Could Emotional Intelligence help us build a better world and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?


Emotional Intelligence (EQ) encompasses a number of skills that have been highlighted as being among the most important in an Industry 4.0 world – and therefore among the most important skills we need to help children to acquire during their education.

In turn, there is a massive task in the world to ensure that quality education is available to every child. This goal is driven most visibly through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Bringing these two things together, here’s a conference video from the United Nations that actually explored the ways in which EQ can be harnessed in order to achieve the SDGs. It brings together some of the world’s leading experts on EQ, including Daniel Goleman.

Emotional Intelligence has been shown to foster empathy, contribute to violence prevention and peacebuilding post-conflict, improve interpersonal relationships and communication, make people more self-aware about their own feelings and the feelings

Source: Could Emotional Intelligence help us build a better world and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?

70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

There may never have been a more important time for us all to reconnect with the values that were enshrined in the Universal Declaration seventy years ago. It’s also critical that educators find means and opportunities to engage children with the meaning and understanding of human rights.

It’s all too easy for people to take their human rights for granted when they feel they live in situations where they are not under threat. However, millions today are not so fortunate. We still live in a world where persecution, unfairness and inequality are rife. In those circumstances, it’s vital that we work with children to understand how, when we stand up for the human rights of the oppressed and the less fortunate, we make a better world for all of us, a more secure world, a safer world.

Focus On Peace in Education

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
George Satayana, philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist

The Vision of the Tenby Schools states – A United World At Peace – Through Education.

I believe that there has never been a more important time than now to treat peace as a major area of importance in education. Sadly, 2015 proved to be the year that saw the highest levels of death, displacement and destruction from war and conflicts in over 25 years. We now live in a time when there are very few remaining veterans from the world wars still living. For many in the Western countries, those people (especially when they held positions of power in their countries) were the voice of restraint, the living memory of the atrocious conditions of war.

Now that the collective memory of the horrors of war is passing away, we’re seeing the rapid rise of nationalist politicians in many countries. These are opportunists who see their route to political power on the basis of dividing people, rather than putting in the intellectually more rigorous work of bringing people together. They are able to peddle their messages of division, jealousy, envy and greed in a climate where people believe, especially in Western countries, that they have the ‘right’ to more, rather than making the connections between personal responsibility, effort, commitment and dedication and accountability for the outcomes in one’s own life. In many Western countries today people are little better off than 20 years ago. However, seeking to raise their living standards they resort to borrowing, resulting in a vast cliff of debt that threatens to tumble down on the society with the slightest negative twitch of the economy.

Recently, the United Nations held a major conference looking at the issues of refugees and displaced persons – a massive issue in the world that threatens to spiral out of control as people flee conflict areas. During the opening of the conference, the UN Human Rights Chief had this to say:

Facebook – UN Human Rights Chief Zeid

This was a very powerful speech that should have received wider coverage than it did. Take, for example, the following;

“”An epidemic of amnesia is at the heart of this moral collapse in some quarters. Many seem to have forgotten the two world wars – what happens when fear and anger are stoked by half-truths and outright lies. A density of hatred builds up. The pin is pulled. The timer, released. And humanity’s rendez-vous with the ‘demon of world history’ beckons again”

A further article about the speech: CNS News – UN Human Rights Chief Lashes ‘Race-Baiting Bigots’

If we are to see peace in our world, not only at today’s levels avoiding escalation, but offering a better future for today’s children, then education has to be one of the most important aspects in the solution. We truly can ‘educate for peace’, as highlighted in this excellent Huffington Post article;

Huffington Post – Educate For Peace

The Voice of Youth

It was International Youth Day on August 12th. That will have passed most people by, seeing as they’re so busy hurtling along in the present, living their own lives “of quiet desperation,” to keep up with the Joneses, to consume, have and possess their way to happiness – so who cares what the youth think? And besides, nobody took any notice of us when we were youth, so why should it be any different now?

Well, here are some excellent reasons as set out in a statement by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon:

The Malay Mail Online – A Call To Empower Youth – Ban Ki-moon

Mine was a generation of ‘angry young men’, a generation that was pretty disdainful of the world we were inheriting from those older, who vowed to do a lot better and who claimed that we were going to put a lot of things right. When we look at the world today, we have to say we came up short in so many ways. As time went on, we lost the anger that fired us to want to change the world and fell, way too often, in to individual selfish narrow blinkered worlds obsessed with having, acquiring and using.

Just today I read a statement suggesting that in the last 50 years humans have consumed more of the earth’s resources than in all previous history. I also learned recently that in 2015 more people in the world died as a result of wars and conflicts than in any of the previous 25 years. Mankind cannot go on like this and if our generation is incapable or unwilling to think beyond short-term narrow interests, then it’s high time we gave scope for the voice of youth to be heard far stronger. Otherwise, they risk becoming a generation bowed down by cynicism and negativity and they will be no better than we were – instead of finding solutions they will just take over from us making things worse.

There has to be a better way.

Harmed By Water

When you live in developing countries (even more so, hot ones) one of the biggest challenges you have to deal with is access to safe, clean drinking water. When I was living in India, almost twice a week there would be a knock on the front door from salesmen selling expensive water purification equipment using the principle of Reverse osmosis. They would wield fancy and elaborate brochures extolling the health benefits of RO water.

Eventually, we gave in and bought one of their expensive pieces of equipment (along with the tiresome and pricey ongoing service contract for replacement of filters and servicing etc.). Now, I know the full extent of the con that was being perpetrated on us and thousands of our neighbours. One of the reasons you fall for these things is that the companies marketing these products are big, highly credible corporations with a global presence. However, it wasn’t the first time i came across a multi-national company doing things in a developing country that they would be very wary of trying in their more developed markets.

Why is it an issue? Well, here’s an article that sets out the facts and issues very well. The article has been shared online by WHO (World health Organisation) and United Nations departments:

Drink Natures Water – The Dangers of Drinking Reverse Osmosis Water

The scientific findings highlighted in the article are truly scary. Knowing that I and my family drank this water for years makes me feel quite angry and cheated.

Worse, two years after the publication of that article, here’s a typical page from a popular Indian online shopping website:

Snapdeal – Peddling Harmful Water Purifiers

I’m led to wonder – when so much more is known about the harmful effects of RO, why isn’t there legislation against this in more countries? Further, how much longer will so called respectable companies like Whirlpool, Aquaguard, Kent and Eureka Forbes continue to believe it’s acceptable for them to sell and market this equipment, knowing what we now know about the harm they are doing to health.

They may seek to suggest that it’s the lesser of two evils and that no purification would be worse. However, I believe more people need to be raising these issues to bring pressure to bear for change.

Is India Serious About Human Rights

Nearly two years ago I had the good fortune and the honour to go to spend a few days at the United nations Council of Human Rights in Geneva, including being Chief Guest in a workshop on ‘Education, values and Human Rights’. The whole trip was a fascinating learning experience – a first hand opportunity to see one of the most critical bodies within the United Nations at work. One of its most useful processes is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Every member country undergoes such a ‘peer review’ process. The idea is that a group of member countries present a detailed analysis of all aspects of the country’s human rights position – current strengths, weaknesses and progress made since the previous UPR.

When I was there, the UPR for the USA was presented. This was lively and controversial as many countries sought to put America on the spot and hold them accountable for such things as the failure to close the ‘prison’ at Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners who are suspected to be terrorists are held without trial. There were also many other issues on which America came in for frank and open criticism. It was encouraging to see the degree of frank and open discussion and that this process at least achieves some degree of accountability. This is vitally important if the countries of the world are to get along, build trust and be accountable both for their actions towards other countries and towards their own citizens.

Having seen the process at work, first hand, I was troubled a few days ago to see the following editorial column in The Hindu newspaper: The Hindu – Travesty of Justice

What this seems to amount to is india thumbing its nose at the international community, even on issues where it has signed up to international conventions or made certain commitments to the world to comply with world standards and positions on key issues of human rights. It becomes difficult to see how India can take such a belligerent line and yet consider that it has the right to be at the table to impose its views on other countries. It also brings in to question India’s avowed wish to be respected and treated as a ‘First World country’. It also concerns me that this wasn’t reported on more in the country or considered a significant issue for debate or discourse. I can’t help thinking that, over time, this is going to have a negative impact on the country’s relationship with other countries, even potentially on trade and international relations. There is also a bitter irony, keeping in mind the furore in the country in recent weeks about the Delhi rape case, that gender inequality issues were one of the identified weak areas where other countries were asking India to take a more careful look, but India’s response was to suggest that these issues were all under control!

For those who might wish to explore the issue in more depth, here are some more useful links;

Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN

India’s UPR

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