International Youth Day: Interview with Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize
2014 Peace Nobel Award Kailash Satyarthi during his speech in the World Education Forum 2015
Javier Collado Ruano: Dear Kailash Satyarthi, my name is Javier Collado-Ruano. I am working in Brazil as a professor in the University, and we have followed an approach with the nattier, indigenous people, and with poor people living in the favelas. I think there are different kinds and levels of poverty. There is not the same poverty that there is in Bolivia, that in Brazil, that in India. Also if there are no magical solutions of course, they all are interconnected. What has to be done as professor, as researcher, and as journalist to show this kind of child labor programs and poverty?
Kailash Satyarthi: Absolutely. One thing is very clear that the Eastern education cannot be solved in isolation; it is interconnected with the human rights and development. And that means that it is interconnected with the poverty and other sort of problems, including the money like this, on our children and so on. So, what I have been propagating to many is this triangular pattern, you understand, poverty, child labor, and literacy are interconnected. So we have to find solutions and holistic windows, not just opening up schools and hiring teachers – that is important – but also we have to withdraw the children from exploitism, exploitive labor, we have to see that how it can link with the poverty and literacy programs and the different programs. So that’s one area. But everybody now has some sort of connectivity with the Internet or with young people in schools, colleges, universities, and the professors, activists, everybody has some sort of connectivity with the ultimate knowledge to Internet. We live in a cyber-world. We have to see how the power of cyber works, how the power of information technology, how the power of social media, could be generalized for good, for making this world better – especially for children. So when we come to any area where there are exploitation, then I love education, then I love childhood, child abuse, child rape, and things like that, we can get to respond to it, be the partner in change, through the social media. We can also encourage some of the good practices, which are coming from, which is coming from, the civil society, from the government, from the international organizations, corporate world, and from anywhere.
We have to promote them through social media to generate hope, because hope is the spark. Hope is the fire; hope is the power to change the world. Frustration and hopelessness is no answer. Young people, and the young people like you and the officer, can build hope.
Javier Collado Ruano: I believe this is also the theme of World Education Forum, however to countries like Korea where the economic development has already been reached to its own level, if we left more on children’s education, then there will be a lot of side effects caused by it. There have been numerous reports saying that Korean students are the unhappiest students in the world. Their satisfaction level on education is very low. So I believe UNESCO and all the other related international organizations should find a way to maybe redistribute education, or investment on education, just like how they do with economies. In that sense, how do you think this should be and what kind of rules or responsibilities do you think the other developed countries that should on the distribution of education?
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova along Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Incheon, Republic of Korea, May 19, 2015.
Kailash Satyarthi: Good. I understood your question, that’s why I said that Korea and countries who are much well off have to build more child friendly education where the children should feel less pressurized and more interested, interest for education. Let me underline one principle, which satisfaction does not lie only in value and prosperity. Satisfaction does not lie only in knowledge. Satisfaction lies in something else. Happiness and satisfaction does not lie in what we gain, it lies in what we give. Not just in Korea, the Korean businesses, the Korean corporations, are clearly from all across the world. May it be automobiles, may it be telephones, may it be other kinds of electronic goods, or electric goods, Korea is a brand. Everybody is using it. But the more important thing is that how you these gains to the rest of the world. And when you start giving it back to the rest of the world, then it will make you much more satisfied and happy. One thing, that no society in the world whatever rich they are, they must not feel that they can live in isolation. They cannot live in the island of prosperity. The world is so interconnected, that all the problems, all the tricks, all the challenges, and the solutions are interconnected. Our vision has to be globalized. Our action has to be globalized. I offer all of my support to the young people of Korea. I want to be their friends. And I want to make them friends to raise their level of happiness. And I call upon them to connect with the rest of the world’s children. To learn more about their issues, and to respond how they can. Then they will feel connected. They will also feel, the young people in Korea then feel connected with the rest of the world, and also feel happy that at least they are supporting some good cause. At least they are raising some motions against something that’s going on in the world, so they should not remain confined to themselves. They should open and break the cells of individualism. Go out. You are hopes for the world. Identify yourself and really play your role. Hatred, frustration, ostracized, are no answers. Answer lies in discovering your inner power: your economic power, your knowledge power. And help others in the world. And then your satisfaction level will go severely high.
Javier Collado Ruano: And what do you think should be the fundamental goal of education for children?
Kailash Satyarthi: The objective of education is basically to discover the human qualities and potential of every single human being, every single community, and in the world. Eventually this potential should be translated for the betterment of the world, for creating a world where everybody is happy and helping each other. So education is a connector, education is not only for economic return. Education is for empowerment. Education is for exploration of inner strength and inner humanity, and then uses it for the betterment of the world. So education has many objectives like one has to become more rational through education. Education helps in reasoning, increasing reasoning of individuals. It helps in social gestures, equality in society, and so many things. But the most important is education should eventually explore the humanity from inside and multiply, translating it into society.
Javier Collado Ruano interviewing Kailash Satyarthi in the World Education Forum 2015. Incheon, May 20.
Javier Collado Ruano: What is the role of happiness here?
Kailash Satyarthi: Good. In many of those countries which are comparatively poor, but the happiness level is high, Bhutan is one of them, Sweden, Bangladesh, even Nepal who has been facing so much problems and poverty, the many countries in the world, also in south Asia, where the happiness level is high, I think the social fabrics, connectivity among the people, brings them more sense of security, more sense of cooperation, and eventually leads to the level of happiness. The people are much more open. They can cry. They can fight. They can love. Freely. And that brings them much more closer and open, in a way. Closer in the sense that close to each other, open advantage. So that is, some of those things are very vital. Some of those very poor people. They can laugh; they can dance together every evening, or every morning. Even in the schools they can make fun, they can make noise, they are naughty children, but their level of happiness is high. Some sort of mental openness and freedom, some sort of connectivity and social fabrics, and social connect makes them happy. Then one can learn from them.
Javier Collado Ruano: During your speech you have considered Korean economy and Korean education as a good example case. What are the factors that you’ve considered to call Korea the good education example? I was wondering if you think there should be any principles, or any conscious factors that we should consider when utilizing Information Technology on education?
Kailash Satyarthi: In Korea, one can definitely learn that how education has advanced, the new developments and technology, information technology is one of them, but all kind of technology, and translated into the massive industry ligation. So it helped in getting rid of poverty, and build the prosperity, brought the prosperity to the nation, that one can learn, that how to translate the power of knowledge into the economy.
A kind of double-edged sword. It is very important to connect the world. It is very important to advance the searches and development and technology, and for the progress. In solving many of the social and humanitarian problems, including health issues, including hunger issues, including ecological issues, ITT is very important. But ITT is also being misused, for pornographic, for different kind of sexual abuse, for violence, spreading violence, almost all terror groups in the world are very advanced in ITT. They are misusing the power of ITT. So these are dangers involved in it.
Javier Collado Ruano: Do you think we could promote peacebuilding by reducing competiveness?
Kailash Satyarthi: I think these two things should be complimentary. Competitions should go for better achievement and being more creative in finding solution to the problem. But if the competition becomes to go alone and push back others, then it is wrong.
Javier Collado Ruano: In the group in which I am working in Brazil, we have many contacts with Indian professors, as for example the theosophist Professor P. Krishna, a well-known researcher for his work in the Rajghat Education Center and the Krishnamurti Foundations in India. In harmony with the interconnectivity you were talking about before, he told me “global violence is an individual responsibility.” So what is the role of arts, indigenous knowledge, spiritual approach, culture and science to build a global citizenship education to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
Kailash Satyarthi: It is a proven fact and I can reiterate our culture, music, dance, all forms of ours are very powerful in spreading messages, in building awareness, increasing consciousness and inner conscience. So they have to blame either role and while achieving Sustainable Development Goals or the fight to educate all children, all people in the world, these modes of communication and the power of art, must be used, utilized properly.
One thing I would say about the connectedness, as you have asked about it, it is that we are living in the world of high-speed Internet, connectivity, but unfortunately every day we are losing the connect of our souls. And the most important connect in the world is the connect to compassion. Compassion is something, an element, which is inside each one of us. And if we try to connect through compassion, we will be happier. We will make this world more simpler and better.
Javier Collado Ruano: Also if child laborers have been reduced in the last years, and millions of child deaths have been prevented, great challenges are still remaining. In abstract, what are the main challenges to face the situations of children and young labor?
Kailash Satyarthi: Best quality education and child friendly education are the more important challenges. There’s no clear data involved how many children are working with child laborers, but there are children that will be not in school and some of them must be working somewhere and they’re able to feed or somewhere, but it’s not such a big problem in comparison to starvation, for instance. That education systems everywhere have to be more conducive for children, more child friendly for children, and young people, so that the children and young people should not feel too much pressure off education. It should be easy and friendly.
Javier Collado Ruano: Finally, what message would you like to send to all our readers in the celebration of the International Youth Day? How could we motivate them to improve our common planet?
Kailash Satyarthi: So I call for three things. And the last word is that, and that is my call also, three things that really going to make this world better: the first thing is democratize knowledge. Knowledge should not remain in a few hands, it should be democratized. The second call is universalize justice, everybody must have justice in the world. And the third and most important thing is globalize compassion. We are globalizing markets and economies, we are globalizing knowledge and technology, we are globalizing information, but this is a time when we should globalize compassion.
Javier Collado Ruano: Thank you very much for your time and inspiring words, dear Kailash. I am looking forward to see you again in India to learn more about your rich experiences.