Last month, UNESCO member states – Australia amongst them – agreed to update a landmark 1974 Recommendation.
The Recommendation set out international principles and standards for education, and articulated education’s vital role in building international understanding, and preserving human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The 2023 update recognises that things have changed since 1974: concepts have evolved, inequalities have deepened, new challenges face us, and education itself has come a long way.
Amongst the evolving concepts is our understanding of what peace really is:
Peace is not just an absence of war and direct violence, but a positive and participatory process by which individuals and communities work together daily to build just, inclusive, healthy, sustainable and peaceful societies.
This conception of peace underpins the updated draft text: the proposed title for the updated Recommendation is ‘Recommendation on Education for Peace’.
The Recommendation recognises that “education of all for the advancement of peace” is the essential precondition for progress towards equality, for the creation of just and inclusive societies, and for finding solutions to our big, collective challenges.
UNESCO member states can use the Recommendation as a roadmap to develop policies and practices that support the need for global, universal education for the advancement of peace.
We at Teachers for Peace welcome this update, and urge Australian state and territory governments to work in its spirit. A good first step: adopt policies to prevent the militarisation of education, and the influence of corporate entities that profit from war and violence.