On 3 April, The Hague Institute welcomed Dr. Jet Bussemaker, Minister for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, for a lecture on ‘Promoting Global Justice through Education’. The lecture, which was part of the Institute’s Distinguished Speaker Series, was followed by a moderated Q&A session.
“It is in the school yard that human rights are invented every day.”
Dr. Bussemaker stated that the democratic process requires “a special kind of conversation” in which people with different perspectives, interests and identities come together to find joint solutions to common problems. These democratic conversations happen not only in politics, but also in civil society, and play a critical role in promoting global justice.
Education is essential for democracy, said Dr. Bussemaker, in that it teaches young people how to engage in democratic conversations and debate, which enables them to make informed decisions about their individual and collective future. It prepares them for life as mature and responsible citizens, who are engaged and empathetic, who understand and value human rights.
Quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Bussemaker underlined the importance of young people being familiar with the world and its history and being able to appreciate its diversity. “The world cannot be understood from a single point of view” she emphasized.
Dr. Bussemaker stated that Dutch society is becoming more fragmented, with divisions between people based on their lifestyles and ideas widening, while dialogue has ceased. Education, both in the Netherlands and abroad, can provide future generations with a broader and more nuanced worldview. She stated –
“Our response must be to strengthen and bolster democracy as a place where differences converge, where conflict is allowed – but where we use this conflict as a basis for exploring the best solution for all.”
Dr. Bussemaker concluded by noting that, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, citizens must be informed and be able to think for themselves. But they must also be able to have a democratic conversation that leads to a society where universal human rights are paramount, that strives for justice, freedom, dignity and equality.
Read the minister’s full speech here.