WELCOME ADDRESS AT THE NATIONAL SUMMIT ON EDUCATION FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT
September 26, 2015
Banquet Hall, Jos Hill Station Hotel
By Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba, PhD
West Africa Regional Coordinator,
United Religions Initiative (URI)
Our World is in crisis. Signs of unpredictable dangers are everywhere. Diseases and epidemics continue to devastate and kill hundreds of thousands. Countries are exporting their problems and challenges abroad. The World Economic Forum’s recent yearly assessment shows that the biggest threat to world stability over the next 10 years is likely to come from geopolitical tensions (state conflict), crisis in the world's water supply (environmental conflict), State collapse occasioned by the rise of non-state actors such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, Bok Haram, etc and Chronic Unemployment. The global economy is not in good shape.
The first category of threats relate to the Environmental and Ecological problems of the World such ecological destruction, resource depletion and atmospheric change/ Global warming. There are also problems in the economic, social and political spheres of human activity, including over population, social integration, corruption, oppression, exploitation, conspiracy and injustice, terrorism and mutual distrust. The modern world also has serious spiritual problems, in terms of secularization and religion/spirituality in the face Scientific Rationalism- Secular Humanism and Religious Fundamentalism, to contend with. There are also problems of the age relating to the realm of ideas, which have continued to puzzle Philosophers, Theologians and Scientists, etc. But the greatest of all human problems today is what I consider as the Human Relationship Deficiency Virus- the Poverty of Human Relationships. In the body, this sort of trouble leads to AIDS; in the human community, it leads to war. AIDS and war lead in similar directions, to needless suffering and death–often on a massive scale. Indeed, the paradigm of reality that features the concept of enemies is like an autoimmune disease of the human collective: dysfunctional and killing us. We stand at the Abyss, at the steadily approaching threshold of unimaginable chaos, calamity, death and destruction.
But there is a critical measure that can help address the above threats and challenges- EDUCATION and EDUCATORS. Education is key to peace and social development. Education is socially transformative and serves as the basis for knowledge development. Education is the single most important means for empowerment and sustained improvement in all well being. Sustainable development is a basic Human Right; achieved with the potent tool of Education. According to Mr. Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General, Chairman of Kofi Annan Foundation, "Education is the great equalizer of our time. It gives hope to the hopeless and creates chances for those without. It is also the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development”. Education to Key to unlocking the doors of ignorance, poverty and underdevelopment. Contemporary global attention is now focusing on education as an instrument for launching nations into the world of science and technology and with consequential hope of human advancement in terms of living conditions and development of the environment. This is because, education, in the life of a nation, is the live wire of its industries and also the foundation of moral regeneration and revival of its people. It is also the force and bulwark of any nation’s defense and it has been observed that no nation rises above the level of its education.
Thank you most sincerely for finding the time to be at this National Summit on Education today. This is the first of six that we are organizing across the country. The National Summit provides a platform for peer-to-peer conversations that address the social-emotional competencies and practices that are vital for coping with the challenges of an increasingly complex work. The National Summit is deeply grounded in the philosophy that:
- ‘Education of the heart’ will help foster caring, responsible and accountable global citizens.
- Cross-cultural conversations help people reach across the things that divide them — nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation, wars and geography.
Today, we shall also present the Champions of Education for Peace and Development Awards, in recognition and celebration of the extraordinary work of organizations and individuals who are rolling up their sleeves and making outstanding contributions to the development of Education in Nigeria. Through their work, they are sending an important positive message to the world about the importance of education for building peaceful and sustainable societies.
Echoing the words of Malala Yousafzai, the challenge before us today, more than ever before, is to inspire and support every effort to promote Peace and Development and to end wars on earth by helping to provide books instead of guns, pens instead of tanks and teachers instead of soldiers.
No need to despair. There is hope!