Building peace in the minds of men and women

Learning for new times: Promoting the rule of law through education

08 March 2019

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At a time when societies are increasingly polarised, how can schools provide a model of responsible engagement for young people to promote peaceful and inclusive societies?

“Education for global citizenship plays in important role in cultivating a sense of shared responsibility for our common future. It is vital to re-affirm key shared values such as of inclusion and peace, to build new forms of solidarity based on human rights, and tolerance,” stressed UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, Ms Stefania Giannini in the opening of the WISE@Paris Forum on 20 February 2019 at UNESCO headquarters.

The importance of values was echoed by the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the State of Qatar to UNESCO, H.E. Mr. Ali Zainal, who highlighted in his opening remarks that “teaching respect for human beings is essential, especially between men and woman.”

The new UNESCO-UNODC publication, titled Strengthening the Rule of Law through Education: A Guide for Policymakers was unveiled at the WISE@Paris Forum on Educations Future: Fostering Learning Societies. The joint publication explores the role of education institutions can play in promoting the rule of law and building new forms of engagement based on global citizenship, human rights and inclusion.  Discussions at the Forum highlighted that education is fundamental for developing key values in children and youth, so that they are able to support and engage in just and inclusive societies.

As Dov Lynch, Chief of Section on Global Citizenship Education at UNESCO stated, ‘We need education for new times. In today’s interconnected and globalized society, learning to living together peacefully is essential, and education’s role in this regard is more vital than ever. “ 

Challenges today require novel ways to tackle issues and new forms of collaborations across different sectors, such as is embodied by the partnership developed between UNESCO and UNODC on Global Citizenship Education for the Rule of Law: Doing the Right Thing.

Marco Teixeira, Senior Programme Officer at UNODC  highlighted that “this partnership brings together UNESCO’s work on GCED and UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) initiative under the Global Program for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, to advance the implementation Sustainable Development Goals 4 on quality education and 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.”

For schools to foster transformational engagement, this requires a holistic approach where a range of actors reinforce values such as of inclusion, respect for the rule of law and peace. In her wrap up, Elodie Beth-Seo, Senior Project Officer at UNESCO, called on the individual responsibility of each individual to “Start this change today in our homes, schools and our communities.”

Having said that, students can only acquire the values of global citizenship on one condition: the presence of trained and motivated teachers who provide role models. 

The WISE@Paris Forum at UNESCO also included another round of discussions on the empowerment of teachers in the 21st century. Discussants explored how countries can fulfil their commitments under the Incheon Declaration to “empower teachers and educators, ensure that they are adequately recruited, well trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems."

UNESCO is working on these two fronts to equip teachers and learners for new times – by promoting global citizenship education that puts forward values of inclusion and respect for the rule of law, as well as by helping countries bridge the teacher gap and set common standards for teacher qualifications.