Peace at the heart of education

Synopsis: Pandemic has increased the social divisions. To overcome social divisions and promote peace, India should promote education.


On October 2, everyone gathers to celebrate the ideals of peace by marking the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. The day presents an opportunity to explore the causes of violence and reassert a commitment to building a culture of dialogue through education.

How the pandemic increased social divisions?

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new forces of division globally. Levels of hate speech and fear of the ‘other’ have grown, as people have assigned blame for the virus.

Forms of structural violence – economic, racial and gendered forms- have been aggravated as marginalised groups have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic.

What are the root causes of human animosity?

In ‘Pathways for peace’, a flagship 2018 report by the World Bank and the United Nations, it was shown that many of the world’s conflicts arise from exclusion and feelings of injustice.

How one can promote peace?

Promoting education: UNESCO advocates education as a way to strengthen social equity. As it can impart the skills and values necessary to recognise and prevent potential conflicts and promote tolerance.

According to an educator, “Preventing war is the work of politicians, establishing peace is the work of educationists”.

How India is promoting peace through education?

The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 presents a unique opportunity to contribute to strengthening equity, justice and social cohesion. The policy has a broad focus on value-based and experiential education, including promoting critical thinking, cultural exchanges, teaching in regional languages, and a commitment to education for all.

As schools reopen, peace education can be even more integrated within national curricula and the broader learning environment to promote non-violence.

Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise 
How can India promote peace through education?

Providing necessary skills: Teachers and educators need to be equipped with skills to promote peace through experiential and interactive methods.

Adopting global best practices: UNESCO’s work to promote media and information literacy and sports for peace equips youth with skills to eradicate harmful stereotypes and stand up against injustice. So, India can also provide skills to youth.

Further, India can focus on inclusion. UNESCO highlights the need to recognise and improve opportunities for disadvantaged groups, like women and girls and persons with disabilities.

Beyond discussions around innovation, technology and smart future schools, India needs to understand the potential of education systems and schools in building peaceful societies.

Source:  This post is based on the article “Peace at the heart of education” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2021.

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