Governments around the world should agree it’s part of their global responsibility to weed out religious prejudice and hatred.
Executive Chairman, Institute for Global Change
Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York with Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Blair said that:
“If you look around the world today, there are young people, millions of them, that are being educated to this closed-minded view of the world. And if you educate millions and millions of people to this closed-minded ideology, we shouldn’t be surprised if a proportion of them then say, well, look, if these people are our enemy, we should be taking up arms and fighting them, or if the West is fundamentally hostile to Islam, then, if they are fundamentally hostile, we should be engaged in combating that hostility.”
Using the example of Northern Nigeria, he said that “there are young people being educated in religious schools that are of a very particular ideological persuasion,” and in order to fight this the Institute is calling for “a global commitment on education, where governments agree it’s part of their global responsibility to weed out religious prejudice and hatred, and promote religious tolerance within their education systems.”
He said that “the hardest thing in politics is to take a long-term decision that won’t do you any good as a leader, but might do future generations some good. But we need to elevate this issue and get people focused on the fact that whatever measures you have to take on hard power and security and, defeating ISIS and all the rest of it, there is a whole agenda around dealing with the long-term roots of this that we need to get right now and give the same importance to as we do to this obvious hard-power agenda that may hit the headlines every day.”
A video and full transcript of the event can also be found here.
A global commitment on educating against extremism
We live in a globalised world, so where one country's education system fosters intolerance, the threat of extremism affects us all.
Education is one of the most effective tools we have in countering destructive ideologies based on a perversion of religion. Quality education that opens minds, equips young people with critical thinking and dialogue skills, and provides interreligious and intercultural knowledge, helps them to understand and respect one another.
Governments must be accountable for their education systems, not just to their own citizens, but also to the international community. It is only through education reform that governments will be able to reduce the extremist threat. This means changing curricula, improving teaching resources and training, and preventing teaching of intolerance or prejudice.
Our call to action for governments to agree to a global commitment on educating against extremism is the catalyst for a new understanding of quality education. Its principles provide a roadmap for improving the capacity of education systems to fight against extremism, for the benefit of future generations.
A global commitment on educating against extremism should:
Agree the aim and content of quality education in relation to teaching mutual respect and understanding
Inspire the reform of curricula, teacher training, and learning resources to promote education that delivers knowledge and skills to develop critical thinking and open-minded attitudes, which are necessary to fighting extremism
Encourage governments to take active, measurable steps to ensure that hatred or intolerance has no place in education, and that any such content is removed
Protect the right of all children to education irrespective of their culture, faith, or gender
Make governments accountable to an international body for the implementation of the principles of this commitment