UNESCO global networking for education to prevent violent extremism

23 April 2018

UNESCO organised a Preliminary Consultation on inter-institutional cooperation on the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education (PVE-E), on 18-19 April at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This was led by UNESCO’s Section for Global Citizenship and Peace Education, Division for Peace and Sustainable Development in the Education Sector.

The Consultation brought together representatives from over 22 actors and institutions engaged in PVE-E – including UNDP, UNODC, the World Bank-CMI, ISESCO and OIF, as well as governmental and inter-governmental institutions, non-governmental organisations and foundations.

Three goals led discussions – first, to explore the range of efforts, approaches and practices being undertaken in PVE-E; second, to share experience and lessons learned; and, lastly, to explore options for greater networking and cooperation in PVE-E in support to the needs of Member States in regions across the world.

The starting point for the Consultation is a shared vision of the transformative power of education to create the conditions that make it difficult for violent extremist ideologies to proliferate and to develop the resilience of learners, especially young people, to violent extremist messaging. 

On this basis, the Consultation started with a mapping of the wide range of efforts being undertaken by actors and institutions with different mandates and approaches. This was followed by an exploration of definitions and regional perceptions of PVE-E, and a discussion on strengthening advocacy for and seeking investment in PVE in relation to CVE (countering), to identify the added value of preventive activities and sensitize IGOs and Member States on the importance of ‘prevention’.

On the second day, the discussion focused on sharing experience in evaluating the effectiveness of education to prevent violent extremism, laying the foundation for an exploration of the possible options for further networking on PVE-E. The need for greater information sharing, and further discussions on more targeted thematic aspects of PVE-E were highlighted, along with the need to share best practices as well as evaluation and monitoring experience.

This work supports the implementation of the Executive Board decision 197EX/46: ‘UNESCO’s role in promoting education as a tool to prevent violent extremism’ and the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. It also contributes to reaching the Target 4.7 on Global Citizenship Education of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Consultation also took place in the framework of UNESCO’s leading role as Co-Chair of the PVE Working Group, part of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.

UNESCO’s work on PVE-E is guided by the vision that education is one of the most effective ways to disarm the processes that can lead to violent extremism – by undermining ignorance, by fighting prejudice and discrimination, by building resilience to violent messages, by promoting active engagement for tolerance, dialogue.

This falls within the framework of Global Citizenship Education. Over the past years, the Organization published guidance for education stakeholders and organised several capacity-building and advocacy activities all over the world. Publications include: