International Day of Peace: UN calls for investment in peace education


Education is vital for building peaceful societies and fostering global citizenship, senior United Nations officials today said marking the International Day of Peace with calls for greater investment in quality education and to reverse trends which show aid for schools and teachers dipping for the first time in a decade.

“On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day (full speech available below).

“Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity. Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might,” Mr. Ban noted highlighting this year’s theme, ‘Education for Peace.’

He recalled the words on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl targeted by the Taliban for campaigning for the right to education, during her visit to the UN Headquarters in New York in June, “One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.”

Mr. Ban called for “bold political leadership and increased financial commitment” to reverse a decline in aid for education, and urged new partnerships to reach the poorest and most marginalized children.

To accelerate progress towards universal education, Mr. Ban launched last year his Global Education First Initiative, whose Secretariat is hosted by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

There are currently 57 million children that do not have access to education, and millions more that need better schooling that go beyond the basis of reading and writing.

Education must encompass the teaching of human rights, living together and respect for others, said Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General.

“Every child in the world should know their rights, and learn their own history and that of other peoples, so as to be able to understand the equal dignity of cultures and draw lessons from the crimes and violence of the past,” Ms. Bokova said in her message for the Day.

Ahead of today’s official observance, the UN Headquarters in New York marked International Peace Day on 18 September with the ringing of the Peace Bell in the Rose Garden. A gift from Japan, the Peace Bell has tolled every year in a solemn call for peace since 1981, when the General Assembly established the Day to coincide with the opening of its annual debate in September. The high-level portion of the debate is due to begin on Tuesday.

At the ceremony, the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly, John Ashe, stressed  the importance of education as a “path to growth and development”. He added that education which teaches the value of peace is a key preventative means of reducing war and conflict.

The International Day of Peace was first established by the General Assembly in 1981 as an opportunity for people around the world to promote the resolution of conflict and to observe a cessation of hostilities.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on September 21, 2013:

The International  Day of Peace is a time for reflection – a day when we reiterate our belief in  non-violence and call for a global ceasefire.  We ask people everywhere to observe a minute  of silence, at noon local time, to honour those killed in conflict and the survivors  who live with daily trauma and pain.

This year we are  highlighting Education for Peace.  Education  is vital for fostering global citizenship and building peaceful societies.  

In June, Malala  Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl targeted for assassination by the Taliban  for campaigning for the right to education, came to the United Nations.  Malala said: “One teacher, one book, one pen,  can change the world.”  These are our  most powerful weapons. 

That is why, last  year, I launched the Global Education First Initiative.  Every  girl and every boy deserves to receive a quality education and learn the values  that will help them to see themselves as part of a global community.

Governments and  development partners are working to get every child in school and learning well  to equip them for life in the 21st century.  There is new momentum in countries with the  greatest needs, such as those affected by conflict, which are home to half of  all children lacking education.  But we  must do more – much more.  Fifty-seven  million children are still denied an education.   Millions more need better schooling.

Educating the  poorest and most marginalized children will require bold political leadership  and increased financial commitment.  Yet  aid for education has dropped for the first time in a decade.  We must reverse this decline, forge new  partnerships, and bring much greater attention to the quality of education.

On this  International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of  tolerance and mutual respect.  Let us  invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world  that embraces diversity.  Let us fight  for peace and defend it with all our might.

Ban Ki-moon

Source: United Nations

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