Sixth UNESCO MGIEP Distinguished Lecture: Education, Blind Faith & Societal Violence

5:30–7:00 pm
UChicago Center in Delhi


Most forms of institutionalized education, whether in schools, colleges, universities, or institutes, seek to provide:

(a) familiarity with and understanding of what the education providers regard as ‘knowledge’;

(b) the ability to apply that knowledge to a range of problems and situations.

With the focus on understanding and application, the development of learners’ capacity for critical thinking and inquiry, and their understanding of the rational justification (evidence, arguments) for the concepts and statements of knowledge, get overlooked. As a result, learners get habituated to accepting assertions of the elders (experts, textbook writers, and teachers) on blind faith.

Suppose we use the term ‘schooling’ to refer to attending classes and doing well in tests and exams to get degrees and certificates that lead to lucrative employment, and the term ‘education’ to refer to the process of developing mental capacities that are of value to humans in their personal, professional, and public lives. We find that mainstream education typically produces ‘schooled’ individuals with degrees and certificates, who can be easily manipulated by governments, corporations, and religious fanatics, again because of blind faith in authority.

One of the results of such manipulation is the obscuring of the nature of collective violence, whether in the form of the invasion of one country by another, the violence of two religious communities against each other, the violence of the powerful (e.g., governments; the military) against the powerless (e.g., indigenous people; peaceful protesters; minorities), or the violence of freedom fighters or terrorists against innocent civilians. In this talk, Professor K.P. Mohanan explored that if we can go beyond mere schooling to develop systems of real education, and help the next generation as they grow up to develop resistance to indoctrination, so that they can then be able to resist the indoctrination by politicians, corporations, and religious leaders, we may have a reasonably good chance of significantly reducing these forms of violence. It may be our only chance.


The Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development was established with the generous support of the Government of India. As an integral part of UNESCO and the organization’s specialist institute on education for peace and sustainable development to foster global citizenship MGIEP is the technical advisory body to governments, organizations and academic institutions leading UNESCO’s work on advancing research, policy and discourse on Education for Peace and Sustainable Development.

MGIEP Distinguished Lecture Series

The UNESCO MGIEP Distinguished Lecture Series invites speakers of global eminence to spark transformative ideas for our shared future. These Distinguished Lecture series are intended to initiate an international discourse to build a more peaceful and sustainable world and to re-envision the nature and role of education in this new paradigm.