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Teachers are the gatekeepers for the future, says Dutch Secretary

ISLAMABAD, 15 MAY, (DNA) – In the Netherlands, we have this quote that it takes a village to raise a child. The idea of teachers being a gatekeeper intersects nicely with this idea, as teachers are part of the community that can help raise and provide critical thinking skills to children. Without the ability to ask these critical questions, it is impossible for a society to advance, progress, and evolve.

These remarks were made by Nanna Stoltz, First Secretary Political Affairs, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, during the closing ceremony of Pakistan Center of Excellence’s (PACE) third round of collaborative workshops; a four day residential training program between May 12 and 15, 2016.

PACE is a major CVE initiative launched by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) – with the support from the government of Netherlands – to promote democratic values, respect for diversity, fundamental human rights and virtues of tolerance as a measure of ensuring social peace and harmony for peaceful co-existence.

It aims to facilitate a socio-political discourse – the Alternate Narrative on democratic rights and responsibilities anchored in the globally accepted and practiced concepts. These concepts include adherence to the rule of law, equal citizenry, secular governance as a primary condition for social cohesion, and tolerance within the society at all levels.

The resource persons and public intellectuals who interacted with the participating university lecturers and professors from different universities across Pakistan included Dr. Zubair Iqbal, Ms. Sara Farid, Ms. AsmaSherazi, Dr. A. H. Nayyar, Mr. Safiullah Gul, Mr. Kapil Dev, Ms. HumairaMasihuddin, Mr. QiblaAyaz, and Mr. NiazMurtaza.

The discussion themes we primarily rule of law, tolerance, diversity, fundamental human rights, equal citizenry, democracy and governance, and perhaps most importantly, the scientific need to question the narratives we are given.

Participants praised the initiative, and claimed that they were inspired by the pluralistic ideas propagated by the initiative.

“I am a teacher, and I always thought I was sufficiently aware”, said Dr. Ali, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Karachi. “But now I feel a change inside, there is so much I have to learn, so many positive things I have to teach my students. We have our work cut out for us.”

Imtiaz Gul, Executive Director, CRSS, said that it was important to inculcate critical thinking in our youth, and to equip them with the art of questioning the narratives they had been given.

He said that teachers were the gatekeepers of our future, and had the ability to shape an entire generation’s mindset to propagate tolerance, diversity and equality.

The fourth PACE collaborative workshop will be conducted in June, 2016. =DNA

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