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Can education end terrorism?

Terrorism is like a fire that is spreading through the globe. Killing terrorists will not kill terrorism, but further ignite it. Only the light of education can chase away the dark shadows, according to prominent world leaders who have held forth on this issue. Terrorism has no religion or community, it is singleminded in its pursuit of goals through violent means that harm others. Can education make a difference to the bigger picture? Will eradicating illiteracy also remove the scourge of terrorism? Let us examine if education can end the deadlock and ignite young minds to turn to peace.

Yes

1. Extremism can be combated through education : Broad based cross cultural education aimed at improving outlooks and fighting fanaticism will yield a positive result in eliminating terrorism from the face of this earth. It has been seen in the Middle East, Central Asia, Far East and parts of Africa. Educating persons in a way that promotes tolerance and respect for diversity and differences will definitely go a long way in combating terrorism.

2. Education is the best tool to reach the youth : Most operatives of terror groups are from young age groups. Reaching young people and helping them to see a just and fair world full of opportunities will empower them and education is the means to achieve this.

3. Education promotes peaceful coexistence : 21st century education is pertinent to national security. Education teaches people to respect others as equals regardless of faith, culture or nationality and to live peacefully within a community.

4. Education mobilises the youth : Education is the perfect medium to mobilise and motivate the youth. It is also the way forward for promoting egalitarian attitudes and mindsets which are immune to radicalisation and extremism.

5. Education eliminates triggers of terrorism : Terrorist groups recruit from largely poor and uneducated sections of society which have no access to employment or money. Education will eliminate poverty and unemployment, which are often motivations for terrorism.

6. Education promotes self discipline : Education helps individuals to become disciplined and trained in peaceful coexistence with others in society. It also promotes self regulation and helps to keep violent impulses in check.

7. Education combats indoctrination : Since the 1970s to present times, domestic as well as transnational and international terrorism has taken root with more than 104,000 cases of deadly violence initiated by terror groups. These include more than 47,000 bombings, thousands of assassinations and kidnappings. At current count, according to a UN estimate, there are 256 international terror groups carrying out attacks in the world for their demands. Terrorism is based on indoctrination to support a cause through violent means. Education can serve to insulate the youth and the adults from this.

8. Killing leaders of terror groups does not stop the militant organisation, education does : Several cases abound whereby prominent leaders of terror groups have been killed, but militancy has not ended. Someone else simply takes over in the chain of command. To end terrorism, lasting social change through education is vital.

9. People can be killed, ideologies cannot : While a person can be killed, an ideology can only be combated through education. This is because education brings about positive social change. Studies show that major reasons why people become terrorists are lack of education and consequent unemployment, social injustice and inequity. Persons who are victims of discrimination also fall prey to terror groups and aim to commit crimes to avenge themselves. Preventing discrimination by promoting adequate education and gainful employment will stand in the way of terror groups. By enlightening people with strong belief systems, values and thoughts, we can change their mindset. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

No

1. Even educated persons commit acts of terrorism : In today’s world, profiles of terrorists show that many of them come from educated and liberal backgrounds and that despite their education, they are prone to extremism and radicalisation. Pervading extremist ideology knows no religion or community. It can promote terrorism despite the protection offered by education.

2. Low incomes are linked to violent crimes such as terrorism : Terrorism is not linked to low education, but low income. People from weaker and underprivileged sections of society are more likely to turn to terrorism out of frustration and anger.

3. Many terrorists are from privileged backgrounds : Educated persons from privileged backgrounds settled in countries worldwide engage in terrorism. Moreover, terrorist groups prefer to use well educated individuals to carry out coordinated attacks as they can better fit into the system and evade detection.

4. Terror groups often try to offer greater benefits to educated persons : Terrorists in some cases have been offered greater benefits such as leadership positions to educated persons who identify strongly with their cause.

5. Suicide bombers are often motivated by welfare benefits for family members : In cases where terrorists are from weaker sections of society, the promise of money to family members serves as a powerful motivator to join the terror group. The economic deprivation hypothesis holds that lack of economic growth and development are the chief causes of terrorism, not lack of education.

6. Breakdown in law enforcement also leads to terrorism : Lack of education is not the only factor motivating people to join terror groups. A breakdown in the constitutional and law enforcement machinery of the State also serves to promote anarchy and convince people to join terror groups.

Conclusion

Terrorism can be combated if education is combined with employment opportunities and empowerment for those who are recruited to terror groups from weaker sections of society. Those facing discrimination and thereby turning to terrorism can only be stopped by bringing about change in collective attitudes and promotion of non violence and peace within a nation. Interventions are required on multiple dimensions including education to bring about lasting social change and battle the scourge of terrorism.

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