On eve of 100-day countdown to International Day of Peace, UN chief flags key role of education

12 Jun 2013

On eve of 100-day countdown to International Day of Peace, UN chief flags key role of education

NEW YORK On the eve of the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on “everyone – whether governments, parties to conflicts, religious institutions, community leaders, the media, academics, or civil society groups – to play their part” in creating a universal culture of peace.

“We must support peace education programmes, protect students and teachers from conflict, help rebuild schools destroyed by war, and ensure all girls and boys have access to a quality education that includes learning about resolving and preventing conflicts,” Mr. Ban said in his message marking the countdown to the Day.

First observed in September 1982, the International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by a resolution of the UN General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September. In 2001, the Assembly voted unanimously to establish 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire.

The Day offers an opportunity for the world to pause, reflect and consider how best to break the vicious cycle of violence that conflict creates, with the United Nations using the occasion to call on all combatants around the world to lay down their arms and to give peace a real chance.

The theme for the Day this year is ‘Education for Peace,’ and, through various activities around the globe, the world body will examine the role education can play in fostering global citizenship.

“It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count,” Mr. Ban said in his message. “Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies.”

The UN chief noted that this kind of learning is a central focus of his Global Education First Initiative (GEIF). Launched in September 2012, the Initiative is a five-year initiative sponsored by the Secretary-General, which aims to generate a renewed push to achieve internationally-agreed education goals set for 2015 and get the world back on track to meeting its education commitments.

The GEIF’s three priorities are: putting every child into school, improving the quality of learning and fostering global citizenship.

According to the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), despite positive changes in the education sector since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, three million Afghan children remain out of school. Of these, 70 per cent are girls.