(Reposted from: UNESCO. November 2, 2020)
On 27 and 28 October, UNESCO New Delhi partnered with UNODC (UN Office for Drugs and Crimes) to hold a regional dialogue on the subject of youth participation in justice and equality in education. Hundreds of attendees tuned in via Zoom and Facebook live to watch three panel discussions that took place over the two days.
If we want the youth of South Asia to come of age in a world that is stable, safe and just, we need to start thinking now about how we will mitigate COVID’s negative effects on students.
Eric Falt, UNESCO New Delhi Director in his opening remarks
Learning empathy, respecting diversity and being able to recognize and challenge discrimination are key skills that young people should have today. This will also enable young people to come to the forefront and take charge of the future they want to build. After all, youth today hold the key to the future, and they are the greatest hope that the planet has.
Sergey Kapinos, UNODC Representative for South Asia
The first panel, on 27 October, focused on youth engagement in the changemaking process in bringing more justice and equality to the school system. The young panel members discussed the importance of including student voices in the dialogues that shape education policy in order to find solutions that will be relevant and powerful for the young people who will be most affected.
On Wednesday 28 October, participants in the second panel of the dialogue discussed how to incorporate equality and justice training in curriculum, through lenses such as global citizenship education and further bringing focus towards SDG 4.7. The panelists brought up issues like effective teacher training and giving students mind-opening opportunities such as exchanges and extracurricular activities like student council.
The regional dialogue concluded with the final panel discussion which aimed at assessing the impact of COVID 19 on drop-out rates and also included deliberations on how to create an environment of safety in South Asian schools. It was discussed that an important part of curbing dropout rates during this time of crisis is ensuring that the classroom setting is a secure one for students, free from violence and inequality. Participants in this panel then went on to discuss some of the underlying issues that drive harmful phenomena such as bullying including cyberbullying, sexual violence, and gender-based oppression.
While the current pandemic has forced all such events into the digital sphere, this regional dialogue enabled young participants from across the South Asian region to join. The meeting also maintained a high level of audience engagement and participation in the form of Facebook comments and questions submitted on Zoom, which the panelists addressed in real time.