The Role of Education in Countering Extremism
24 Jul 2014
The United Nations Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation are to work together to examine the role of education in countering violent extremism.
The preliminary work started this week with an expert roundtable in New York, at UN headquarters. UNCTED and the Foundation are committed to identifying practical ways in which States' educational policies can contribute to intercultural and interfaith understanding and help prevent the spread of terrorist ideologies and narratives.
The work is a follow-up to an address made by Tony Blair to the UN in November last year. He called upon Governments to develop long-term and sustainable policies to foster attitudinal change among future generations, to uproot extremist thinking, and to take seriously their responsibility to instil into the minds of young people acceptance of, and respect for, other cultures.
"Religiously motivated extremism is one of the most profound global challenges we face and I am delighted that we are able to work with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee committee on finding ways to tackle it.
"We will only make a real difference if we tackle the extremism at source and not allow it to poison young minds and seep into education systems. We need to equip young people with the knowledge and skills to resist the extremists messages they are often bombarded with and ensure that our education systems teach children to recognise the positive effects our connected world can have – to see what they have in common with those from other cultures and help them resist the prejudices of those religious extremists who seek to distort the truth.
"This should be a responsibility of all nations and I look forward to working with the UN Counter Terrorism-Committee to advance this case with governments and institutions across the world."
"As the pace of globalisation and technological change accelerates, young people are exposed to a variety of opinions, beliefs and cultures like never before. Extremists are using this change to their advantage, adapting and finding ever more creative ways to spread their message and promote violence.
"This is why we need to start thinking of education as a security issue. Our education programme provides young people with the ability to understand and respect other religious and cultural perspectives. Education remains by far the most powerful tool to puncture extremist narrative and influences. The impact on a school child of educating them and exposing them to the concept of diversity, difference and mutual respect cannot be underestimated. It is the key to achieving the tolerant and open-minded societies of the future.
"Together with other education experts I look forward to working with UNCTED to take this work forward at an international level."
"It is clear that education is essential to the dialogue that takes place among young people. The values they learn in school will have a direct impact on the choices they make in later life."
The Committee and CTED work together with the Foundation within the framework of Security Council resolution 1624 (2005), which calls on Member States to take all necessary steps to counter incitement motivated by extremism and intolerance and to prevent the subversion of educational, cultural and religious institutions by terrorists and their supporters.
CTED and the Foundation are committed to identifying practical ways in which States' educational policies can contribute to intercultural and interfaith understanding and help prevent the spread of terrorist ideologies and narratives.