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Youth Waging Peace by SLNCU

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

On Monday, the 10th of February, 2020, Pioneers Youth had the honour of attending the inaugural ceremony of the South Asian Regional Workshop on the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education organized by the Sri Lanka National Commission for the UNESCO (SLNCU).

The event was attended by the Secretary General of the SLNCU, the director of UNESCO – Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and the Hon. Minister of Education, Sports and Youth Affairs. The workshop was also attended by participants who have worked on the prevention of Violent Extremism, from South Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh.

"The answer lies with the youth who are the catalysts that initiate change in rigid systems"

The words spoken by Dr. Duraiappah, the director of UNESCO – MGIEP in his welcome remarks made a deep impact. He spoke on violent extremism and the youth. He highlighted that the youth are the ones that need to take action as the high-level authorities are caught up in the process and do not give time to the thoughts needed to address the issues. It was refreshing to hear an adult speak and say that the answer lies with the youth who are the catalysts that initiate change in rigid systems. His advice to the participants resonated within everyone in attendance as it is something that we, as the youth can make sure comes into fruition.

He made sure to inform those in attendance that education was a major way in which violent extremism could be prevented, with focus on the brain and how it can be influenced. Training the brain and the thought process of children from a very young age will ensure that they are not only able to rationalize their thoughts but are also able to empathize in the plight of others.

According to Dr. Duraiappah, if we train the rational mind and leave the emotional parts of our brain untouched, the result would be 99% of the world population who lead ordinary lives in this extraordinary world. Those who have trained both are the great leaders who sacrificed their lives for the greater good such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama.

Furthermore, the problems which are a result of weak leadership and challenges regarding Sustainable Development such as unfair world consumption can be solved through education as mentioned above. But they can also be solved through individual actions and the economic as well as the social prosperity of any unit. That is something not only for those in power but also for us to work towards.

We were also able to witness the panel on the State of Violent Extremism in South Asia which was conducted with the participation from a representative of each country in attendance. The panel focused on the drivers of violent extremism such as the economic, ideological and political background of those who engage in violent extremist behavior. The participants were then advised to come up with feasible solutions in the form of proposals and reports.

The organizers were right to bring such a dialogue to Sri Lanka, where we have faced violent extremism through out history. From the JVP insurrections to the recent Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lanka has always had a bloody history. Engaging the youth in such talks, especially with the focus being on education, those in power today can ensure that those who take up power tomorrow do not make the same mistakes as them. This workshop in that regard, while giving the youth a platform to voice their opinions regarding a major problem that is prevalent in our world, will also enable them to put into action their plans and make a real impact in society. As such we are glad to partner with the SLNCU, who have the interests of the country as well as the youth in their agenda.

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