Stephen Gill in search for
As a result of the airways and
telecommunications the world has shrunk to the size of a village. Everywhere in
this village the pulse of change is beating much faster than ever before. It is
beating in the economic, political and social as well as religious fields,
including in the hearts and minds of the people. Humans are looking for
something different. They are not at ease with themselves nor with the world
around them. They are rejecting established values. The present day world is
like a house that is not suitable for living because many engineers without
coordinating their individual plans and skills have built it. Therefore, there
are complaints and unrest all over.
This unrest is universal because
the castle of modern education is built on the ground of nationalism, open to
the wild winds of competition in every direction that adversely affect human
relationships with neighbours, with other provinces and with other countries.
Present day education prepares students to make money in a suffocating world of
cutthroat competition that leads them to an island of false security. It equates
success with victory and doing well with beating someone else-- it equips
students with the arms to defeat others-- it is based on the principle of
winning fights. Our best scientists have been trained to destroy the global
village in one way or another in order to win wars, even nuclear wars.
Modern education has shut humans
from their fellow-beings. It does not teach how to adjust and live in society.
It is based on the idea of specialization. It destroys the love for learning
when students are compelled to work for awards. Human being is the centre of all
knowledge. But educational institutions, particularly those for higher learning,
have reached the apex of specialization, ignoring the centre. The universities
have built the pyramids of knowledge on the ground of greed and survival of the
fittest. This type of knowledge has poisoned the environment with jealousy,
hatred and hunger for power. Its fruits are visible in the form of restlessness
and the armament of nations.
This change is caused by science that has given a power to humans that they do not know how to handle. The main problem is how to deal with the risk of self-destruction and how to protect humans and secure lasting peace. Humans have developed unprecedented powers that have endangered their safety and security. The education that was acceptable for ages is not capable of solving this problem. The traditional system of education is not equipped to answer questions about peace, to promote it and to stop wars. Rather it has produced serious and deep problems for survival on every level-- individual, collective and planetary. The economic growth that has been caused by science has been accompanied by pollution. Material progress is at the cost of environmental deterioration. This so-called progress pollutes the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
Under the present educational
system, citizens learn national loyalties, because national institutions and
leaders teach students patriotic feelings and tendencies, although they live in
a world that has been reduced to a global village. There are international
agreements and treaties to avoid war, but the citizens have no international
loyalties. Politicians, administrators, educators and scientists, the products
of the modern system, are trained to render services to protect the life and
property of the people of their respective nations, which are sovereign. When
many governments become sovereign in themselves, with no authority to control
them and when all the governments start developing their demonic muscles to give
security to their people from imaginary or even real foes, the natural outcome
is war and waste. When so many sovereign and independent countries, fully armed,
become neighbours in the global village, clashes are inevitable. To avoid this
situation, individuals and nations have to be educated and disciplined so that
they may not pose perils to other people and nations.
The dove of peace has been
seriously injured by national pride and love, which ought to be broadened to
embrace global loyalty and thinking. There is use for neither national prides
nor cultural heritages if the world comes to an end. On the contrary, they will
be retained in a healthy shape in the absence of international time and
money-wasting conflicts. In the past the worst types of wars were waged in the
name of religion and patriotism; they are being waged even today.
Modern education has created a
serious hindrance to ushering in an age of peace in which humans will live with
dignity and without fear. Technocrats or scientists believe that they can change
the world for the better. They have been proven wrong. Their discoveries have
and will be misused. Their advancements, meant to give comfort to humankind,
have brought tension, anxiety and insecurity, resulting in diseases like cancer
and heart troubles and also the break up of families and the close ties between
parents and children.
It is not the achievements of the
scientists that can change the world; rather, only humans can do it. Therefore,
the world needs the institutions that can make humans aware of this fact to pave
the way for a better and a saner globe. The needs of the new world order will be
met by a system of education that would emphasize global awareness and peace and
the extinction of borders which would make defence budgets unnecessary. This
would result in the saving of billions of dollars to use for the irrigation of
deserts and to improve the quality of life. A new approach to education will
broaden the responsibilities of students to the international level.
The teaching profession has
failed to prepare our students for the nuclear age because human history never
had the problems, which we have now. It is for the first time that humans have
become capable not only of exterminating themselves with their own genocidal
technology but also of rendering our planet incapable of producing life for a
long time. This situation is one of the greatest absurdities. Educational
institutions are not doing much to address this predicament as compassionate
scholars and thinkers. Any talk of nuclear weapons causes despair and
hopelessness in young people, mainly because our teachers are not trained to
convey the features of the age. When politicians and scientists talk of the
destructive aspect of nuclear weapons, they talk in terms of megatons and such
phrases that produce a sedative affect on the listeners. They are incapable of
moving or mobilizing public opinion because they talk as if they were referring
to bows and arrows.
It would be dangerous to leave
everything to our politicians to make decisions for us. Their record is
depressing and deplorable. We cannot let them take human life in their hands.
This responsibility cannot be delegated to specialists, military technocrats and
commercial enterprises. What humans want for themselves and for their children
and their society must be the result of their own reflections and actions.
Educational institutions and other organizations provide the platform for this
Scientists generally do not think
in terms of human consequences of their work. As professionals, they do not
want to make such connections. Albert Einstein was right when he said that
nuclear energy changes everything except consciousness. It is the job of
education to provide this consciousness.
It would also be dangerous to be
lulled into believing that the threat of a nuclear holocaust has disappeared. It
has not. The world has the same number of weapons as it had a few years ago when
the danger was at its peak. The relations among the nuclear powers are
encouraging, but the threat has not disappeared as yet. An awful amount of
nuclear weapons still exist. Besides, the superpowers are still working on
producing more sophisticated engines of destruction.
Nearly every nation in the world
has some sort of institution where the art of war is studied. People are
honoured for killing others in war. Governments run academies to prepare
citizens for war. As per one estimate, more than seventy-five million people in
the world are employed by armed forces, military research and defence
industries. Millions more, including their families, are largely dependent for
their daily bread on the defence budgets of their countries. The most talented
and skilled citizens have been and are still being bought by the war-oriented
The sunrays of education would
enlighten the world population and would-be policymakers to see that the
universe is still divided into broad camps of weak and powerful--- there are
nations that are financially and militarily still weak and some are still
strong. However, the weak nations are no longer that weak and the powerful are
not entirely powerful. The use of force under these circumstances is not free
from grave consequences.
Education for the global village
or world citizenship does not mean the disappearance of national languages and
cultures. In light of the history of the former USSR, France, Switzerland and
India, it turns out to be a lame excuse because the central government would
give rights and freedom, even more, to indigenous cultures.
Though late, considering the long
and tiresome process, still children and adults can be prepared for citizenship
of the global village. It should be started at an early age to ensure safety to
their future. It must begin at home by their parents by promoting a new world
order, a new way of thinking, a world government, instead of national
governments. Peace education should play the same part and with the same force
that was played by the educational system after the invention of the printing
It is important that every city
school board, university, small town volunteer organization, and international
group work for a better world. Every individual should be actively interested in
the issues that are the focal point of discussion in the media and among the
superpowers because those issues affect his or her life. Workshops, seminars,
lectures and discussion groups must be formed and proper curricula be drafted
for students. Formal education ought to be challenged to include also peace
projects in the courses at school, college and university levels.
Even the teachers themselves
should be convinced of the new approaches to peace through education. Students
must be provided with facts and tools to analyze the dangers to our planet.
Furthermore, they must be given opportunities to discuss the type of world they
would like to inherit. Whenever there is any discussion about nuclear weapons,
there should also be a vision presented to the participants about international
law and nonviolent means to settle disputes. Otherwise, students will be simply
despairing. Emphasis should be on the roots of war and the forces that impel
nations to go to war, or even to make preparations for war. Students should also
be made aware of the psychological climate that leads nations to armed conflict.
The courses should cover the
areas of economic justice for all, human rights, respect for the environment,
armament control, disarmament, the dangers of nuclearization of weapons and
industries, the evils of colonialism, violence, the possibilities of peace, the
settlement of disputes, the philosophy and methodology of nonviolence, The
United Nations, and cooperative efforts to achieve goals.
There are several other ways
through which international understanding can be improved to create an
atmosphere for a peaceful world. One of them is educational and cultural
exchanges among nations. The Fulbright International Exchange in the United
States is one of them. The Fulbright Act that established the program was
introduced into Congress in September of 1945. There are academic exchanges
between the US and more than one hundred and thirty nations. It was to create a
cordial atmosphere for international peace and understanding by developing in
the participants an awareness that issues of war and peace should be addressed
through cooperation. Senator Fulbright, himself a Rhode scholar, knew the
benefits from such international educational exchanges in reducing hatred and
prejudices among the peoples of the world.
Besides, some vocational groups
are taking initiatives for a new world, free of war. They are mobilizing public
opinion. Included in this group are the Pugwash Movement; International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; Scientists for Peace; and Lawyers
for Social Responsibility. Some trade unions are also increasingly interested in
promoting disarmament. The International Council for Adult Education is working
through its network in several countries.
Soon after the Second World War,
several colleges and universities in the United States incorporated the study of
peace and war in their curricula. The movement against the Vietnam War promoted
these studies. Colgate, Syracuse and Kent universities, among others, initiated
these studies in the early 1970's. In the 1980's, the nuclear disarmament
movement and growing concern over the arms race prompted several schools and
colleges to add such courses for their students. At present, there must be more
than 250 institutions in the United States that offer such major and minor
In Canada, around fifty
universities offer one or two courses on peace related subjects. These courses
are offered in different departments. Some small institutions including The
Peace Research Institute; Canadian Peace Research; Peace Research, a journal;
and Press For Conversion, a publication devoted to the economic conversion of
military factories and bases to socially useful and environmentally sound
purposes, are doing a good job. Canadian parliament has established Canadian
Institute for International Peace and Security, which is being criticized for
not playing its role as an institution for peace in the real sense.
However, the peace movements are
gaining momentum though still at a slow pace. We are still far away from the
goal. The peace movement does not represent even half a percent of the total
number of students, whereas peace is the number one priority. In some countries,
the situation is worse. Most of the workers for the new world order are
volunteers. In most nations, peace movements have no access to media. Their work
is carried on mostly by committed souls. The global village needs many more
institutions and committed souls to achieve the noble goal of peace through