01 Oct 2019

UNAOC Group of Friends High Level Ministerial Meeting

Mr. Enver Yücel, President of BAU Global, made a speech at the UNAOC Group of Friends High Level Ministerial Meeting and expressed that the Global Citizenship Program should be included in the agenda and educational curricula of all countries.

Mr. Secretary General,

Mr. High Representative,

Excellencies, I greet you all with respect.

I would like to thank the High Representative Mr. Moratinos for giving me the opportunity to express my opinions on education, one of the most important topics of the development agenda.

On the basis of the tensions we face in the world lies the fact that people’s right to live together in peace is continuously threatened. This threat is caused by using the differences in faiths, beliefs and cultures as a source of division between different communities.

Diversity based on differences in race, religion and sect is seen less as a source of richness but more as a reason for division. And we come across with this problem more often in the regions where access to education is particularly limited.

I would like to thank, in particular, to the President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the former Prime Minister of Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero for initiating the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. This initiative is critical to promote respect, tolerance and understanding among diverse identity groups. This project should be further developed and must be sustained.

In order to overcome today’s conflicts, we need to offer a good education to our children that will build our future. It is a must for us to establish strong education systems that promote learning, life skills, and social cohesion.  As a person dedicated his life to education, I can say that starting from their early ages if we educate our children by cleansing of notions like seeing others and differences as bad and enemies, by promoting the culture empathy more, and by  building a sense of belonging to a common humanity, then a very different and a good future will await us.

As the founder of a global educational network that provides education services to more than 200.000 students at all levels, I cooperate with the United Nations specialized organizations and institutes and I develop projects to promote the culture of living together.

The most important issue in the world, again, is the lack of a culture of living together. In order to achieve this goal, the global citizenship program should be included in the education agenda and curricula of all countries. Again, in line with the 2030 objectives, Sustainable Development Goals should be added to the curricula of the countries and its principles should be put into action.

I have carried out important projects in my country, Turkey, in this respect. One example is the major documentary on civilizations, named River Flawing to the West, which has been shown on the TVs in more than 100 countries in several languages, is currently being taught as a history of civilizations course in our university, and is promoting an inclusive understanding of civilizations on a global scale. Its key message is that civilizations and religions are all for the humanity and the superiority of one over another is rejected.

I would like to state that I share the vision of Mr. Moratinos in the Alliance of Civilizations, especially in the field of education. We have to integrate lessons and projects into the school curricula that will reflect this vision. It is important to implement Erasmus-like student exchange programs within the scope of the vision of Alliance of Civilizations.

I would like to add that we have already contributed to this vision with our education projects. We integrated global citizenship, the culture of living together, and the sustainable development goals into the curriculum in our schools at all levels. We provide scholarships to students from different African countries in our schools to allow them to exchange with each other. In addition, we have been hosting the Summer University in Istanbul for the last ten years. This is a summer university where students from different religions and cultures from distinguished universities around the world participate to develop projects to prevent antisemitism and Islamaphobia.

Mr. Moratinos’ preventive diplomacy approach to conflict prevention is also important for us, educators. Youth, in the long-term perspective, has a critical role in preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention.  Conflict prevention efforts should be driven with an inclusive approach with participation of civil society, women, youth and religious leaders.

As a final remark, I would like to say that people, countries can boast of their history with narratives of heroism, but as a requirement of global citizenship education, they must eliminate the language of hate expressed against the other in their teachings. We should do our best to eliminate the language of hate against different faiths and cultures used in the textbooks in the schools.