International Day of Education

Today is the third International Day of Education.

I can’t remember a time when education and the importance of education have been more at the forefront of people’s minds. The on-going global pandemic has caused a level of disruption to children and young people that is almost immeasurable, and experts are warning of the lost covid generation.

Quite rightly the focus of this year’s celebration is…’Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generationnow is the time to power education by stepping up collaboration and international solidarity to place education and lifelong learning at the centre of the recovery.’

It has three main segments to it – learning heroes, innovations, and financing – and I wanted to touch on these in both this blog post and the conversation I recorded with my colleague, Dr. Rob Watson.

You can watch our interview by clicking here

How do we use the opportunity provided by the recent global social justice movements to revisit how we educate young people on the subject of conflict memory. This is the aim of the 10-day programme. To open discussions on ways this can be done, identify the best practice ‘innovations’ that exist and reach out to those ‘learning heroes’ who are making the difference.

One key factor in my view is the building of trust and identifying opportunities to collaborate on projects. This is a key aim of the Conflict Memory and Education think tank project.

Rob and I discussed our successful 2018 visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We had been asked to advise the staff team on how to utilize social media and how to resist the Disneyfication of these traumatic memories. By this, I mean the urge to cater to the demands of the South-East Asia tourist by becoming an attraction on the tourist trail, rather than a site of remembrance of one of history’s darkest episodes. It was a privilege to meet the dedicated staff team that works at Tuol Sleng or ‘S21’ as it’s also known. Their passion for ensuring the school programme was suitable and engaging for the Cambodian pupils visiting the museum was impressive. But as with all these types of facilities the world over, it is money that keeps it running and the need to cater for that tourist trail visitor is a big issue.

Our recorded interview above covered many areas especially global events that are making the news headlines.

Education is a key factor in any individual’s ability to make their way in the world. Thankfully it also has its own dedicated Sustainable Development Goal – SDG 4 Quality Education. I will continue to develop the Conflict Reportage Archive and the Conflict Memory and Education think tank, and build on the resources we currently have to ensure we curate immersive exhibits at the Documentary Media Centre, museum archive & library.

After five years of waging civil war, Cambodian Communist forces known as the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. They immediately began forcibly evacuating the residents of the capital and other cities, displacing more than two million people to the countryside. The former school of Tuol Sleng was turned into a detention centre and people began to arrive to be tortured, many ending their lives in the infamous Killing Fields outside the city.

Extract from a report written by Rob on our return:

After a tour of the museum with Hang Nisay as our guide, we spent some time observing visitors and watching how people use the spaces and the different areas of the site. Nisay graciously allowed us to record his account as we toured the museum and to share the files for education purposes on our return to the UK”.

Click here for 2 audio recordings of our Tuol Sleng guided tour

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