Education has been the centerpiece of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda. During the evaluation period of the Millennium Development Goals, it was clear that even though the number of children attending schools significantly increased, the higher education they received did not meet the standards of contemporary world and labor markets.
The reception made it clear that government, private sector and civil society leadership go hand-in-hand. This will help us build the supportive measures needed to sustain development and peace worldwide. And it will ultimately help improve the lives of many people around the world.
Mehmet Kilic, main JWF representative to the United Nations
On September 25, 2014, the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) and Peace Islands Institute (PII) hosted a UN High-Level Reception at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York during the UN General Assembly’s 69th Session. The event celebrated existing work on Education for Sustainable Development that contributed to the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda. The reception focused on the provisions of the quality of education to ensure sustainable development.
The reception highlighted the successes of the thousands of schools and educational institutions throughout the world that have been inspired by Fethullah Gulen, the honorary President of both JWF and PII. The organizers shared their experiences with delivering high quality education to youth and adults in 160 countries on 5 continents. Most of the participants suggested that availability and accessibility of education were necessary but not sufficient conditions for sustaining development and peace.
During the reception, multiple guest speakers emphasized the role of quality education in achieving economic development, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and good governance. The UN Post-2015 Development Agenda encourages member states to make education more accessible and equip schools with qualified teachers.
Some of the notable attendees at the event included the following dignitaries and educational leaders:
- H.E. Abubakar Suleiman, Minister of Planning of Nigeria
- H.E. Moussa Ouattara, Minister of Higher Education of Burkina Faso
- H.E. Kassim Issack Osman, Minister of Health of Djibouti
- H.E. Osman Mohammed Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea
- H.E. Jean-Baptiste Natama, Chief of Staff of the African Union
- H.E. Dipu Moni MP, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh
- H.E. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland
- Dr. John L. Lahey, President of Quinnipiac University
- Dr. Jamshed Bharucha, President of the Cooper Union
- Dr. Vincent A. Pedone, Executive Officer of the Council of Presidents of Massachusetts State University
- Dr. James Cross, President of Education Vermont USA
- Dr. Rochelle Hendricks, Secretary of Higher Education of the State of New Jersey
- Dr. Serif Ali Tekalan, President of Fatih University
- Dr. Huseyin Sert, Vice Chancellor of Nigerian Turkish Nile University
Mustafa Yesil, president of JWF, explained how the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model in education has allowed many schools to flourish in developing areas since the schools, with the support of JWF and PII, are hosted by governments and managed by NGOs. These schools provide a rigorous curriculum that prepares pupils to be competitive in national and international labor markets.
Zafer Akin, president of PII, stated: “We strongly believe that world leaders can unite and uphold human dignity, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. We hope that this reception contributes to the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda by supporting education for sustainable development to promote peace, prosperity and quality education for all.”
A video was presented after the welcoming remarks. The video underlined the impact of education on various aspects of sustainable development and peace.
As a result of the PPP model, these schools have produced thousands of students who have competed and won titles in the International Science and Math Olympiads, the oldest and largest competition for pre-collegiate students.
In addition to rigorous academics, some schools located in conflict areas serve as social mediators, where students and parents from different sides of conflicts interact in a neutral or even a positive platform, building a path for sustainable peace.
H.E. Jean-Baptiste Natama
The Chief of Staff of the African Union
“In Africa we pay great attention to education because education has enabled us to adopt world peace, and now the African Union and the entire continent is in the process of defining an agenda for the next 50 years which is going to transform Africa. Definitely, we need the African workforce to contribute to the transformation of Africa and we need educated people. This is why one of the main directives for the African Union in the next years is to invest in our people. Investing in our people definitely gives opportunity for Africa to invest in the youth, who are supposed to be educated. Education of good quality, education in science, technology and innovation but also skilled development … An African transformation can only be done if we have human resources who are competent and qualified.”
Dr. John L. Lahey
President of Quinnipiac University
“Universities for many years played a leadership role in educating young people in a multicultural and international environment that forces greater understanding and peaceful resolution of differences along diverse nations of different people. We have long known that discrimination, hatred, and bigotry of all kinds are at their core based primarily on ignorance. The best weapon to end discrimination and bigotry is education at all levels, including higher education. As President of Quinnipiac and representative of a higher education, I am proud of our collective contributions to these areas.”
President of TUSKON
“Businessmen want to make money, to grow, to earn more but TUSKON members believe that they owe many things to the neighborhood, their goal of giving to the country and to the whole world. Education is important for business people because business can be done where there is stability and peace. The wealth can be generated and the world can be a livable place.”
H.E. Abubakar Sulaiman
Minister of National Planning
The Federal Republic of Nigeria
“I want to underline that education is the key in order to enable the government to empower people to be a part of the skilled labor force. Education is the key to the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda. The emphasis should be on how to develop the capacity of our people, how to develop our capital. Primary school to middle school, it is free. Our government is spending lots of money on intervention programs assisting our children in their education. Education flourishes Nigeria more, develops the continent of Africa, and our country Nigeria.”
U.S. House of Representatives
“Fethullah Gulen remains committed to the belief that we have a shared responsibility to achieve gender equality through the comprehensive education of women and girls. Fethullah Gulen has earned not only our recognition, but also our gratitude for his work in education, which will allow nations around the world to improve the quality of life for the people and, ultimately, to achieve peace where armed conflict once existed.”
U.S. House of Representatives
“The mission of PII is to act as an island of peace for all peoples in all different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. This reception aims to focus on the United Nations development goals to open paths for peace building and post conflict recovery through education.”
Main Representative to the UN
Journalists and Writers Foundation
“It has been wonderful to see such prominent ministers, diplomats, civil society, academia, and media display such a deep and broad commitment to the principles of peace, education, and development from multiple perspectives. The government and private sector’s willingness to work together across sectors in this way to address the role of education for a peaceful world for today and tomorrow encourage me. The reception made it clear that government, private sector and civil society leadership go hand-in-hand. This will help us build the supportive measures needed to sustain development and peace worldwide. And it will ultimately help improve the lives of many people around the world.”
Vincent A. Pedone
Executive Officer of the Council of Presidents
Massachusetts State University
“Having educated people understand the differences between cultures, differences between the people and be able to express those intelligently is critical for the global economy.”
Executive Director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute
“I view Turkey as a bridge between cultures. Turkey can play a real strong role in this way to bring people together.”
Dr. John L. Lahey
“As Quinnipiac University, we are committed to globalization and internationalization. Our young generation is more sensitive for the global issues. We educate our students to be able to understand other perspectives and become tomorrow’s leaders.”
Dr. Carol S. Long
“I am very pleased with this Peace Islands Institute event, which puts education at the top of the agenda. It is very impressive to see international organizations like Peace Islands Institute to work with each other as collaboration is the way to human peace.”
Dr. Pietro Ceccato
Research Scientist Lead, Environmental Monitoring Program
“We do not have expertise in everything. So, we need to have partners, we need to have networks, to collaborate to improve the situation in places like Africa. We need to put our efforts together with international organizations like Peace Islands Institute to improve the situation.”
Emmy Award Winning TV Host and News Anchor
“It is so important to get out the message in peace and having bridges between cultures. That is why I am so proud to be here. To be truthful, we can be a bridge builder, which is what I think Journalists and Writers Foundation and Peace Islands Institute is doing. I am here to support your organization. Getting a good education lets children have hope so they have a reason to fulfill their dreams and feel that their dreams are realistic.”
H.E. Jean-Baptiste Natama
The Chief of Staff
The African Union
“Education helps a person to explode his potential. Once you educate someone, you give the opportunity to unlock his potential. African Union is focusing on investing in its people. Global partnerships help us a lot in the dialogue of culture. When you build schools all over the world, you are giving an opportunity for young people to interact and to have interfaith dialogue because they are coming from different religious backgrounds. We appreciate the contribution of Turkish schools in Africa in the promotion of intercultural dialogue.”
Dr. Serif Ali Tekalan
President of Fatih University
“The goal of this event organized by Peace Islands Institute and Journalists and Writers Foundation is to elaborate on the contributions of Turkish schools to humanity, which started as a grassroots [movement] in Turkey and expanded globally. The mission of these schools and universities, established in 160 countries, is to ensure peace and stability through the collaboration of international organizations and local governments.”
Member of Parliament
The Republic of Turkey
“This gathering enlightened my hopes for future generations. The name of the United Nations gives us a clear emphasis on the need for unity among different countries to solve problems that influence the globe.”