the YESPeace Network Malaysia Chapter. Participants recommended creating a local youth advisory board led by young people from across the country to engage with one another and, eventually, with young people from around the world.
The YESPeace Network 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 and provides young people with access to policymakers and to the arenas where policies are enacted. While the global launch of the YESPeace Network took place at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Nagoya, Japan, last year, Malaysia has taken the lead on launching the Network’s first national chapter.
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