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Learning for Lasting Peace: Building and Sustaining Peace through Education

Last update: 9 February 2024


24 January 2024, New York: Co-organized by UNESCO and the Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong Learning, the sixth global observance of the International Day of Education centered on the pivotal role of education in shaping sustainable, inclusive, and peaceful futures, championing global initiatives on education for peace. It brought together Member States, UN entities, non-governmental organizations, education stakeholders, and youths to explore priorities and challenges in lasting peace and global citizenship education.


Amid a global surge in conflicts and alarming increases in discrimination and hate speech, the International Day of Education reinforced stakeholders’ commitment to combat hate speech and promote digital citizenship through education. Building upon the principles outlined in the recently adopted UNESCO Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights, and Sustainable Development, the event aimed to raise awareness for effective approaches in education for peace and mobilize commitment for their implementation. 


In a dynamic high-level panel moderated by Richa Gupta, a Young Leader for the SDGs, Member States and UN high-officials came together to address pressing global education challenges. H.E. Dennis Francis, President of the 78th Session of the General Assembly, set the tone by highlighting the critical need for well-resourced education systems worldwide. He praised UNESCO's forward-thinking approach in empowering learners as catalysts for change, sentiments echoed by Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ms. Mohammed emphasized the urgency of bridging the financing gap for education and commended UNESCO and the Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong Learning for their dedication to prioritizing education at the UN Headquarters, and especially in discussions related to the Pact for the Future. 


Speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong, H.E. Martin Kimani, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN, urged increased international commitment to support developing countries in expanding access to education, ensuring no one is left behind. Recognizing progress and achievements from the Transforming Education Summit and SDG Summit and looking ahead to the upcoming Summit of the Future, he reaffirmed the Group’s dedication to spotlighting education as a transformative force for positive change in addressing modern challenges. Meanwhile, Ms. Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, recalled the principles outlined in the UNESCO Recommendation on Education for Peace, stressing the urgency to prioritize education in the Pact for the Future to effectively address global challenges. Delivering a key-note statement, H.E. Chernor Bah, Sierra Leone's Minister of Information and Civic Education, underscored education's enduring importance as a potent weapon against contemporary threats, showcasing Sierra Leone's commitment to education accessibility and collaboration with UNESCO to integrate sustainable solutions into the country's framework.


Innovative approaches: shaping a future of lasting peace through education


During the panel discussion, the crucial significance of innovative approaches in shaping a future of enduring peace through education was underscored. Panelists emphasized the urgent need to overhaul education systems to bolster resilience in crises and enhance educational quality, highlighting initiatives like the "Safe to Learn" coalition. Additionally, the significance of implementing UN Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace, and Security as a robust framework for sustainable peace was stressed, with a focus on the pivotal role of local stakeholders, including educators. The indispensable role of young people in peacebuilding and the urgency of investing in education and youth for a future of lasting peace were also highlighted, especially in anticipation of the upcoming Summit of the Future.


Moderated by Christopher Castle, Director of Division for Peace and Sustainable Development at UNESCO, the panel featured voices from diverse backgrounds. Youth advocates, including Emeline O'Hara from the Dangerous Speech Project and Felipe Paullier, Assistant Secretary-General for Youth Affairs, joined the discussion alongside esteemed panelists such as Charles North, Deputy CEO of the Global Partnership for Education, and Robert Jenkins, UNICEF’s Director of Education and Adolescent Development. Other notable speakers included Mavic Cabrera Balleza from the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, Julia Paulson from the Education Justice and Memory Network, and Anthony Jenkins from the International Institute on Peace Education.


The event was enriched by a musical interlude performed by Juilliard School students on the violin, and a poignant poem delivered by Salome Agbaroji, the 2023-2024 US National Youth Poet Laureate. Agbaroji's words resonated deeply, encapsulating a powerful symbol of their vision for a harmonious future that celebrates diversity:


"It is not enough to give a child a book. But they also need a palm oil tree to sit under, A glitter sky through which their kites can swim."


URL: https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/learning-lasting-peace-building-and-sustaining-peace-through-education