Publication Date
Publication Date: 
May 4, 2016

"What are push and pull factors? And how to talk about them?"

Developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this guide for teachers focuses on techniques and approaches that provide young people with relevant and timely learning opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that can help them build their resilience to extremist propaganda. It was designed for teachers in upper primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary education within the framework of Global Citizenship Education (GCED), whereby UNESCO aims to empower learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and secure world. It was crafted in direct response to the needs of UNESCO's Member States as expressed in the 197/EX Decision 46 taken by UNESCO's Executive Board in October 2015. As such, this guide also constitutes UNESCO's contribution to the implementation of the UN Secretary-General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, as it relates to the Education Sector. To read more about this Plan of Action, announced in January 2016, click here.

In this guide, violent extremism refers to the beliefs and actions of people who support or use ideologically motivated violence to achieve radical ideological, religious, or political views. The idea is that education can:

  • Help young people develop the communication and interpersonal skills they need to dialogue, face disagreement, and learn peaceful approaches to change;
  • Help learners develop their critical thinking to investigate claims, verify rumours, and question the legitimacy and appeal of extremist beliefs;
  • Help learners develop the resilience to resist extremist narratives and acquire the social-emotional skills they need to overcome their doubts and engage constructively in society without having to resort to violence; and
  • Foster critically informed citizens able to constructively engage in peaceful collective action.

The guide provides practical advice on when and how to discuss the issue of violent extremism and radicalisation with students and how teachers can create an inclusive and respectful classroom climate that encourages open discussion and critical thinking. The publication also recommends resources to develop a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of violent extremism and responds to frequently asked questions such as "What are the ground rules?" or "How to be a non-judgmental listener?" One suggestion: "Whether discussions on violent extremism are pre-planned or not, a well-managed conversation on the subject should seek to reinforce skills that enable learners to participate more generally in civic life as informed global citizens. This implies ensuring that the information exchanged during the discussion, as well as the way the debate is handled, develop skills, attitudes and behaviours that foster mutual respect, critical thinking and a sense of belonging to a common humanity."

The guide was created after a consultation process with experts and teachers from all over the world. It was peer reviewed by a host of international experts in the field of education, as well as Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) schools and students of the Teachers College of Columbia University. It was also field-tested by educational stakeholders in selected countries. UNESCO feels that it should be considered a prototype, which can be contextualised, adapted, and translated in order to respond to the specific needs of learners.

Number of Pages: 



UNESCO website and European Association of History Educators website, both accessed on November 2 2016. Image credit: UNESCO