THE EARTH TIMES/UN AT 50
OCTOBER 24, 1995
EDUCATION FOR PEACE
UNESCO IN ARGENTINA
‘Providing new generations a capacity to build’
By Ashali Varma
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: 0 Federico Mayor believes in the importance of education with a passion that goes beyond rhetoric, and he will go to any lengths to convince a bureaucrat, a child or a head of state of how “education is much more than instruction, information and learning; it is the awakening of the fantastic creative potential of the human being.”
At the Ibero-American Summit held in San Carlos de Bariloche, 21 heads of state met to discuss the crucial role of education in regional development, integration and stability from October-16-17.
In his speech, Mayor, the Director General of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), called on nations to invest at least 6 percent of gross domestic product in education by the end of the century. He offered Unesco’s cooperation for developing education in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Unesco was one of the first organizations to be set up after the birth of United Nations and Mayor feels it is important to remember that 50 years ago the Constitution of Unesco stated, “The wide diffusion of culture, and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of man and constitute a sacred duty which all the nations must fulfil in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern.”
Mayor feels it is even more relevant today than it was in 1945. He points out that education is the most critical link between democracy, development and peace and Unesco is the institution set up to promote “peace in the minds of men,” as written by Archibald MacLeish for the organization’s charter.
In an interview with The Earth Times, Mayor said, “In my view this peace, this attitude of understanding and non-violence must be forged. Human beings are not born with a trend of violence. When they grow up in social and ideological conditions, which are dogmatic and they feel that they should impose as they have been imposed upon, then it leads to violence.”
He is quick to point out that an educated mind is not submissive. “I like rebels but they don’t have to impose by force. Arguments can be stronger but never with violence.” Mayor believes that education is an important vehicle to remove dogma and fanaticism and help people to understand differences in culture and religion. “All religions are based on love.”
He said that, “We need reasons to live more than facilities to live. Those who have nothing, value the things we take for granted, like water, food, shelter. It is important to educate children to know the value of the things they take for granted.”
In order for children all over the world to learn more about UN activities, Unesco along with UN50 and UN associations has organized a Global Teach-In during the month of October.
Specially developed educational material in several languages have been sent to educational institutions in many countries so that teachers can conduct compelling and lively classes on the UN, its history and its global agenda.
While world leaders see the value of education for economic development; Mayor sees education as a “liberating force” which makes possible each citizen’s effective participation in democracy and peace.
“Only education provides to the new generation the capacity to build, to invent, and to create their future,” he said adding, “Only with education for all, is it possible to reduce the asymmetries and injustices that constitute the root of the conflicts and conflagrations at the international and intra-national levels.”