The twentieth century witnessed some of humanity’s most horrific forms of violence, in response to the increasing severity of modern weaponry. Education quickly became a non-violent alternative for promoting long-lasting peace. The father of modern education, 17th-century philosopher Jan Amos Comenius argued that the road to peace was through shared knowledge, education is critical for achieving peace; mutual understanding will always triumph violence.
Promoting peace through education has opened the eyes of billions of people. Regarded as ‘peace education,’ its purpose serves to teach people the real horrors of war and the difficulties in achieving peace. World War One’s costly and long-lasting deadlock can be linked to the public’s blindness to the actual realities on the battlefield. In contrast, looking at U.S. public opinion during the Vietnam War, the futility of war and the huge costs of funding conflicts were recognized. The modern public perception of war is cynical, its people very aware of the physiological and psychological demands of fighting overseas. It is necessary to export peace education overseas to explore the roots of violence and learn how to understand different perspectives. Ian M. Harris, writing for the Journal of Peace Education, argues that we are all humans, we are all simultaneously the same yet unique; there is always a rational way to prevent conflict. Resolving disputes peacefully is by far one of life’s most important skills.
Developing a sense of global identity is necessary for long-lasting peace efforts, tackling global issues such as climate change, inequality and war, which is near impossible without public action. Recognizing the humanity in all of us is necessary for lifting up the standards of living throughout the world. Teaching students their rights, building up moral values and dismantling preconceived ideas of differences between groups is necessary for preventing conflict.
Although conflict is inevitable it is possible to reduce unnecessary violence, pushing forwards methods of non-violent social change; improving people’s awareness of the effectiveness of Gandhi’s Salt Marches, and Martin Luther King’s peaceful protests open up ways of creating change, reducing the chances of movements spiralling out of control. Furthermore, conflict without education often degenerates into physical force; the international community must play an active role in minimizing violent conflict throughout the world. 1994 Rwanda, for example, faced little intervention from the international community which in a few months resulted in a genocide equal to the Holocaust.
Additionally, violence at local levels is significantly reduced when the rates of gender violence and birth rates are considered as strongly linked to education. Indian economist Jean Drèze argued that female education is hugely influential in societal development: many states have had rapid declines in birth and mortality rates following female literacy programs. Reduced family sizes, greater autonomy and less dependence on family members all lead to creating a more equal society for society. Furthermore, female education removes preconceived gender bias, significantly reducing family sizes and opening up new opportunities for women.