New Delhi, 25 November – The need for inclusive and innovative education was the key themes of the inaugural UNESCO MGIEP (Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development) Distinguished Lecture, presented by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in New Delhi.
The event, presided by Dr Karan Singh, Chair of MGIEP's Governing Board and India's Representative to UNESCO's Executive Board, was attended by pupils from several New Delhi schools, university students, representatives from academic and research institutions, dignitaries from the government and non-government organisations, and international diplomatic missions.
The Director-General underscored the special relationship between UNESCO and India, which, she said, is entering into a new phase with “an ever sharper focus on the power of education,” as a means of overcoming growing inequalities and achieving sustainable societies.
“Real sustainability goes beyond the reach of States,” Ms Bokova said. “it must be grounded in the rights and dignity of every woman and man, in their abilities, skills and behaviours, in their capacity to transform their lives, anticipate the future, make the most of change.”
“This starts with education,” she said, along with stronger policies, especially towards marginalized populations, to ensure that nobody misses out.
“We have made significant advances in healthcare, education, and quality of life, but there remain far too many people who do not share these advances,” the Director-General said.
“Societies can be healthy, and governments can be effective, only if they are inclusive, if they bring every citizen together – every woman and man, all young people, especially the most marginalized,” she added.
To this end, the Institute “can make a decisive contribution” said the Director-General. “I am convinced the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace is a model platform for the innovation that all societies need today, to foster new skills for new times. The future will be built here and on the benches of schools,” Ms Bokova concluded.
"The idea that the world is a family is deeply embedded in Indian philosophy, said Dr Karan Singh, who confided that he had once met Mahatma Gandhi. "It is now becoming a reality. We have to move towards the concept of a global society. The importance of education for peace and sustainable development has become more and more critical. This Institute should become a hub of new thinking on these issues, especially in Asia."
Earlier in the day, the Director-General visited MGIEP's premises, where she met with Director Anantha Duraiappah, the staff and members of the Executive Committee. Mr Durraiappah explained that MGIEP is focusing on strengthening curricula to embed peace, sustainability and global citizenship into mainstream subjects; innovative learning pedagogies using games; the engagement of youth through the YesPeace network launched in Nagoya, and facilitating global dialogue on transformative learning.
The UNESCO MGIEP is a joint initiative of UNESCO and the Government of India. It was founded in November 2012, with the aim of mobilising youth to promote and foster greater understanding of peace, sustainable development and global citizenship through formal and non-formal teaching and learning. It is the first such UNESCO institute in India and the first in the Asia-Pacific region.