Is it still necessary to teach about the United Nations? Absolutely--now, perhaps more than ever. With a spiraling global population, the need to better inform and educate young people the world over about the United Nations represents an ongoing challenge that cannot go unheeded.
If the United Nations is to remain true to its Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it must continue to promote such education to this and succeeding generations of young people. From primary classrooms to university campuses, this challenge requires a similar commitment by the United Nations partners in civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Unless students come to know and appreciate the mandate and the role of the United Nations to help their world become safer and more humane, far too many of mankind's failures will simply be repeated. Unless students understand the nature and breadth and depth of the global issues that confront the United Nations and its Member States, the less likely their creativity and resourcefulness will be employed in solving such issues. Unless students discover how and where they can one day apply their readiness and enthusiasm to work within the United Nations System and/or support its endeavours through its related NGOs, the poorer the world body will be. And unless students learn to recognize false claims and unfair criticism about the United Nations, the harder the road to overcome such issues as human rights abuses, poverty, literacy, climate change and terrorism.
While there have been substantial achievements in creating the materials and learning environments necessary, especially in the developed countries and in English, much more can clearly be done in many of the less developed countries and in the five other official UN languages.
Starting with the K-12 curriculum and moving on to higher education, there is an ever present need to update and improve the existing curriculum and, at the same time, encourage the development of new, technologically enhanced units and lessons. More specifically, there are at least a minimum of six imperatives:
1, With respect to the plight of less developed and developing nations, it's important that students learn how the United Nations, from its founding, has played a major role in decolonization and the emergence of some 80 new sovereign States. Such history provides valuable insights and basic understanding of the hardships that many of these nations have had to overcome on the road to self-governing.
Closely related is the need to learn about the huge disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Without this broader perspective, younger generations are less likely to assist in the development of new and better ways to reduce the ravages of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, tainted water, soil erosion and other conditions that the have-nots endure.
Learning how the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, among others, currently improve the lives of both the haves and the have-nots is a critical part of this education process.
On a broader scale, young people have a fundamental need to learn the essential objectives of each of the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by the General Assembly in 2000, as well as...