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SHEET 16 - EDUCATION FOR PEACE, HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

During the first two decades following the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it became apparent that their principles were in danger of remaining little more than empty platitudes.  It was not difficult to find situations throughout the world where their noble goals and values were honoured more in the breach than in the observance.  If these principles were to have life, the leaders in each society, and especially the educators, would have to take active steps to promote them.

 RECOMMENDATION 74

Hence, in 1974, UNESCO adopted the "Recommendation Concerning Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace, and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms", known as Recommendation 74.  It set out seven objectives as guiding principles for education policy in member countries:

 PRACTISES IN CANADA INSPIRED BY RECOMMENDATION 74

The 1974, Recommendation stimulated a great deal of new activity in the field of education for international understanding in the years that followed.  Here in Canada, educators developed many new initiatives in education for global education and for multiculturalism and antiracism in school jurisdictions across the country, as well as in adult and community-based education programmes.  Many of these were responses to our own changing demographic profile and the need to assist fellow Canadians, in schools and in our broader communities, to manage social change.

 Across the country, educators gave new emphasis to race and ethnic relations in the school system, issues of equity, Aboriginal education, and environmental concerns.  In many cases, they situated domestic issues in their global context, demonstrating how changing economic, social, and demographic trends in Canada were related to changing international conditions. 

One of the most interesting initiatives was the Global Education Program launched in 1987 by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  Global education is a broad term for interdisciplinary programs dealing with themes of social and economic development, sus tainability, human rights, peace and security, and the environment.  Education methodologies stress cooperation, democratic decision-making, and innovative approaches to solving problems.  CIDA placed special emphasis on supporting education systems to develop programs in elementary and secondary schools.  Teachers, department officials, trustees, universities, and development organizations cooperated to design the activities, which included curriculum development, publications, teacher education courses, and exchanges.  Several recent research and pedagogical initiatives in the faculties of education have been inspired by this programme.

 Twenty years after the 1974 Recommendation, in October 1994, the International Conference on Education in Geneva reaffirmed its objectives, and added:

 Education must develop the ability to recognize and accept the values which exist in the diversity of individuals, genders, peoples and cultures and develop the ability to communicate, share and co-operate with others.

 Education must reinforce personal identity and should encourage the convergence of ideas and solutions which strengthen peace, friendship and solidarity between individuals and people.

 Education must develop the capacity for non-violent conflict-resolution.  It should therefore also promote the development of inner peace in the minds of students so that they can establish more firmly the qualities of tolerance, compassion, sharing and caring.

 Education should cultivate feelings of solidarity and equity at the national and international levels in the perspective of a balanced and long term development.

 We still have some distance to go here in Canada to achieve the inclusion of these principles and values everywhere.   Currently, there is a great deal of public concern over violence, both in our schools and in the international arena.  School is an excellent place to learn, among other things, to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner, to develop a sense of interdependence and to become a responsible citizen, but it is not the only place.

 In the context of an increasingly interdependent world, the integrating concept of a culture of peace gives meaning to an education which will include all these aspects together.  Below is a diagram which connects the various aspects of education, including intercultural education, with the intention of reminding us of the principles and values that it takes to become a responsible citizen at the local, national and global levels.

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Building a culture of peace is a process which has as its goal the creation of relationships based on trust and cooperation between individuals and between nations.  This means, among other things, the use of dialogue instead of violence and the resolution of conflicts in a peaceful manner.  This is not only a concern of countries in crisis; it should become the preoccupation of every society.

 WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES:  do our education systems give sufficient emphasis to promoting the skills, values, attitudes, and behaviours necessary for building a culture of peace?   Have fiscal constraints and a focus on the “core curriculum” reduced the priority given to these objectives in our schools?  What programs are there in our communities to promote these objective among adults?

 UNESCO has established a permanent system for reporting on Education for Peace, Human Rights, Democracy, International Understanding and Tolerance.  The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) has reported twice on behalf of Canada on our country’s performance.  UNESCO produces syntheses of the national reports that allow comparisons to be made with other countries.  In the last report, “The Global Classroom”, prepared in 1994, CMEC reported a great deal of progress and many new initiatives in educational jurisdictions across Canada.

How well have we performed since then?  Do you have an opinion and information to share?  CMEC will be gathering views and information for the next report throughout 1999.   Consider how you can contribute to this assessment, either as an individual or through your organization, association, or network.

 RESOURCES

Visit the CMEC Web site at http://www.cmec.ca/international/indexe.stm
There you will find the questionnaire prepared by UNESCO which CMEC will be using to prepare its next report on Education for Peace, Human Rights, Democracy, International Understanding and Tolerance in Canada.

 See also: "The Global Classroom: Appraisal and Perspectives on Education for International Understanding," Canadian Report.  Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, and Human Resources Development Canada, 1994.