Engaging youth and educators for social cohesion in India

On 10 December 2021, on Human Rights Day, the UNESCO New Delhi Office, in partnership with the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP), held the first in a series of six Training of Trainers workshops on ‘Engaging Youth for Social Cohesion’ for youth leaders in India.

Given the increasing levels of social tensions and divisive communication in current times, driven significantly by challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a strong need within the region to build the capacities of youth leaders to champion social cohesion and promote intercultural dialogue as tools for socio-emotional resilience to help sustain  cohesion and peace.

Focused on the Indian context, this first Training of Trainers session brought together some 40 young leaders, educators, and representatives of community organizations. The first phase of the workshop focused on equipping the youth leaders to be future agents of change by teaching them how to facilitate various methodologies for supporting dialogue and social cohesion within communities, such as UNESCO’s Story Circles approach and a novel scenario-based learning technique.

Discussion on the concepts of conflict and challenges to social cohesion followed, helping the young leaders to explore the nuanced risk factors, root causes, and vulnerabilities which can drive conflict, and what is needed to strengthen social cohesion and dialogue as effective preventative strategies.

Following the training of trainers session, the youth leaders will be supported to utilize the approaches within their own communities and contexts. Benefitting from access to a platform for good practice sharing and a series of peer-support sessions, UNESCO will help the 40 youth leaders to engage over 1,000 community beneficiaries across India, strengthening socio-emotional resilience for cohesion and peace throughout the country.