The International Day of Education on January 24 underlines the important role of education in the development and empowerment of individuals, and the advancement of our communities.
Despite many efforts internationally towards universal education, inequality in educational participation and attainment persists.
Education is a basic human right as it is crucial to the development of each individual’s potential. It is also necessity, if an individual is to enjoy the full range of human rights. Furthermore, education is a key to the empowerment and progress of our communities.
According to the Universal House of Justice, the governing council of the Bahá’í international community: “Cause of universal education … deserves the utmost support that the governments of the world can lend it. For ignorance is indisputably the principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples and the perpetuation of prejudice. No nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens.”
In many parts of the world, there are inequalities in terms of girls having access to education, and their ability to continue with furthering their education.
The governing council of the Bahá’í international community, emphasising the importance of educating women and girls, states: “The decision-making agencies involved would do well to consider giving first priority to the education of women and girls, since it is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge can be most effectively and rapidly diffused throughout society.”
While it is important to provide education for all, it is not enough to teach our children skills and techniques. They should also be trained in the right values and attitudes. It is important that education, whether at home or at school, guides our children in their moral empowerment and not just in their intellectual development.
“The proper education of children,” says the Bahá’í Writings, “is of vital importance to the progress of mankind, and the heart and essential foundation of all education is spiritual and moral training,” and “knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character.”
Education, in addition to its role in empowerment of individuals, it can play a key role in building a peaceful world society. It is the most effective way of harnessing the power of the values, attitudes, behaviours and skills of our children and youth towards creating a better world.
Regarding the crucial role education can play in promoting world peace, the Universal House of Justice suggests: “In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child.”
The kind of education we provide should enable our children to live in harmony and peace, in an atmosphere of understanding, dialogue and respect for others. Nurturing in them an appreciation for the richness and importance of the world’s diverse cultural, religious and social systems, will help them to free themselves of prejudices that are the main causes of conflicts and wars.
Love for the entire human family, can be brought into our educational programmes, by empowering our children to see beauty and harmony in diversity.
The Universal House of Justice: “The diversity that characterises the human family, far from contradicting its oneness, endows it with richness. Unity, in its Bahá’í expression, contains the essential concept of diversity, distinguishing it from uniformity … world unity is possible — nay, inevitable — it ultimately cannot be achieved without unreserved acceptance of the oneness of humankind.”
Flora Teckie is an architect, a Bahá’í Faith follower, and spiritual columnist.