The transformative power of quality education has been acknowledged by educationists and sociologists from times immemorial.
Functionalists have predominantly emphasized how education enables the development of social, emotional and behavioural capacities of individuals as well as the formation of social cohesion and solidarity (Russell, 2013).
Though the role of education in the formation of peace has been widely studied, minimal attention has been given to how education could facilitate the formation of inner-peace.
which is “a tranquil and harmonious state of mind and being” (Barash and Webel, 2014, p.04) or in other what many refer to as ‘peace of mind’.
This article points out the underlying necessity of recognizing and streamlining quality education towards building and sustaining inner peace as an integral effort.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
There is much emphasis on the quality of education and the attainment of peace in contemporary society.
This is evident from the internationally agreed United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that define the post-2015 development agenda that all UN member states have committed to.
SDG04 focuses on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all (United Nations, 2022).
SDG16 focuses on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (United Nations, 2022). Both Quality Education and Peace have been recognized through the SDGs as vital needs of the status quo.
The Need to Redirect Focus
However, when dwelling deeper into these SDGs one could identify that the indicators of both these SDGs have paid little or even no attention to how these SDGs would contribute to inner peace of individuals.
For example, the indicators of SDG04 are more focused towards accessibility, affordability, resource allocation and the curriculum.
It is quite surprising that there is no indication or call of action made that indicates that Quality Education should contribute to the development of inner peace of the learners.
SDG04 thus seems to have missed on how quality education facilitates a quality life with inner peace.
Similarly, when the indicators of SDG16 are reviewed although the establishment of peace, justice and strong institutions have been focused on multiple levels, SDG16 seems to have missed ensuring the recognition of peace at the intra-personal level.
Both SDGs have thus failed to incorporate the microscopic level although the macroscopic levels have been incorporated.
This is a major loophole which could be considered negligence of humanistic psychology when the SDGs were designed.
However, there is yet the opportunity for revision and building possible links and ties in a manner that can facilitate due regard to a more person-centric adaptation of the SDGs.
Here is how we can envision such meaningful change:
Education entails enhancing knowledge, building skills, transferring values, and transforming attitudes in learners equipping them to face the challenges of life with improved capabilities and a trained mind.
Recognizing education as one of the SDGs itself proves that it is a top priority of modern society. However, what could distinguish between Education and Quality Education is quite debatable.
As I argued earlier, SDG04 deals with multiple technicalities of education, not limited to those formal but incorporating non-formal mechanisms as well.
However, the indicators of Quality Education have been restricted to only those that are measurable and quantifiable; and that has prevented the SDG from incorporating a humanistic view of education.
Education International (EI) and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) in a special statement emphasized the importance of viewing Quality Education as “one that focuses on the whole child—the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each student” preparing the learner for life (2016, p.02).
This highlights the need to consider Quality Education as a blueprint for inner peace where learners develop the social, emotional, mental, physical and cognitive capacities that can facilitate them to face real-life challenges with a feeling that they have the required potential.
Inner Peace as the Ultimate Goal of Quality Education
As Maslow (1965) points out the ultimate goal of education should be to assist students to “move and grow toward self-actualization” (p.111) which is helping each learner discover and then release his or her full potential (Johnson, 2017 based on Montessori, 1946).
This could be also referred to as enabling inner peace in the minds of the learners as they feel that they possess the potential to face the challenges of life and live a life that they can feel content with.
As OECD (2018) points out, ensuring SDG04: Quality Education requires a learning framework that can empower learners to be innovative, responsible, and aware; in which the ultimate vision is individual and societal wellbeing.
Is it not when this vision becomes shared by educational stakeholders around the globe, both SDG04 and SDG16 will be attained and actualized to their true potential?
LSME shares the vision that Quality Education should aim at healing both the individual and the society. This is why we put the wellbeing of every learner at the forefront of the teaching-learning process.
Barash, D.P. and Webel, C.P. (2014) Peace and Conflict Studies. 3rd edn. California: Thousand Oaks.
EI and ASCD (2016) The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Pursuit of Quality Education for All: A Statement of Support from Education International and ASCD [online]. Available at: https://library.ascd.org/m/237ed008b552562c/original/ASCD-EI-Quality-Education-Statement.pdf [Accessed 13 November 2022].
Johnson, A. (2017) Education as Self-Actualization [online]. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/32599592/EDUCATION_AS_SELF_ACTUALIZATION [Accessed 13 November 2022].
Maslow, A. (1965) Self-Actualization and Beyond [online]. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED012056.pdf [Accessed 13 November 2022].
OECD (2018) OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [online]. Available at: https://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/ [Accessed: November 13, 2022].
Russell, C. (2013) Functionalist Theory of Education. In: James Ainsworth Editor, 2013. Sociology of Education: An A-to-Z Guide [online]. California: Thousand Oaks. pp. 293-294. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781452276151.n152 [Accessed 12 November 2022].
United Nations (2022) The 17 goals | sustainable development, United Nations [online]. Available at: https://sdgs.un.org/goals [Accessed 12 November 2022].