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Baha’is cherish the ideal of universal education, with the goal of encouraging each child to contribute their talents to the peace, security and well-being of humanity.
Address yourselves to the promotion of the well-being and tranquillity of the children of men. Bend your minds and wills to the education of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, that haply the dissensions that divide it may, through the power of the Most Great Name, be blotted out from its face, and all mankind become the upholders of one Order, and the inhabitants of one City. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 333-334.
Never before in human history have we had the ability to educate everyone; and Baha’u’llah’s principle of universal education has unleashed a flood of new educational initiatives.
The United Nations has made universal primary education one of its Millenium Development Goals for 2015. The Peace Corps, the Global Campaign for Education and Save the Children, among many other global non-profits and NGOs, all have the noble goal of promoting universal education. (The Save the Children Fund was set up at a public meeting in London’s Royal Albert Hall in May 1919, and Abdu’l-Baha was a founding donor.)
Following Abdu’l-Baha’s example, multiple Baha’i-inspired charitable organizations now work on universal education around the globe. FUNDAEC (www.fundaec.org) which operates in Central and South America; Full-Circle Learning (www.fullcirclelearning.org) which educates teachers in a humanitarian educational model and especially promotes girls’ education in Africa, Asia and the Americas: and the Mona Foundation (www.monafoundation.org) which funds the education of women and girls in ten of the world’s poorest countries – all use Baha’i-inspired models of education.
These growing Baha’i-inspired initiatives base their work on the necessity for universal education among all people. The Baha’i teachings cite such work as one of the fundamental requirements for world unity, when standards and ethics of human behavior achieve a common focus, and when true education advances positive moral and spiritual values:
Education is essential and all standards of training and teaching throughout the world of mankind should be brought into conformity and agreement; a universal curriculum should be established and the basis of ethics be the same. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – p. 240.
Baha’is revere knowledge, exalt learning in the sciences and arts and believe that universal education will solve many of the world’s fractious, violent and insistent social problems. This basic belief in the beauty of universal education has a supreme place in the pantheon of Baha’i principles. In fact, the obligation to educate children to address the needs of society reflects the example of the Prophets through the ages.
Baha’is believe that the Founders of the world’s great Faiths — the Prophets, Messengers and Manifestations who gave us our religions – together constitute the faculty of one universal system of human education:
Why has God sent the Prophets? It is self-evident that the Prophets are the Educators of men and the Teachers of the human race. They come to bestow universal education upon humanity, to give humanity training, to uplift the human race from the abyss of despair and desolation and to enable man to attain the apogee of advancement and glory. The people are in darkness; the Prophets bring them into the realm of light. They are in a state of utter imperfection; the Prophets imbue them with perfections. The purpose of the prophetic mission is none other than the education and guidance of the people. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 405.
In this new Baha’i Dispensation, an enormous outpouring of Divine knowledge has occurred. “The education and guidance of the people” has begun again, reborn and revitalized by that flood of revelatory knowledge. How can we spread that knowledge? By educating children:
…know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined. – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 138.