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Tolerance Academy is a response to the ravaging spread of violent extremism. It is the flagship project of Youth Tolerance for Peace Development Initiative (YTFPDI) based in Nigeria and aimed at raising young peace educators who would help propagate messages to prevent and counter any form of violent narratives.

Tolerance Academy is conceptualized based on the fact that the positioning of youth in society has a bearing on their leadership potential and their possible role in peacebuilding. The tension between young and old has been one of the key features of inter-generational shifts pertaining to the control over power, resources and people.

The tension lies in the palpable impatience of youth, their desire to strive for more, their willingness to be seen as responsible and capable, and the structural barriers to their social mobility. Independence from others and responsibility for others, such as taking care of a family or household, can be seen as defining markers of pre-requisites of social adulthood.

In this sense, dependency, exclusion, and social or political marginalization become prominent sources of social contest. At the same time, it should be recognised that such societal dynamics, challenges and opportunities vary across different cultural contexts whether it is in Africa, Europe, Asia or Latin America.

Within the challenging fluidity of post-conflict environments, which are nothing but contexts where the politics of war continue through different means, the young would need to show great ‘navigational skills’ in order to respond to such power dynamics. Their social, political and economic navigation is about their identity transformation as well as the negotiation or re-negotiation of societal norms, values and structures so that they can find a voice and place in the emerging structures of post-conflict environments.

This, in a part, is what Tolerance Academy is offering.

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Violent extremism affects us all, we must all respond with equal measure to neutralize extreme tendencies. This is a call to action, to move beyond partisanship and hold on full throttle to the campaign against violent extremism in any form.

The virulent spread of violent extremism has greatly troubled the international community over the last several years. Violent extremist groups are posing a direct assault on the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and are undermining efforts to maintain peace and security, foster sustainable development, and promote the respect for human rights.

2016 saw the escalation of violent extremism around the world and for the first time, violent extremism became world’s most haunting phrase, given the attendant harrowing experiences people have been subjected to. While some terrorist attacks were duly reported and given media coverage globally with condolences pouring in from all over, in some others, victims who were lucky to survive absorb their pains without much ‘fanfare’. These ones bear the scars of their wounds like medals having jumped off the claws of act of violent extremism. In some cases, the scars could be losing one arm, or losing one leg, or going blind, or being rendered homeless and orphaned. These are permanent scars that send endless reminders of horror, grief and depression. We are extremely together with these ones and the ones who have gone to the world beyond as we would continue to hold brief for the lost ones.

We must all come together to defeat the scourge of violent extremism.

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It has become imperative to go the young way and leverage the opportunities young people offer to rescue the world and build a future for the generations coming behind. This, one part is the primary focus of the Tolerance Academy project.

We have to recognise the positive and active role and contributions of young people in promoting development, peace, democracy and in protecting and promoting value based systems, such as tolerance and understanding, including respect for other cultures. The future success of the global society rests with the continued commitment and contributions of young people in promoting and sustaining value based systems and principles, and the commitment to investing in and promoting their development, particularly through the creation of opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship.

The younger generation, particularly those in their late teens and 20s, many of whom are struggling to find meaningful employment, have aspirations that deserve to be heard. They are often the first to recognize a problem or feel its effects — from joblessness to the rise of extremism. Young people are also often best able to propose and implement solutions that shift the needle and have an enduring impact.

Young people have proven capabilities, and are contributing to national life — whether they work in private enterprise, public sector or with voluntary organizations. They should be seen not only as the beneficiaries or as passive recipients of support. Rather, they should be recognized in their own right as champions, custodians and innovators in development.

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