International Day of Education - Learning for Lasting Peace
Tanatswa Hamadziripi (2023-24 Iowa UNA College Ambassador from Cornell College)
In 2018, the International Day of Education was created to recognize and educate on the role of education in bringing about global peace and sustainable development, and is commemorated annually on January 24th. This day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of education as a tool to prevent violence and genocide and to contribute to lasting peace.
Education is not only a human right and ensured in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is a key determinant of global gender equality and poverty along with peace. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989, dictated that countries should ensure higher education access to all. Quality education is also one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) countries committed to pursuing and achieving by 2030.
“According to national education targets, the percentage of students attaining basic reading skills by the end of primary school is projected to rise from 51 per cent in 2015 to 67 per cent by 2030. However, an estimated 300 million children and young people will still lack basic numeracy and literacy skills by 2030.”
Education reduces inequalities and is the driving force behind achieving many of the other SDGs. However, multiple challenges persist in providing quality access to education worldwide, and to women and girls especially. Therefore, each year, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) chooses a theme to draw attention to key issues within the realm of education. This year’s theme is “Learning for Lasting Peace”.
With this theme, UNESCO is targeting hate speech and shining a light on how teachers play a vital role in preventing it. In recent years, hate speech has increased significantly across the globe as conflicts and violence have surged. Hate speech fuels prejudice and can often enable violence when encouraged by global conflicts. Education is a powerful way to combat this.
Any harmful messages or conspiracy theories targeting specific groups and communities constitute hate speech. Education attacks this hate at its roots. On International Education Day, UNESCO held a one-day training to give teachers a toolkit to address hate speech among their students. UNESCO brought together ministers, educators, and leaders in the field to discuss the central role of education in global peace.
In collaboration with the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, UNESCO has produced a guidebook for policymakers, Addressing Hate Speech through Education. This guidebook provides a useful resource not only for policymakers but also teachers and all citizens. We encourage all teachers in our community to access this resource to help them learn to recognize and respond to hate speech by teaching students more constructive ways to express themselves. Addressing racism in teaching and teaching materials is also key in making education a vehicle for global peace.