By UNESCO MGIEP
Youth Voices: Sowing Peace: One Mind at a time

August, 2017 | New Delhi, India

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of young people needs to change from being mere beneficiaries to becoming active partners in implementing and monitoring the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To celebrate the International Youth Day, 2017, the Youth for Education, Sustainability and Peace (YESPeace) Network is bringing together voices of youth from around the world with a focus on SDG 4, Target 7. Through a series of opinion pieces and blogs highlighting innovative work of various youth organisations, we will showcase the youth’s perspective on education systems from across the globe.

Sowing Peace: One Mind at a time

Add one spoon of peace to your education

From Economy-worthy  to Empathy-driven: Peace is the Bridge

What comes to your mind when I say “education”? Reading? Writing? Or is it Arithmetic? For the longest time, the world has suffered – yes, suffered – with the understanding of what education means. There is so much attention attached to the literacy component in education, to the extent that people think of education itself as all about making more and more people literate. While that does serve a greater purpose and centres around building economy-worthy people who have the ability to add to the world’s monetary capacity, it stops short of adding to the empathy that this world could gain a lot from having. By emphasizing on the idea of economically empowering people to take on better jobs and augment the productivity of the economy, we have not invested much in education for the greater interests of peace. A social climate of peace can thrive only if there is a communal approach to it through education, but not just literacy-driven education – rather, peace education.  

Everyone in today’s generation is fighting a war on borrowed hatred. Think about it. Samuel Huntington was incredibly correct that culture, ethnicity and such individual identity markers would come to sustain differences of opinion. War is deemed good for business and the coffers of a select few enablers, and that vested interest keeps an agenda of promoting hatred as the norm going. Terrorist outfits are feeding off the combined effect of marginalization and borrowed hatred. The world is burning with hatred that is only kept alive through incorrect and education that is desperately in need of sensitization. Whole chapters in history are written by the victor’s hand. Still more are written through a male lens, ignoring myriads of women who have made significant and meaningful contributions through untiring efforts.  

We strive to create peaceful people, through peaceful tools, peaceful language and peaceful ways to solve conflict. Conflict is inevitable, but, if we create a proclivity towards peace in people around us, we naturally choose peace, we naturally turn to peace, we naturally prioritize peace, and we don’t have place to escalate conflict at any level. Be it a bully in a classroom or two nations seeking ownership over territory. In that understanding, there is a very simple solution to finding peace in peace education.

Generations of students before me, along with me, and now, after me, have grown up without learning the most important values of life: of empathy, of choosing peace and compassion over hatred and violence, of choosing equality, tolerance and respect for one’s identity as they are instead of pushing constant agendas of ideals and non-conformism attracting mistreatment. What if we taught non-violent communication while teaching rules of grammar, syntax and semantics? What if we taught history with the right telling, and with the agenda to prevent repetition of history’s egregious failings? What if we taught geography against the landscape of actual equality – where we learned lessons from the earth’s diversity and imbibed it as positive lessons for peace? What if we taught practical ways to use numbers in a way that had practical solutions to deter from conflict and choose peace instead?

Opinion Feature author: Ms. Kirthi JAYAKUMAR

Ms. Kirthi JAYAKUMAR is the founder of Red elephant Foundation, a partner organisation of the YESPeace Network-India Chapter. She is also an author, artist, actor and activist for peace and gender. She is based in Chennai, India.

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In commemoration of the International Youth Day, on the 12th August, 2017, UNESCO MGIEP is conducting various activities throughout the month of August 2017:

  • Gathering and sharing Opinion Features from Youth on the future of education
  • Organising a Partners meeting with the UN Youth Envoy, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake
  • Providing a platform to the youth to interact with the Director-General, UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova through a Youth Townhall during Ms. Bokova’s visit to India

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.

For details / more information, write to us at yespeace.mgiep@unesco.org

Please also join the YESPeace Network community on Facebook.

Related articles and links:

Red Elephant Foundation

UNESCO MGIEP’S YOUTH TOWNHALL On Harnessing the Indian Youth Demographic Bulge for a True Dividend: Vision to action for the 21st Century

YESPeace Network

YESPeace India launch

YESPeace Malaysia launch

YESPeace South Africa launch

YESPeace Pakistan launch

For more information, contact:

Ms. Piyali SARKAR DEBNATH– Programme Officer (p.sarkar@unesco.org)

Ms. Akriti MEHRA – Communications Specialist (a.mehra@unesco.org)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this Opinion Peace do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of UNESCO MGIEP.

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