09.07.2012 - UNESCOPRESS

UNESCO and India Sign Agreement to Establish Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development

© UNESCO/Landry Rukingamubiri - Minister Kapil Sibal (India) and the Director-General greet each other after signing the agreement establishing UNESCO's first category 1 centre in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development was formally established Monday following the signing of an agreement between the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and India’s Minister for Human Resource Development, Communications and Information Technology, Kapil Sibal.

Based in New Delhi, this is the first institute in the Asia-Pacific Region belonging to UNESCO’s Category 1 family, meaning that it is institutionally part of UNESCO and forms an integral part of the Organization’s programme and budget.

“The Mahatma Gandhi Institute comes at the right time -  a time when the world is debating the contours of the century ahead, when UNESCO is preparing its next strategy to advance peace and promote sustainable development. This Institute goes to the heart of UNESCO's core mandate of building peace. It is fitting that it is hosted by India, a dynamic country undergoing rapid change and deeply committed to education.”

The Institute’s core activity will lie in research and capacity-building. It will encourage knowledge exchange, regional networking and catalyse innovation by helping to design and test new approaches to education.

“This Institute will be a beacon for future generations in addressing issues that confront us on a daily basis,” said Minister Sibal. “The challenges of achieving peace and sustainable development are different from what they were in the previous century. We can only deal with these issues through collaborating with each other, and the global community is realizing this.”

In signing the Agreement, the Director-General and the Minister paid tribute to Gandhi’s universal legacy and his vision of peace and the defense of human dignity. “The Institute bears the name of one of the most extraordinary, wisest, influential but also modest personalities of the 20th century. By implementing this agreement, we are living up to the aspirations, norms and responsibilities that Mahatma Gandhi embodied and championed.” Stressing the importance of education in providing answers to some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, she quoted Gandhi: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.”

Minister Sibal paid tribute to Gandhi’s vision of education, highlighting its relevance for confronting challenges such as the overuse of natural resources and learning to live together. “Gandhi said that we have enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed. This is the source of conflict. The crisis the global community faces needs to be addressed through the inspirational wisdom of Gandhi, who said that for a person to be truly educated, you had to have a united approach, by training the mind to think, the hands to acquire skills and the heart, for human values and ethics.”

The signing ceremony was attended by the Chair of the Executive Board, Ms Alissandra Cummins, and the chairs of the regional groups. Ms Cummins stated that “Mahatma Gandhi is a great source of inspiration and wisdom. We are pleased to see this Institute come to life and look forward to working cooperatively with you.”

The decision to establish the Institute followed a unanimous decision by UNESCO’s 35th General Conference in 2009.


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