Peterson Lecture

Theme: The Role of Religion in the Education of Young People

By Ahmad Jalali
President of the General Conference of UNESCO
International Baccalaureat Organization Annual Meeting”
Geneva, Switzerland

7 May 2002


“I am really delighted – indeed, honoured – to be invited here to this gathering. When I was looking at the list of participants I felt how heavy this weight is as far as UNESCO’s ideals and in particular educational ideals are concerned, and I feel here that I am really participating in a mission which is consonant with that of UNESCO. I believe that UNESCO should become more and more connected to real think tanks, such as the IBO council and this gathering, and make use of your educational experiences.”

“Respect for pluralism – or if I may say, as I prefer, plurality – is a basic principle. Everyone should be enabled to find their place within the community, in most cases local, to which they primarily belong and at the same time be given the means to open out to other communities’ values, beliefs, systems and faiths.

In that respect it is important to establish a form of intercultural and intracultural education based on dialogue that will genuinely contribute to social cohesion and peace. Education must also give everyone throughout their life the ability to play an active part in envisaging the future of society. As in the case of tolerance, the aim is not to teach precepts and rigid rules which could slide towards indoctrination but to make the educational institution a  model of democratic practice.

Education is thus a complex matter which covers accepting differing values, acquiring knowledge, and learning how to take part in public life.

It cannot therefore be considered as ideologically neutral. The student’s conscience is necessarily challenged by it.”

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