Lecture: "Quality, integral, and holistic education: a right for peace and happiness of the human being" - Dr. William Soto Santiago
We live in an age where the right to quality, integral, and holistic education for peace and happiness of the human being, has become a fundamental premise that must be addressed by governments as a priority in the National Development Plan of all countries.
Education is a power that can transform societies; For this reason educational systems, both in primary and higher education, cannot be indifferent to the current problems facing the world, such as migration, a process that has violated the right to education of thousands of people who have been forced to desert temporarily or permanently from schools and universities.
Education is a key factor in effectively combating poverty, inequalities, and counteracting other problems such as the growing wave of terrorism in different parts of the world.
The strengthening of ISIS and the emergence of new extremist groups are destabilizing peace at the global level. These groups provide education for war, capture children and young people, forming them with the promise of a teaching focused on discipline, belonging, a goal and a sense of work; but in reality they are educated with the culture of violence. They take advantage of the poverty, lack of education, and the despair of the parents of these children and young people. But in other cases it is surprising to see the decision of university students and professionals who voluntarily decide to join the ranks of these radical groups, as an extreme measure in search of an identity, a purpose, a reason for life, or the need to feel accepted.
The only way to counter this global problem is, first of all, with the serious and determined commitment of the authorities to establish mechanisms so that all citizens of the world can enjoy their right to education, but not just any education: A teaching based on human rights, ethical, moral, and spiritual values, which allow the individual to make the right decisions, and firstly produce well-being in the person, their family, and that positively impact his environment.
We must reorient those ethical and moral values and incorporate new parameters in education, recognizing the importance of promoting spiritual values (such as love, faith, and hope), which will allow people to be trained in different disciplines, but also beings with solidarity, inclusiveness, that practice justice, that promote equality, people who have a purpose, a meaning in their lives that allows them to transform their environment through actions, respecting the rights of people and Mother Earth.
And part of the solution is to change the educational culture, in which disciplines have become independent of ethics, principles, and values. Definitely, establishing new paradigms of an education for peace, based on the integral formation of the human being in his heart, spirit, and body, is an immediate necessity.
It is necessary to constantly review and update the prism through which we observe the surrounding social phenomena. Something similar should be done with educational models, since we are educating the youth of the 21st century with a model whose foundational parameters and philosophical principles have their roots in the environment and the needs of the eighteenth century.
Many educational models focus on regulating the educational process, defining the contents to be imparted, the procedures, but do not penetrate into the very essence of teaching. A good educational model must first recognize how the individual is formed in an integral way.
In this context, universities are generators and promoters of human capital needed for the transformation and development of society, and university professors have the great responsibility to train professionals with integrity on the basis of discernment in values, professionals capable of responding to problems of their surroundings, in all the orders, relating the content of the subject with the real world. But this formation in values, is based mainly on the example, in which- both the professor and his subject - consolidate a systematic process of knowledge and skills throughout the university career, to prop up and enhance said values in their students through communication – above all else – affective and applied in different situations according to the needs that are presented during the education process.
Education should promote and contribute to the students, through a process of integral, holistic, reflective, and supportive formation, in order to forge in them: 1) Respect and appreciation for democracy and Human Rights; 2) The dissemination of scientific knowledge, to improve the response to environmental changes and sustainability; 3) Culture, which allows building bonds, safeguarding and promoting heritage, cultural identity, and creativity; 4) The use of the democratizing potential of information and communication technologies; And 5) The awareness that the whole is in the part and that the part is in the whole.
Integral and holistic education should make students transformational leaders, having the following characteristics: 1) They transform themselves; they are in a permanent evolution as leaders; 2) They transform those around them and those who they work with; develop other leaders, create value for people. That is, those who work with them also grow, and those who work with them also become richer and better developed as people and professionals; 3) They transform the organization, the community and the world; Therefore, they take charge of something, and that which they take care of, when they leave it, they leave it transformed.
It is necessary to consolidate an integral education, humanistic, in the culture of peace and harmony of living beings with the planet and the cosmos, and within the culture of peace, to understand that the planet is not ours, we are usufructuaries: our life depends on the planet, and we have to live in harmony with our Mother Earth.
In recent times, experts have mentioned that education at all levels and in its various forms, but especially at the tertiary or higher level, focused on developing qualities linked to competitiveness and efficiency, and forgot about the environment and its challenges, what is known under the metaphor of the "Tower of Ivory".
At the moment attention is drawn to some authoritative voices, such as that of Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University, who in the chapter "Moral Development of Students" in his book Social Responsibility of Modern University mentions the need to give ethical content to students and force them "to think carefully and rigorously about the eternal human problems."
The importance of raising this concern lies in the fact that in addition to training good professionals, students are required to be people with a better educated citizen conscience and a willing heart to defend the life, peace, and happiness of human beings.
If we bear in mind that happiness is the most intimate yearning of every human being, the leitmotiv of his existence, education should not concentrate only on "being," "knowing" and "know-how"; The circle of the educational system must be complemented and the individual must be taught to make decisions: that is "knowing how to decide"; To transform all the knowledge acquired in actions, based on the information received in that process of formation, but to decide under a criterion that allows to promote with our actions, the happiness, the improvement, and the integral peace of the human being.
It is also important to recognize ethno-education as a decisive factor in the new paradigm of an integral and holistic educational model that seeks the sustainable development and care of Mother Earth.
Education must teach people to take conscience of their actions to make the right decisions, because each of their lives is the product of their decisions, the present and future of a community and a nation is a consequence of the decisions and actions taken by their leaders. This is where the importance of training in values lies.
In this entire model the family cannot be left out to complete the totality of actors of the educational process: student, family, community, educational institution, and State.
The human being is made up by heart or soul (as many call it), spirit, and body. This is what I have been proposing for some years under the concept of an "integral human being". The soul or subconscious is also called the heart; this is where the message, the information or teaching received is valued, and the decision-making process is based on the freedom of choice.
For this reason, I find the statement of the scientist and philosopher Rudolph Steiner very correct: "The great challenge of the coming centuries of humanity would be to allow the heart to teach us to think in a new way."
For this reason, I urge you to take action through effective strategies, to establish a culture of peace throughout our continent, through the implementation of an integral and holistic educational model that recognizes the essence of the people as a basis for achieving the inalienable rights towards the peace and happiness of the human being and Mother Earth.
This educational model as a set of purposes and guidelines that orient and guide action in academic functions should be an integral part of the public policy of a national education that forms youths for a culture of peace, as a critical and strategic long-term issue.
That is one of the objectives we have set for ourselves at the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace and to which we invite you all. You are welcome to join this project in favor of the human family.
Thank you very much.