Nigeria: UN Urges Nigeria to Prioritise Education As Foundation for Peace

UNESCO said it has set a new standard instrument on education for lasting peace, where education offers multiple opportunities to address issues of hate speech.

The United Nations has urged the Nigerian government to place education at the centre of all peacebuilding efforts towards building an enduring culture of peace.

This was contained in a joint press release issued on Wednesday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Information Centre (UNIC).

The statement highlighted the urgent need for the Nigerian government to prioritise education as a tool for fostering human dignity, tolerance, and peace.

The UNESCO Representative in Nigeria, Abdourahamane Diallo, said if education is placed at the core of our commitment to peace, “it can empower learners with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to become agents of peace in their immediate communities.”

“While encouraging the government to prioritise education at the top of its political agenda, a strong call is being made to rally influencers and wider civil society to push forward the movement to bring education into the centre of peacebuilding at all levels.”

In the statement, Mr Diallo disclosed that “UNESCO has set a new standard instrument on education for lasting peace, where education offers multiple opportunities to address the root causes of hate speech and sensitise learners of all ages of its forms and consequences online and offline.”

UNICEF speaks

Also, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Cristian Munduate, commended Nigeria’s commitment to the Safe Schools Declaration and the development of Minimum Standards for Safe Schools and the need for continued progress in ensuring safe school environments.

She said: “On this important day, we are reminded of the collective responsibility we share in safeguarding the educational environment for every child. Education is a key driver of gender equality, economic growth, and social development, sadly it remains inaccessible to many Nigerian children. Their educational journey is often disrupted by attacks on communities and schools, including the abduction of students.”

“These challenges are particularly acute for adolescent girls, potentially stalling the progress made in girls’ education in Nigeria,” she added.

In her message, UNESCO Director General, Audrey Azoulay, emphasised the role of education in fostering peace.

“Because if hatred starts with words, peace starts with education, what we learn changes how we view the world and influences how we treat others. Education must therefore be at the heart of our efforts to achieve and maintain world peace.”

Ms Azoulay said this year’s International Day of Education focuses on the critical role of teaching and learning in promoting lasting peace and the necessary adaptations for education to address current global challenges.

“The UNESCO Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development adopted by our 194 Member States in November 2023, is a major milestone in this regard. This global standard-setting instrument, the only one of its kind, is a roadmap for re-thinking and re-designing education systems to prepare learners to collectively shape more just, sustainable, healthy and peaceful futures for all. UNESCO looks forward to supporting education reforms based on this recommendation across the world.”

About International Day of Education

The United Nations General Assembly on 3 December 2018 proclaimed 24 January as the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education in peace and development.

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