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Role of Education in Building Peace

Nowadays, violent conflicts pose the greatest development challenges in the world. Children and education systems are often on the front line of these violent conflicts. The rise in violent extremism and radicalization represent a significant threat to all of us. Members of radical groups adopt increasingly extreme political, economic, social, cultural, and religious ideologies and use undemocratic and violent means to achieve their objectives. Asian countries also face the challenge of objectively addressing deeply rooted structural causes of conflicts emanating from historical injustices, marginalization and corruption. While education is central to peace building, it is important to note that it has two facets. On the one hand, evidence shows that equitably available, good quality, relevant, and conflict sensitive education can help promote peace and provide safe environments. On the other hand, when its delivery is characterized with exclusion and inequity, it can exacerbate conflict. It is for this reason that deliberate effort needs to be made to put in place necessary policies and strategies to maximize the positive effects of education on peace. Global citizenship education has been central to the response to violent extremism in the region, in particular through an approach known as prevention of violent extremism through education. While education alone cannot prevent violent extremism, it can limit the spread of extremist ideologies, discourse and propaganda by providing individuals with the skills to challenge them. Education has the power to teach the principals of peace, non-violence, peaceful conflict resolution, information and online literacy, and social and emotional skills. When students are educated and equipped with the skills to resist harmful ideologies, the spread of extremism becomes limited.

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