“Education, beleaguered by inequality and struggling to adapt to the demands of the 21st century, is in crisis. The impacts of this crisis manifest themselves over time and are often unseen. But they are profound and will be felt for decades. If we are to transform our world by 2030, as envisaged in the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community must give this crisis the attention it deserves”. This is what is emphasised in the UNSG Vision Statement on Transforming Education (2022) with reference to the role of education. It is therefore no coincidence that UNESCO is committed to raising awareness of the importance of peace – at all levels and on a global level – through education; the United Nations organisation in question is in fact an agency aimed at promoting peace and security in the world through international cooperation in the fields of education, the arts, science and culture. That’s it, the relationship between education and peace is inescapable: as claimed by UNESCO, the lack of quality and relevant education geared towards international understanding and cooperation, peace, human rights and fundamental freedoms undermines the efforts to address the root causes of violence and war in our contemporary world and build lasting peace. With this in mind, a revision of UNESCO’s Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the 1974 Recommendation) is in the pipeline. The new document aims at creating an updated social contract for education based on human rights, which can help remedy injustice and equip students of all ages with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and behaviour needed to shape a more peaceful, just and sustainable future; the revised text of the Recommendation will then be submitted for adoption at the 42nd session of the UNESCO General Conference.
It is in the wake of these themes and processes that the UNESCO General Assembly will hold its High Level Ministerial Dialogue on Education for Peace on Wednesday 8 November at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters. This event will kick off the opening of the Education Commission and will provide an opportunity for the member states to exchange views on the role of education in “building” world peace by sharing experiences on the subject. “For education to realise its transformative potential,” reads the presentation of the conference, “it must itself be transformed. The aim of the conference will therefore be to prepare the ground for the debates of the Education Commission, highlighting the key role of education in promoting lasting peace”. On Wednesday, a special guest is expected to speak alongside the Education Ministers of the member states and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay: Michelangelo Pistoletto, who will give a keynote. The artist will return to the French capital about a month after his last visit: as reported in a previous article, on 19 October he had been a guest at the UNESCO headquarters – together with his wife Maria Pioppi, Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassador Laura Salas Redondoand Alessandra Ammirati from Galleria Continua – and had met Giulio del Federico (First Secretary of the Permanent Representative of Italy at UNESCO), Stefania Giannini (UNESCO Deputy Director General) and Liborio Stellino (Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Italy at UNESCO). This occasion also led UNESCO to invite Pistoletto to speak at tomorrow’s conference: the founder of Cittadellarte will present his artistic practice, focusing on the concept of preventive peace (which will also be the title of his speech), explaining its meanings and its possible application in a macro dimension as well as in everyday life.