Bushra Mohamed Ahmed Safi, 30 years old from Al Saleh (East Darfur) is a participant of the Youth Volunteers Rebuilding Darfur Project (YVRDP) in Nyala, South Darfur. The YVRDP is a joint initiative of UNDP and the Government of Sudan to establish a youth volunteers-led scheme to promote environmentally sustainable poverty reduction and private sector development in Darfur. The YVRDP is coordinated by UNDP and the Peace and Development Center at the Universities of El Fasher, Nyala and El Geneina. (Photo: UNAMID. Flickr / Creative Commons)

Youth and Sustainable Peace: Why Global Citizenship Education Matters

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Youth and Sustainable Peace: Why Global Citizenship Education Matters

Moses Machipisa

(Original article: The Global Ednovator.  April 22, 2016)

According to the 2015 Global Peace Index Report  approximately 13,4% of the worlds GDP ($14.3 Trill) was lost to conflict in 2014. This is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. The cost of conflict  has a heavy toll mostly  on the youth particularly  in the global south. This article will give an analysis of why Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is critical in building sustainable peace and why youth are critical actors in this process.

Who are the youth and why do they matter in  Sustainable Peace?

According to the United nations definition, youth are classified as people between the ages of 15-24 however in the context of the developing world, according to the African Union, youth are defined as people between the ages of 15-35. There are an estimated 1.8 Million youth world wide and of those 600 million live in fragile or conflict affected areas.The global south has been characterised by the growth of a youth bulge, for example, Africa is the youngest continent with 65% of its total population being made up of youth. Youth are critical stakeholders in the sustainable peace discourse because of their role as major actors in conflict. Youth are also the ones that are most affected by conflict, this is because conflict negatively affects social institutions and economies which constrains youth access to education and opportunities. According to the Global Partnership for Education36% of the out-of-school children worldwide live in areas of conflict. Youth are also growing up in an ever connected world  with is own challenges such as unemployment and a deep presence of radical ideology such as xenophobia and religious fundamentalism. Globally, according to the UNDP 2012 Global Parliamentary Report only 1.65 percent of parliamentarians were young people in their 20s and 11.87 percent being  in their 30s.There is a eagerness among youth to shape their future but however the spaces for participation are limited. This reality of such systematic youth marginalisation in decision making institutions has often resulted in conflict as youth seek  to get their voice heard.

Global Citizenship Education empowering youth towards sustainable peace

 According  to  UNESCO publication Global Citizenship Education: Preparing learners for the challenges of the twenty-first century, Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is defined as “A framing paradigm which encapsulates how education can develop the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes learners need for securing a world which is more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable.” Peace building is at the heart of GCED. Global Citizenship education empowers youth on how they can engage  as global citizens to confront the real challenges that they face daily which often result in conflict.According to research on contemporary conflict trends, Conflict in the global south has roots in ethnic, cultural and religious misunderstandings, against this background, GCED seeks to empower youth with knowledge on culture dynamics and develop values of tolerance and inclusion. Through GCED youth are empowered with skills that help them understand their environment and its civic realities from a global perspective and how they can explore non-confrontational ways of addressing differences. Global Citizenship Education also provides youth with competencies which enable them to be active participants in conflict resolution. Youth are empowered through GCED with dialogue and engagement skills  on how they can effectively use new media in peace building.

Way Forward:   Youth and GCED; Global, Regional and  Community Contexts

 The big question is:  How can youth be proactive in furthering GCED in community, national and global spheres?  There are global and regional policy frameworks that  a critical for youth to understand in order to be able to further GCED towards sustainable peace building. Youth need to understand and be proactive in shaping global policy, GCED  is a critical enabler for all the SDGs . In the context of peace building it is an enabler to SDG16 : Peace Justice and Strong Institutions.  Youth need to engage from informed perspectives by understanding provisions such as theUN resolution on youth, peace and security  (Launched 9 Dec 2015).  Youth also need to engage at regional level by understanding  and contributing towards regional developmental frameworks, for example in Africa peace education which is a thematic area of GCED is encapsulated in aspiration 4 section 32 of the African Unions Agenda 2063  which reads “… A culture of peace and tolerance shall be nurtured in Africa’s children and youth through peace education” African youth can be empowered through GCED to contribute in the realisation of this vision. Youth also need to engage and hold to account their governments on commitments to promote peace through education. At community  can play the role of being advocates for GCED. Youth networks can also bring a collective youth voice on peace building by harnessing technology through social media.

Moses Machipisa is the Founder and Lead contributor for the  Global Ednovator He is passionate about Global Citizenship Education, Mentorship, youth participation in leadership and Educational Technology He tweets at @MosesMachipisa and can be reached at [email protected] . You can read his full profile here

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