UNESCO MGIEP

UNESCO MGIEP discusses future of education, using core ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi

January 28, 2020

In celebration of the International Day of Education, the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) hosted ‘A Dialogue with Gandhi’ in Delhi featuring a highly interactive panel discussion with renowned experts and a life-size hologram of Mahatma Gandhi on ‘The Future of Education’.

The discussions revolved around the meaning of education in today’s world and measures that need to be undertaken if the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 – of ensuring ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’ and promoting ‘lifelong learning opportunities’ for all, are to be achieved.

The panel also discussed the critical need to inculcate the emotional as well as cognitive aspects in our education systems to build competencies of empathy, compassion and kindness in the young – if they are to become citizens, who promote sustainable peace.

Ms. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, former Minister of Education, France; Dr. Karan Singh, distinguished politician, philanthropist, poet and former Chair of the Governing Board, UNESCO MGIEP; and Kuany, Author and Associate Project Officer – Youth Programme, specializing in Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education (PVE-E) partook in the discussions with Gandhi focusing on the key competencies that need to be inculcated in education systems in pursuit of more peaceful and sustainable societies. The dialogue was moderated by Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP. The event saw attendance by over 400 participants, including teachers, educators, students, academicians and policymakers.

UNESCO MGIEP

The Dialogue was opened by Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Minister of Human Resource Development,  Government of India, who highlighted the importance of promoting the Gandhian values of peace and non-violence to build a culture of sustainable peace in the world.

Pokhriyal stated, “Academic success, while important, cannot be the end goal of our education system. Education must pursue a grander goal; an education for human flourishing. If real societal change is to be achieved, Gandhiji’s learnings will need to be built into our education systems and exemplified in our daily lives.’”

The panel discussion commenced with a standing hologram of Gandhi, who spoke for 7 minutes about the ideologies of Gandhi.

Further, Dr. Karan Singh said, “When we look at the state of the world today, we realise we need future leaders who are not just brilliant in their leadership and intellectual skills; instead we need emotionally resilient, kind, compassionate and empathetic leaders – leaders such as Gandhiji. How can we empower the young to emulate and practice the qualities Gandhiji stood so strongly for? I think our education systems can play an imperative role in introducing such qualities at a young age.”

A unique aspect of the dialogue was a youth perspective on the panel. Kuany noted the qualities of Gandhi that inspired him, stating, “I bumped into the Mahatma almost a decade ago while striving to fill the emptiness of schooling through self-education. I took and ran with inquiry or experimentation and nonviolence from his corpus. My regret is that, up until then, my years in school had failed to equip me with the tools necessary to think for myself and curate values that would enable me to coexist harmoniously on this beautiful planet. I, therefore, thank Gandhi for the light and hope that the students of today and the future will not have to look back and regret the consequences of such an archaic, torturous, intellectually sedative and emotionally numbing experience that is most schooling.”

Commenting on the dialogue series, Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP, said, “For a better future, we must not just focus on an education that builds human capital but one that connects the cognitive and emotion for human and societal flourishing”. He further added, “An enemy is just a misunderstood friend. Unless our present education systems embrace building emotional intelligence, we might end up in a world of highly literate people who lack empathy and are only concerned with their own well being. This is not sustainable and will not build peaceful and sustainable societies.”

Organised by the UNESCO MGIEP, the dialogue was held in commemoration of the International Day of Education. A similar dialogue was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi.

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