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Unite Against Hate Speech

by Belinda Breeze

The UNESCO International Day of Education, celebrated annually on 24 January, serves as a global platform to highlight the importance of education as a fundamental human right and a key driver of sustainable development. The theme for each year’s celebration reflects current global challenges and opportunities, and in 2024 is focusing on the crucial role of education and teachers in countering the rise of hate speech amplified by social media.

Hate speech on social media has become an alarming and pervasive issue, highlighting the darker side of the digital age. The ease of communication and anonymity afforded by online platforms has, unfortunately, provided a breeding ground for the spread of hate speech, contributing to the amplification of prejudice, discrimination, and hostility.  

The impact of hate speech goes beyond the virtual realm too, affecting individuals’ mental well-being. Targeted groups, whether based on race, religion, gender, or other characteristics, may experience emotional distress and, in severe cases, face physical threats. 

That is why this year’s UNESCO International Day of Education will be held under the banner of ‘Learning for Lasting Peace’. An active commitment to peace is more urgent today than ever: Education is central to this endeavour, as underlined by the UNESCO Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development. Learning for peace must be transformative, and help empower learners with the necessary knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, and behaviours to become agents of peace in their communities. 

Safeguard the essence of our societies — empower individuals with the tools to resist and counter hate, nurturing tolerance and mutual understanding. 
Together, let’s reshape education for a brighter future.