Powerful social movements have emerged and continue to deepen and expand over the past several months. In India the movement against violence against women and for a new relationship between men and women has grown out of the outrage towards the brutal rape and mindless assault of the young woman in New Delhi and has found resonance around the world.
In the USA the latest in a tragic litany of horrific slayings, this time of six year school children in Newtown, Connecticut has given the anti-gun movement new energy, new channels for rage and may have in President Obama, a leader able to take some action.
In Canada, four Indigenous women have lit a spark which has ignited the #Idlenomore movement across Canada to touch the lives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples everywhere. Beyond all expectations, this movement has forced a deeply conservative and controlling Prime Minister of Canada to come to the table to talk about a new relationship between settler Canadians and the Indigenous first people who were here when then came. The movement is recognized as a movement for all Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians with its focus on protection of the land and calling for us to think seven generations ahead.
Social movements as Eyerman and Jamison theorized in their 1991 book Social Movements: A Cognitive Approach function to transform society through the creation of new knowledge, what they called cognitive praxis. This new knowledge is part of the new approach to understanding knowledge and transformation in new ways that Rajesh and I refer to as Knowledge Democracy. Adult educators speak of ‘social movement learning‘ , of the powerful and transformative learning that happens within and because of social movements.
Our work with higher education, knowledge, engagement and hope for a better world is part of a world constantly in motion, a world of contestation where greed argues for higher profits, the powerful for control of the status quo, but where people and their knowledge of a different set of aspirations and realities are also powerfully present. The challenge for us is how to tap into, accompany and support those who as the late Paulo Freire told us are “re-writing the world”.
We salute and thank you for your work.
Rajesh Tandon and Budd Hall
Co-Chairs, UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education
New Delhi and Victoria, Canada
UNESCO Global Thematic Consultation on Education
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Le secteur de l’éducation de l’UNESCO nous signale que l’UNESCO et l’UNICEF organise une consultation en ligne pour l’agenda post 2015 sur l’éducation et qu’il serait intéressant au vu de la riche expérience du Canada et du Québec en matière d’éducation de relayer cette information auprès des organisations compétentes et voir qui serait susceptible de participer à la discussion en ligne sur le thème de la qualité de l’apprentissage qui sera discuté jusqu’au 21 janvier. Le lien pour accéder à cette discussion en ligne est: https://www.worldwewant2015.org/education2015). Les contributions peuvent se faire en français et en anglais au choix.
UNESCO Stengthens Support to Higher Education or Not?
Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, signalled that her organisation’s focus on primary education was expanding to include more work supporting higher education, at the World Innovation Summit for Education held in Doha last week. But insiders suggested otherwise.
Regardless of the struggle with basic education, Bokova argued for a more holistic approach that includes higher education and lifelong learning. She pointed to teacher training and technical and vocational institutes as priorities.
But Georges Haddad, director of the Education Research and Foresight branch of UNESCO, suggested that such discussion about higher education was nothing more than talk. When asked about details of this shift in focus, he responded bluntly.
“Words. Promises. I don’t think we’re doing the right thing,” he said. “The most important thing to UNESCO is just the appearance. We say ‘Education for All’ and ‘lifelong learning’ and the ministers are happy because they listen to what they want to hear.”