Education is about human rights and dignity: The Director-General of UNESCO at MGIEP’S YOUTH TOWNHALL

31st August, 2017 | UNESCO New Delhi office, New Delhi, INDIA

The UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institution of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) organised a YOUTH TOWNHALL on Harnessing the Indian Youth Demographic Bulge for a True Dividend: Vision to action for the 21st Century on Thursday 31st August, 2017 from 10:30 – 11: 15 am at the UNESCO corporate office in New Delhi, India.

The Youth for Education, Sustainability and Peace (YESPeace) Network, a collaborative effort led by UNESCO MGIEP spearheaded this Youth TownHall by providing a platform to the youth to discuss key issues concerning their future with senior policy makers.

The Youth TownHall was addressed by Ms Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO and Dr Karan Singh, Chair, UNESCO MGIEP and moderated by Mr Abhishek Mazumdar, Founder, The Logical Indian. The main focus of this TownHall was on how education systems can play a key role in empowering young people to address the challenges of the 21st century and how the voices of the young can be mainstreamed into policymaking.

Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP, in his introductory remarks, stressed upon the requirement to bring in more voice of the youth into policymaking. He was quoted as saying “It’s time we move over from “youth washing” and youth tokenism to real participation of youth in policymaking.”

The Youth TownHall was highly interactive and engaging. Students from schools across India, colleges, teachers and youth practitioners working in the domain of education discussed on the role of socio-emotional skills and competencies for 21st century. While discussing on the role of technology in education, concerns were raised around access of technology to all students in India. Additionally, students shared how they felt that the present education system in India needs to evolve and make significant progress in adopting technology across schools and colleges. Ms Bokova mentioned that, “Both connectivity and content are important for the future of education and stressed that, “We have to make education a priority for the governments. That is what we (UNESCO) strive to do”. Dr Singh added to this further by mentioning that “we have to have at least 6% of GDP in India allocated to education.”

Through an interactive exchange, UNESCO MGIEP with its partner organisations, Creya Learning, STEPS, Pravah, CYC, Red Elephant Foundation, Blue Ribbon Movement, brought together the youth of India (from high schools, universities and various organisations).

Mr. Mazumdar in the closing remarks of the discussion highlighted that “Young people world-over need to be mainstreamed into policymaking discussions” and that “education systems need to provide the youth with soft skills in order to make them ready for the future.”

YESPeace is a network of networks that connects youth and youth organisations working in the areas of education, peace, sustainable development and global citizenship. For the latest updates, sign up to the YESPeace Network and join the YESPeaceNetwork on Facebook.

Event images

Key quotes from the event

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Related articles and links:

The Logical Indian

Times of India

YESPeace Network

YESPeace India launch

YESPeace Malaysia launch

YESPeace South Africa launch

YESPeace Pakistan launch

For further details / information, please contact:

  • Piyali Sarkar Debnath, Programme Officer, YESPeace (
  • Akriti Mehra, Communications Specialist (
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