(Reposted from: UNESCO. February 10, 2023)
What is violent extremism?
Because no one is born a violent extremist, but they are made and fuelled. Education is a powerful tool to build learners’ resilience to violent extremism. It helps strengthen their commitment to non-violence and peace, in particular by addressing hateful and violent narratives.
Violent extremism is a threat to peace and tolerance. It is a constant menace to security, human rights and sustainable development. No country or region in the world today is immune from its devastating impacts. It is not enough to counter it: We must prevent it. Because no one is born a violent extremist, but they are made and fuelled. Education is a powerful tool to build learners’ resilience to violent extremism. It helps strengthen their commitment to non-violence and peace, in particular by addressing hateful and violent narratives. This crucial work starts as early as possible, on the benches of schools. UNESCO is helping countries deliver education programmes that help build learners’ resilience to violent extremism and mitigate the drivers of the phenomena.
What is the role of UNESCO in preventing violent extremism?
UNESCO helps countries address the drivers of violent extremism as part of its programme on global citizenship education. It works to strengthen the capacities of national education systems (e.g policies, teachers, educational contents) to contribute to national prevention efforts.
- Global advocacy: UNESCO works with education specialists from around the world to build an international consensus around the need for an increased and human-rights based engagement of the education sector in the prevention of violent extremism and identify and examine concrete and comprehensive education sector responses to the threats of violent extremism.
- Development of guidance: UNESCO helps education-policy makers plan and implement effective and appropriate education-related actions, contributing to national PVE efforts, both in formal and non-formal settings, and at different levels (secondary, technical and vocational training, higher education). This work includes also supporting teachers in managing classroom discussions in relation to PVE and radicalization and creating a classroom climate that is inclusive and conducive to respectful dialogue, open discussion and critical thinking.
- Capacity-reinforcement: UNESCO develops capacity-building initiatives for education professionals on how to address violent extremism through global citizenship education and genocide prevention, in partnership with the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) and the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU).
What resources does UNESCO provide?
UNESCO’s action to prevent violent extremism through education (PVE-E) seeks to strengthen the capacities of national education systems (e.g. policies, teachers, educational contents) to appropriately and effectively contribute to national prevention efforts.
- For policy-makers or donors, UNESCO provides guidance for strengthening educational institutions’ capacity to prevent violent extremism.
- For teachers, UNESCO has developed a guide on how to talk about violent extremism and related contentious issues with learners. The tool helps teachers understand violent extremism and provides practical advice on when and how to discuss the issue of violent extremism learners. It also helps teachers create a classroom climate that is inclusive and conducive to respectful dialogue, open discussion and critical thinking.
- For young people interested in contributing to prevention efforts, UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) has created youth-centred actionable recommendations and initiatives for a wide range of stakeholders and capacity building for youth in social and emotional learning.
- For all education stakeholders seeking to know young people’s views on the work done to prevent violent extremism, UNESCO has produced a guidebook based on contribution from over 2,000 young people from around the world. It provides a set of actionable guidelines to teachers, school administrators, policy-makers, family, religious leaders and other informal influencers.
Addressing all forms of discrimination and hate speech contributes to building learners’ resilience to violent extremist ideologies and to fostering their commitment to non-violence and peace.
Addressing all forms of discrimination and hate speech contributes to building learners’ resilience to violent extremist ideologies and to fostering their commitment to non-violence and peace. That is why UNESCO has development a wide range of useful materials on global citizenship education, addressing anti-Semitism , education for the rule of law, addressing conspiracy theories and hate speech.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 12 February the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism. It aims to raise awareness of the threats linked to violent extremism and to enhance international cooperation. The celebration of the day highlights the important role of intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academia, religious leaders and the media in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.