Education is the antidote to violence, poverty and corruption, says Nobel prize winner

Juan Manuel Santos also tells Dubai education forum that humans will perish unless they face up to the realities of climate change

Juan Manuel Santos pictured at the education forum in Dubai. Mina Al Oraibi / The National
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Huge investment in global education is needed to tackle violence, poverty and corruption, a Nobel Peace Prize winner has said.

Juan Manuel Santos told a Dubai education forum that leaders need to put the sector first if they are to lift people out of poverty and raise living standards.

The former Colombian president - who won the Nobel prize after striking a peace deal with the Farc revolutionary group after decades of violence - was speaking on the opening day of the Global Education and Skills Forum at the Atlantis resort.

“My government began an aggressive programme to increase the quality of education and we promoted access to higher education,” said Mr Santos, who was in office between 2010 and 2018.

“Teachers were given scholarships to study and enhance their skills further, both in Colombia and abroad. Today, Colombia ranks high on the PISA global scale that measures student performance. We have been progressive in furthering our education goals, but we still have a long way to go."

He said Colombia has been able to raise more of its people from poverty and low income into the middle class.

“Women and young people, particularly, are driving change and this is very important for real progress and quality of life,” he said.

Colombia’s long battle with sectarian violence, poverty and corruption could only be tackled with education.

“Corruption breeds violence and the best antidote for corruption is education,” he said.

“An educated population will reject violence. So let’s educate our children before they pick up a gun and start shooting up people.”

Mr Santos also touched on polarised societies, his hope that political "centrism isn't dead", and the crisis in Venezuela, which he said the global powers of China, Russia, the United States and Latin America itself must be involved in.

He also said the world’s governments must work together with the private sector to tackle the increasingly dire problems of global warming, plastic pollution and climate change.