2023 / 11 / 6
“Hungry man, reach for the book: it is a weapon”, wrote the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht. Thus, do you see him as arrogant, delusional,´-or-a dreamer? Does the book satisfy empty stomachs?´-or-did he realize, through his strategic vision for the future, the close interrelationship between culture and education, and between them and development?
According to Bertrand Russell, information must be provided, which by accumulation knowledge is achieved, and by retaining and enhancing knowledge, wisdom is created. If philosophy means “love of wisdom,” then according to Confucius, wisdom means knowing people, while virtue means loving them, and education is the cornerstone for building knowledge, developing skills, and nurturing competencies.
Due to the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, the health crisis, has exacerbated the phenomenon of inequality in education, due to the total´-or-partial close of schools and universities, which has presented new challenges that require a reconsideration of the educational system, whose fragility, weakness, and failure to keep pace with the tremendous development taking place in the world, which detracts from a fundamental right, that was mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 26, by which we mean “the right to education”, that is dealt with in depth in Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, also, as stipulated in Article 18 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, issued in 1966, and came into force in 1976.
Perhaps these repercussions, old and new, prompt thinking about developing visions for a “new social contract for education,” based on the integration of human rights within the framework of educational institutions. This was the subject of serious discussion at the Regional Dialogue Forum in Cairo, organized by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with the League of Arab States, the Arab Network of National Human Rights Institutions, and the National Council for Human Rights in Egypt, in preparation for the 75th anniversary of the issuance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
Hence, UNESCO has adopted a global initiative, in July 2019, to establish a high-level international body to prepare a vision for the future of education by the year 2050, and a report, was issued by the concerned body on November 10, 2021, called on governments, institutions, organizations and citizens around the world to forging a new social contract for education, to help build a peaceful, just and sustainable future “together and for all”.
There is no doubt that there are new phenomena that affect the educational field, and what is meant by this is climate change, digital technology, the knowledge economy, artificial intelligence, automation, and structural transformations, which must be taken into consideration. The fourth goal of the sustainable development goals is “quality education,” so that No one is left behind, which the Arab Institute for Human Rights translated into practice, within the framework of a cognitive-cultural dialogue on education and their future, in cooperation with a number of parties, in May 2022. A summit was also held at the United Nations headquarters in New York in September 2022, to discuss the global crisis in education, which suffers from inequality and a lack of funding and quality.
Ministries of education, civil society institutions, and a number of actors and academic figures participate in these discussions, to develop joint collective thinking to improve the quality of education, especially when it is implemented in conjunction with the principles of human rights and issues of peace, tolerance, and non-violence. The first steps, in this regard, were contained in the 1993 Vienna Conference Program.
It is worth mentioning that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in preparation for the 75th anniversary, organized an initiative that will last for a full year (December 2022 to December 2023), which includes calling on governments to take decisions and make pledges to fulfill their obligations, in accordance with the International Bill of Human Rights.
This approach raises many questions, especially for decision makers, regarding the future of education in 2050, So what should remain from the prevailing education system? And what should we give up? And what should be changed completely and creatively? Because education is ultimately a public work and a common benefit, requiring communication, cooperation, synergy, participation and solidarity from everyone, to reach its goals of building a sustainable future dominated by justice and peace, that is humane, rational, critical, civil, pluralistic and scientific
This requires confronting internal and external challenges, at the Arab level, starting with occupation and aggression, all the way to extinguishing hotbeds of tension, armed conflicts, religious and sectarian conflicts, and addressing the phenomena of intolerance, extremism, violence, and terrorism. This requires creating the requirements of an appropriate legislative and legal structure coupled with the spread of freedoms, and the tightening of the principle of the rule of law and confronting backwardness and poverty, in order to achieve the minimum level of social justice.