Toh Swee-Hin is Distinguished Professor at the UN mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. From 2003 to 2009, he was also the founding Director of the Multi-Faith Centre, Griffith University, Australia, a centre that promotes inter-faith dialogue towards a culture of peace. Born in Malaysia and a citizen of Canada and Australia, he has been a high school teacher and taught in Faculties of Education of universities in the interrelated fields of Education for a Culture of Peace, human rights, justice, intercultural understanding, environmental sustainability and interfaith dialogue, as well as sociology of education and education for national development. He has also contributed greatly in the field of education for a culture of peace, working on various projects in Uganda, South Africa, Jamaica, Japan, United States and the Philippines. Dr Toh has also contributed to several international networks and is especially committed to APCEIU as one of the members on the Governing Board and was involved as facilitator in various APCEIU workshops. He was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 2000 in recognition of his efforts towards peace education and peace building. I am extremely honored and grateful to Dr Toh for taking time out of his busy schedule for a skype interview to talk about some of his personal experiences, his thoughts on peace education and some of his motivations in overcoming challenges.
The Parahyangan Catholic University (UNPAR) will be holding the UNPAR International Student Conference 2015 on Global Citizenship from January 16th to 25th, 2015, in Bandung, Indonesia. Under the theme of “Sustainable Urban and Human Settlement – Creating a Smart City for All,” the 10-day conference will see student participants from Indonesia and other parts of the world come together to discuss issues of urban sustainability with various experts in the field.
The Inter Press Service (IPS) Forum on Global Citizenship was held at at the Sri Lankan Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York on November 18th. The forum was held in cooperation with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations and Soka Gakkai International, with experts, diplomats, journalists and educators in the field of peace education and global citizenship participating in the forum.
The American Field Service (AFS) Global Intercultural Education Symposium “Learning to Live Together—from Ideas to Act” was held on November 8th in Paris, France. The symposium was granted UNESCO patronage, and was organized by the American Field Service Intercultural Programs, an educational organization focused on intercultural learning opportunities. 1,000 experts and young thought leaders from the fields of education and peace-building participated in the symposium, which was held as part of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the AFS.
The Asia-Pacific Conference on “Ethics Education for All: Searching for a New Paradigm of Learning to Live Together” will be held from October 28 to 30 October 2014 in Hua Hin, Thailand. Organized by the UNESCO Office in Bangkok, the conference aims to discuss the nature and needs of developing ethics teaching programs in the Asia-Pacific region. Particular attention will be given to the themes of global justice, curriculum and future trends in ethics education.
A technical training workshop on costing and simulation modelling was held from September 9th to 12th in Yangon, Myanmar. Conducted by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the workshop is part of UNESCO’s support of Myanmar’s education reforms under Phase Three of the Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR). Covering education policy cycles, education indicators and key concepts in education costs and finance, the four-day workshop was attended by more than 30 participants from Myanmar’s Ministry of Education (MOE).
The 14th Asia-Pacific Training Workshop (APTW) was held from August 21st to 29th in Seoul, South Korea. Organized by the Asia-Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) and sponsored by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea, 27 participants from 17 countries in the Asia-Pacific including Myanmar, Bhutan, Vietnam, Samoa, Australia, etc attended the workshop subtitled “EIU, Fostering Global Citizenship” this year.
A UNESCO mission led by Assistant Director-General for Education Qian Tang was welcomed by Egyptian Education Minister Mahmoud Abou Nasr and other officials in Cairo on September 11, 2014 for a meeting to discuss cooperation between the organization and the ministry for education development in the country.
The Asia-Pacific is one of the regions in the world that has made the most significant progress towards providing access to education and thus increasing the school enrollment numbers. While much of the spotlight is usually on the “Asia” part of the region, the Pacific has also been putting in much effort into increasing school enrollment rates and the quality of education.
The 10th Pacific Islands Forum Education Ministers Meeting (FEdMM) held in the Cook Islands from March 31 to April 2, 2014 saw the release of the 2014 Pacific Education Development Framework (PEDF) Tracking Report. It was the first tracking report on the performance of countries in working towards the PEDF.
At the turn of the century, the United Nations took the chance to reflect on itself as well as the future of the world. What can we do to make the world a better place? How can we achieve that? From there, the 8 Millennium Development Goals that we know of today were formulated. Deemed as the most urgent problems of Mankind that would have to be tackled, targets were set for the deadline of 2015. Among the 8 goals, the importance of education, sustainability, and peaceful relations were reiterated.
At the same time, the role of education was re-examined in the landmark report Learning: The Treasure Within published in 1996 by UNESCO. Highlighting four pillars as the foundation of education, the importance of one of the pillars – learning to live together – was given the highest priority by the Commission. In a time where memory of the brutal world war was fresh and tensions from the Cold War had only just begun to cease, the importance of mutual understanding between different cultures can never be more emphasized.