The 21st century is characterised by technological advancement and professionalism, but is at the same time plagued by a vast number of humanitarian issues. Sometimes numbers, even though they are merely statistics which cannot capture the consequences and impact of events on people’s lives, indicate the severity of a problem, and initiate the steps to resolve it. The figures below are characteristic indicators of the issues faced by humanity today.

  • 57 million children of primary school age are out of school (UNESCO, 2013).
  • Conservative statistics cite over 250, 000 children as active soldiers in over thirty ongoing wars today (Peace Direct, 2014).
  • 650 million people in the world live with disabilities which can exclude their participation in society (UNESCO, 1995-2009).
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year (NCADV).
  • Reported data from 65 countries has shown that more than 250,000 incidents of rape occur worldwide every year (United Nations Report).
  • 51.2 million people have been forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, an increase of 6 million people since 2012 (UNHCR, 2014).
  • Almost 16, 000 children die from hunger-related causes every day; one child every five seconds (Bread for the World, 2014).
  • 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty — on less than $1.25 per day (Bread for the World, 2014).
  • “748 million people still relied on unimproved drinking water sources in 2012” (WHO, 2014).
  • It is estimated that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor globally (United Nations, 2012).
  • “500 million people live in countries at risk of instability and conflict” (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2014, p.1).
  • “The economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of violence in 2013 was significant, amounting to US$9.8 trillion per annum or 11.3% of global GDP. This amount is equivalent to around US$1,350 per person. Compared to estimates for 2012 this represents an increase of US$179 billion or 3.8% rise in violence containment costs globally” (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2014, p. 2).

If nothing else, those numbers above exhibit the peacelessness of modern societies. Education is the main means through which a transformation can be accomplished and construct a Culture of Peace in our societies. Education is the driving force that can lead societies to becoming ‘educative societies’. As the figures provided above indicate, education has not succeeded in providing the means to all individuals to grow and develop. Thus, structural change is needed. Education is the means through which one can develop critical thinkers and active, democratic citizens who are willing to participate in the affairs of their country, to seek creative solutions to problematic situations and who support equality for all, justice and compassion. What is a Culture of Peace and what is the role of Education for a Culture of Peace in bringing forward this change.

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