Opinion
Student Well-Being Opinion

Student Voice: Withdrawing From UNESCO Is a Mistake

November 30, 2017 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Editor’s Note: Today, two students, Sophie Hussain, a sophomore, and Colin Jensen, a senior at Naperville Central High School, share their views on why the U.S. should not have withdrawn from UNESCO.

by guest bloggers Sophia Hussain and Colin Jensen

Walking into our AP Comparative Politics class on October 12, 2017, we learned that the United States had announced its decision to leave UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. As a country, this is a collective step backward.

Initially, when we learned about this decision from our teacher, Letitia Zwickert, we knew very little about UNESCO, which motivated us to discover why this decision was of such importance, not only to our country, but also to the rest of the world. After researching further, we began to understand how vital UNESCO is to maintaining strong ties between different cultures.

The purpose of UNESCO is to promote diversity and support different cultures. Its mission is to educate constituents worldwide about building peace, preventing poverty, promoting dialogue, and fostering worldwide development. By being a signatory of UNESCO, a nation communicates that it stands in support of cultural diversity. This, in turn, encourages all of its citizens to embrace differences through a cultural and educational lens. Although the goals of UNESCO might not affect people on a day-to-day basis, the values and morals UNESCO promotes help us embrace and celebrate our differences. This is vital to all societies to prevent negative social tension, encourage acceptance of diversity, and educate students in global citizenship.

For the average person, UNESCO has an overwhelmingly symbolic approach. For individuals and countries that are in need of assistance, UNESCO has developed initiatives to help them, prioritizing nations by need and allocating funding and resources accordingly.

Individuals of all ages are affected by UNESCO. By fostering collaboration and global understanding, UNESCO empowers state and local authorities, as well as local and global nonprofit organizations, to take steps toward fostering global understanding by creating strong and interconnected societies. This gives all regions of the world the ability to innovate and change our world for the better and for the future. This cannot be done without a bold global coalition to lead the way and strive to work and collaborate as a single entity.

If you examine UNESCO’s work closely, you can appreciate how difficult it has been to come so far in such a short time. For example, in working with UNESCO, world leaders from low-income countries have joined forces to increase access and availability of high-quality global citizenship education. UNESCO has embraced an innovative approach to help children who have been deprived of a basic education. The intent of these and other UNESCO investments is to stimulate new proposals to effect change in the developing world.

By announcing its departure from UNESCO, it will now be incredibly challenging for the United States to reclaim its voice in that conversation.

On the other hand, governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the European Union, have made their stance quite clear on supporting UNESCO. The European Union has pledged to donate 8 percent of its humanitarian aid to countries in need of resources for education, as well as millions of dollars to the Education Cannot Wait Fund. Dubai Cares has also donated $500,000. The United States faces the threat of being left behind as UNESCO and member nations continue their work around the world.

We must continue to look ahead, promote the values of organizations like UNESCO, and advocate for UNESCO’s ideals both locally and globally. The most effective way to do this is by educating people on the accomplishments of UNESCO and providing resources for taking action, such as Promoting Tolerance, the UNESCO Youth Forum, and Democracy and Global Citizenship.

By writing about UNESCO, we hope to foster this important discussion about the value of celebrating diversity and global understanding. We need everyone to participate in this conversation in order to move forward effectively.

By educating ourselves about an organization as pivotal as UNESCO, we’ve developed a greater global perspective and feel better prepared to build strong relationships, especially in this time of racial tension and instability.

Connect with Heather and the Center for Global Education on Twitter.

Photo of the authors by and used with permission of Jacob Gewarges.

Quote image created on Pablo.

The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5 to 11 Clears Hurdle to Emergency Approval
But some members of the FDA's vaccine advisory panel raised concerns that schools may prematurely mandate the vaccine for younger children.
4 min read
This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-sized doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. The vaccine appear safe and nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in 5- to 11-year-olds, according to study details released Oct. 22, 2021, as the U.S. considers opening vaccinations to that age group.
Kid-sized doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. An FDA advisory committee has recommended that the vaccine be approved for emergency use in 5- to 11-year-old children.
Pfizer via AP
Student Well-Being Pandemic, Racial Justice Fuel Surge in Demand for Social-Emotional Learning
But the growing interest in expanding SEL efforts is raising concerns about the quality of such programs, a report concludes.
4 min read
Danielle Myers leads her 4th grade class in a mindfulness exercise at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Dec. 2, 2020.
Danielle Myers leads her 4th grade class in a mindfulness exercise at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa., last December.
Sean Simmers for Education Week
Student Well-Being Children, Teens Are in a 'Mental Health State of Emergency,' Child Health-Care Groups Warn
Doctors have seen a spike in significant mental health problems among young people, spurred by isolation, uncertainty, fear, and grief.
2 min read
Conceptual image of teens feeling isolated.
ma_rish/iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Minnesota Offers Kids $200 and Scholarship Drawings to Get Fully Vaccinated
Minnesota is offering 12- to 17-year-olds who get COVID-19 vaccines a $200 reward and a shot at $100,000 worth of college scholarships.
Christopher Magan, Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
2 min read
Illustration of syringe tied to stick
Getty