Teachers for the United Nations and Peace

UNITED NATIONS, 23 Oct 2023

Dr. Surya Nath Prasad – TRANSCEND Media Service

Dedicated to the United Nations Day, 24 October

Goals of the United Nations

The major goal of the United Nations as set for the Article 1 of its Charter is “to maintain peace and security”. But before its establishment, there were two World Wars and many civil wars and wide spread exploitation and oppression of people by the people in the governments and the outside of the governments, and this practice of injustice is still prevalent everywhere. And even since its inception on 24 October 1945, there have been 9 conflicts, and each took at least a million lives. Nearly 110 million deaths are estimated in the 20th Century. Today the United Nations is facing the problem of ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Limitations of the UN

However, in the recent years, from Cambodia to Somalia to Kosovo peace keeping activities of the United Nations have been directed mainly at easing internal civil conflicts, no war between states, because the United Nations is neither a permanent cure war, oppression, nor is a preventive tool to check violence, and not it is an instrument to sustain perpetual peace and security. The United Nations is the temporary relief for the people who are suffering due to war, violence, exploitation, natural calamities and the like problems. A great political thinker Groom also observes that the United Nations is primarily a reactive body, not a preventive one which responds to the situations after they have occurred or while they are in the process of developing rather than in an anticipatory manner.

Teachers as Helpers of the UN

Here teachers are the best helpers and supporters of the United Nations for achieving its goals of maintaining peace and security, because teachers are the true guides of the students (who are future nations and the world) to enable them to sustain perpetual peace and to be secured mutually. Therefore, teachers, who are quiet peacemakers, are the necessary need of the United Nations for its mission of peace and security.  Röling, the late distinguished Dutch international legal scholar also thought so and said, “The United Nations will need the support of Scholars in the near future more than eve, because it will grow more and more unpopular. … Insight will be necessary, in the defense of United Nations actions, and even perhaps courage. Students and scholars should be should be prepared for the coming controversy, where the demands of narrow nationalism should be opposed and answered by the demands of humanity as a whole.”

Only the teachers have a global mind. According to Chhandogya Upanishad, man is able to declare, “I, indeed, am this whole world.” A great teacher Socrates declared, “I am not a citizen of Athens, or Greece but a citizen of the world.” And his contemporary Diogenes also said, “I am a citizen of the world.”  ‘World Teacher’ or ‘Global Teacher’ (Jagat-Guru) and ‘whole world is a family’ (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) are the ancient Indian concepts about a teacher and the world. And this very concept of world-mindedness, this is the basis of lasting peace and security, can be inculcated in the minds of students by their teachers. Therefore, UNESCO Constitution also asserts “that a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of peoples of the world, and that the peace must be therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.”

Conditions and Status of Teachers

But teachers have been low-paid, neglected, exploited, humiliated, expelled, tortured and murdered. Bahgat Elnadi and Adel Rifaat of UNESCO Courier remarked, “It is doubtless true that, in number of cases, the authority with which teachers are invested has been sullied by some abusive exercise of power.” Then UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor also observed and said, “The intellectual community has suffered too long… The psychic wounds are even deeper than the physical wounds.” A UNESCO Study said millions of teachers are teaching in the face of danger and violence. This is as true in any industrialized country as-in-conflict-torn-societies like Rwanda where 60% of teachers died or fled the country since1993. The Study pointed out that many governments had frozen real spending over the past decade on teachers’ salaries. “Teachers everywhere are generally under-paid, and in some countries they wait for months to receive their meager salaries,” said Federico Mayor.

The 1998 Edition of UNESCO’s World Education Report reveals that working conditions of teachers are becoming more and more precarious. In their majority, teachers earn survival wages – a few dozen dollars a month-without benefiting from any special prestige compensation. In India also their conditions are not better. Here in a State, a College ad hoc teacher (lecturer) gets Rs. 1800/- per month. In a University of another State, a contributory university teacher receives Rs. 4500/- per year, it means Rs. 375/- per month. And the same State Government has recently issued its Resolution directing appointment of teachers on contract basis on the monthly salary of Rs.2000/- Primary School teachers, Rs. 2500/- for Secondary School teachers and Rs. 3000/- for Junior College teachers. The services of regular permanent teachers are also not secured because many teachers are illegally terminated and their cases are pending for a long period in tribunals and courts for redressal of their grievances, and in many cases their back-wages and compensation amount are not paid even if their termination were declared illegal by the competent courts.

The author of this article pleaded the cases of aggrieved teachers with the then Director-General of Indian Human Rights Commission Shankar Sen, when he was Chief Guest at the National Convention of International Association of Educators for World Peace at Sardar Sarovar, Kevadia in Gujarat, and requested him the Human Rights Commission must interfere with the cases of teachers which are lingering for a long period in tribunals and courts, and with those cases whose judgments are reserved for many months, and also plead for full judgment in the cases such as interest on back-wages, due compensation for material loss and mental torture, and exemplary punishment to the persons involved in illegal termination and harassment of teachers.

Results of the Neglect and Respect of Teachers

Wars and insecurity are the results of the neglect and the loss of great many teachers, and education both world-wide. And “the loss of intellectual resources – a true human wealth- constitutes a serious blow to the development of human resources,” observed the then Director-General of UNESCO Federico Mayor. It is fact that education was available for all neither in the past nor it is available for all in the present. Hence it has been inhuman. Therefore, there cannot be perpetual peace without perpetual development. There cannot be perpetual development without perpetual education. There cannot be perpetual education without perpetual free formal education for all and a good number of teachers available in every society of the world. There cannot be free formal education for all and good number of teachers perpetually available without proper, adequate and essentially required investment in education; and on teachers facilities and comfort. I mean peace – individual, national or international – is possible only when education would be free for all, and full facilities and comfort would be available for teachers.

Education to All for Peace

Regarding free education for all, I would like to suggest government should think expenditure on education is not “expenditure”, but it is an “investment” – investment in human resource development, and in the long run, not only the particular society, but all societies of the world will get heavy returns for centuries while the cost of ignorance can be very high for every society. Hence education, even higher education should not be considered non-merit good and services, it should not be compared with electricity, diesel and fertilizer with respect to subsidies. And governments, which are representatives of the people, must be ready to pay for all levels of education to build non-exploitative, non-violent and democratic society, because all levels of education are very much merit good and services, thus the highest result of education is peace. Therefore, let the education free for all – the children of rich and poor both – to feel themselves obliged and indebted towards all mankind.

Facilities to Teachers for Creation of Civilization   

Concerning facilities and comfort for teachers, it is my view that teachers are assets of not only a particular nation but of other nations also. Sometimes, all nations of the world get benefit of contributions of teachers of a particular nation. It means that if any society is known materially developed, culturally civilized,    and socially and spiritually ps peaceful, it is only due to its teachers, because teachers are the real civilizations of mankind. During the Second World War, an university teacher of Great Britain, when asked what he was doing when fight for civilization was on, replied, “I am the civilization you are fighting for.” In fact, not only the present civilization but civilizations of many generations were produced by infinite labor of creative teachers. Our national civilizations are varied expression of one civilization which is emerging for the whole civilized humanity.

And for these creations, some of our great teachers had to lose their lives. However, their ideas, principles, theories, laws, formulas, preachings and practices for which they were humiliated, tortured and killed are the contents of real education, i.e. peace education. They are pioneers and initiators of peace education. And still the present 90 million peace teachers (9.5 million Indian teachers), who hold the future of over billion people in their hands, by virtue of their nature, quality and character, are ready to take responsibility to serve the cause of peace and security to support the United Nations; and they are also prepared to enable the students for learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together as emphasized by Jacques Delors of UNESCO in his report entitled: Learning the Treasure Within.

Conclusion

Thus, teachers all over the world deserve to get full facilities, all comfort, and due regard and reward from the national as well as international societies. And also their educands have right to get free education for all levels. Then teachers will certainly be able to fulfill the dream of great teachers of peace, dream of Mahatma Gandhi and dream of India, and they will certainly be able to carry on responsibility to create a Culture of Peace for the benefit of all mankind, and to support the United Nations for achieving its goal of peace and security by making their students – who are nations, peoples and future governments – peaceful and secured to sustain perpetual peace and security.

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This article is based on the paper of this author published as opening article in the International Educator, Vol. 15; No. 1, June 203.

Dr. Surya Nath Prasad, Former President, Executive Vice President & Secretary-General of the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP); associate professor of education emeritus, the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea. Founder and editor-in-chief of Peace Education: An International Journal. dr_suryanathprasad@yahoo.co.in


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