Education is, like justice, health and science, an issue that goes beyond political parties. It concerns all citizens, without any discrimination, and it cannot be designed based on any specific ideology, belief or cultural identity.
Only education will allow us to be "free and responsible" individuals (art. 1 of the Constitution of UNESCO), to "shape our own lives in a meaningful way", according to the impeccable definition of Francisco Giner de los Ríos. The Constitution of UNESCO shows us the bright paths towards future: we should all live according to democratic principles, check the truthfulness of communication and, above all, learn to be, so we can fully exercise the distinctive faculties of human species: thinking, imagining, anticipating, inventing, creating! Each unique human being is capable of creating, inventing a future and being part of society, there lies our hope.
Education throughout life is the most powerful tool of democracy. It is an emancipating, liberating force, a forger of "individual" behaviour, solely resulting from an independent decision. “Free are those who create –wrote Eduardo Galeano– not those who copy. And free are those who think, not those who obey. To teach is to show somebody how to doubt”. This is no longer a question of local, closed, stationary structures, but rather of an ever-evolving, open, global system that follows the hectic pace imposed by progress of communications and the acceleration of all types of exchanges.
Education –according to the recommendations of Jacques Delors Commission– is learning to be, learning to know, learning to do and learning to live together. Learning to interact, to enrich one another, to be respectful towards others. Education is learning to undertake, learning to dare. Education is respecting others, having a truly trustful and loving relation with our parents, a brotherly relation with our family.
Education for peace is a specialized field but it is one of the educational challenges of our asymmetric “Global Village”, where inequalities are being further increased, rather than reduced. Millions of children and young people have no access to minimum levels of education in many countries around the world. Education for peace should include education for democracy, justice, disarmament, human rights, tolerance, respect for cultural diversity, the preservation of nature, conflict-prevention, reconciliation, non violence and a culture of peace. It should allow the historical transition from the logic of force to the force of reason.
Education is a participative process that must develop the capacity for criticism as a fundamental ability of the new citizens of the world. Education for peace should teach us to find solutions for conflicts, war, violence, terrorism, gender exploitation, to fight against environmental harm and to oppose any action contrary to life and human dignity. We must learn how to behave in order to promote the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, from force to word. Education should provide the knowledge and skills allowing all citizens to understand the complex world we live in, to govern it according to democratic principles, to use natural resources in a reasonable way and to build and defend a value system integrating tolerance, justice, and respect for differences. That is, peace and not violence, contrary to the well-known adage: “If you want peace, get ready for war”.
States are the political actors that should be responsible for accepting and coordinating those plans, but it is up to the civil society -in any of its many forms- to make everything possible, by means of an intense democratic participation, so that all requested steps are taken without delay.
It should be clear that the biggest problems humanity must face is not the difference but rather the indifference, not the recognition of the equal dignity of all human beings but rather supremacism and racism. Education must allow us to be independent. Otherwise the most disturbing consequence is the way supremacism, racism, fanaticism, dogmatism are sprouting everywhere... without anyone seeming to recall what happened between 1933 and 1939... The vast majority of citizens are stunned and obsessed supporters of a football team, and are only worried about their immediate past and their present life; their demands -which are mainly based on the mistakes made by those who have ruled on one side and the other- would be reasonable in less pressing situations, but they do not realize that today young and future generations are the only ones who deserve our attention if we want to keep the world afloat and bequeath these generations a dignified life.
Education should raise global awareness. This is a crucial point: we can feel close or distant from our fellow men. And taking care of the environment should not be limited to our surroundings but should rather be extended to the whole planet, because we all have a common destiny. Education, “mastering” the extraordinary mystery of life by getting close to others, approaching them, walking every stretch of road “while carrying love on our back” as Miguel Hernández advised us to do.