Jordan Shows the Way in Taking Action to Prevent Extremism

Jordan Shows the Way in Taking Action to Prevent Extremism

Jordan Shows the Way in Taking Action to Prevent Extremism

Commentary

3 min read

Generation Global students and teachers meet with Tony Blair in Amman on 28 April 2019.

Extremism is on the rise throughout the whole world—be it religious extremist violence, which has plagued the world for decades, or the rising tide of right-wing extremism. Yet Jordan is a country that continues to embody moderation and tolerance.

The Jordanians have a long history of embracing tolerance. In 2004, King Abdullah noted there was a need to “avert the clash of civilisations and help the overlap of cultures”. Dr Kamel Abu Jaber, a former foreign minister, even went as far as to say, “I am a Christian by faith . . . I am a Muslim by culture and identity.”

No surprise, then, that in the last year nearly 120,000 Jordanian students, including Syrian refugees, have taken part in our Institute’s schools programme, Generation Global, which helps teachers break down cultural barriers to combat extremism.

Tony Blair stated at an event in Amman on 28 April, “There is no greater public service and greater responsibility than to teach.” Throughout the world, many are quick to recognise the public service of great teachers, but too few are given the tools to realise the true potential of their responsibility.

When we talk to teachers who use Generation Global across the world, they tell us the power of a simple conversation between children of different cultures. The principle is obvious: the more children interact with those who are different from them, the less likely they are to buy into extremist narratives that break the world down into a binary ‘us vs. them’ choice.

Education is a vital part in the battle against extremist ideas. Governments across the world must follow Jordan’s lead and develop education systems that teach tolerance and open-mindedness

The world is becoming dangerously divided between young and old; better off and worse off; and, increasingly, between Muslim and non-Muslim. Extremism thrives on a hatred of others—a feeling that grows when communities live in isolation. Too many children growing up across the globe today aren’t exposed to any culture other than their own.

This is why our Institute is proud to run Generation Global: a programme with the sole aim of breaking down these barriers. And it’s working. A Jordanian girl told Tony Blair on 28 April that our programme had helped her feel free. But we can’t stop there; we want every young girl around the world to feel the same sense of freedom.

Recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka have highlighted the global nature of extremism: some of the attackers came from, or were educated in, countries outside of where they undertook the violent acts. That’s why our Institute is working with governments around the world to develop a new global commitment to preventing extremism and promoting global citizenship.

Education is a vital part in the battle against extremist ideas. Much can be learned from how the Jordanian government is determined to starve extremists of the barriers they crave. But to turn the tide against the rise of extremism, governments across the world must follow Jordan’s lead and develop education systems that teach tolerance and open-mindedness to those from different walks of life and beliefs, and global citizenship.

Two young boys study in the classroom
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