The UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP), in cooperation with the Permanent Delegation of India, hosted the fourth Ahinsa Lecture, featuring a dialogue on progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for education between panellists and a life-size hologram of Mahatma Gandhi on 1 October at UNESCO’s Headquarters.
On the occasion of International Day of Non-Violence, 2 October, which marks the 150 anniversary of Gandhi’s birth, the event allowed for a conversation between the hologram and Gregoire Borst, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience of Education at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Vera El Khoury Lacoeuilhe, Member of Advisory board of UNESCO MGIEP’s TECH 2019, and the Institute’s Director, Anantha Duraiappah.
The Hologram delivered actual statements by the late Mahatma Gandhi on education, expressing a profoundly humanistic conception of education that should seek to impart values as well as literacy and book learning: “The essence of all education is kindness—kindness to all, friends, foes, men and beasts. The chief objective of education is the building of character. Imparting knowledge should aim at character building. Knowledge is the means and character building is the end.”
Commenting on the Ahinsa lectures, Anantha Duraiappah says, “For a better future, we must not just focus on an education that only builds human capital but also human flourishing by providing the next generation a cognitive and social emotional experience of the Gandhian values of Ahinsa (non-violence) and Satya (truth). In this way, we can equip our youth to wage peace and sustainability.” He further added, “An education system that builds social and emotional competencies is vital for fostering pro-social behaviour. Unless our present education systems embrace building emotional intelligence, we might end up in a world of highly literate people who are lacking in empathy and only concerned with their own wellbeing. This is not sustainable and will not build peaceful and sustainable societies.”
The need to take education beyond the learning of specific skills, is also a concern of a new initiative, Futures of Education, learning to become, launched by the Director-General of UNESCO at the United Nations General Assembly last month.