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December 4, 2021

Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil, Confers Honorary Doctorate

Certificate of honorary doctorate from Federal University of Pernambuco
Certificate of honorary doctorate from Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil

On December 4, 2021, Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) in Brazil conferred an honorary doctorate upon Daisaku Ikeda in recognition of his contributions to peace, education and culture. Broadcast live on UFPE’s YouTube, the conferral ceremony took place on the UFPE campus at the Paulo Freire Acoustic Shell, named after the renowned Brazilian educator, who was a graduate of the university.

UFPE Rector Alfredo Macedo Gomes entrusted the certificate to Brazil-SGI General Director Miguel Shiratori.

During the ceremony, the launch of the Observatório Internacional Daisaku Ikeda para a Educação Básica (Daisaku Ikeda International Observatory on Basic Education) was announced. This is an educational initiative for the integration of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the culture of peace in the curricula of undergraduate courses and in the training of teachers who will work in primary and secondary education.

Established in 1946, UFPE has developed into one of the most prestigious universities in Brazil, ranking ninth in the country in size and scientific research.

In his conferral speech, Rector Gomes expressed his pleasure in being able to confer the accolade on President Ikeda at a time when UFPE celebrates its 75th anniversary. He talked about President Ikeda’s friendship with former President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters Austregésilo de Athayde (1898–1993)—two individuals who, he said, shared a common desire for a peaceful and harmonious world founded on human rights and human dignity—and described the dialogue they published as a source of hope for the future.

Vice Rector Moacyr Araujo, in his greetings, explained that as well as being the 75th anniversary of UFPE’s founding, this year is also the centennial of the birth of Paulo Freire (1921–97), one of the key educational philosophers of the 20th century, known as the father of critical pedagogy (education based on developing students’ critical consciousness). Citing one of UFPE’s mottos, “Transform people, and those people will transform the world,” the Vice Rector described the common educational ideals of the university, Paulo Freire and President Ikeda.

In his acceptance speech, President Ikeda commended the Brazilian university for its commitment to human transformation and social justice, saying he was honored by the accolade and accepted it on behalf of all the SGI-Brazil members and the Brazil Soka Schools students. He said he hoped to make fresh, dynamic progress toward creating a “renaissance of education” together with the students and professors and proposed three guidelines for such progress: ceaseless contribution to humanity; respect for diversity, which gives rise to the creation of value; and the joy of learning together through dialogue—values which were key to Freire’s approach.

He also noted that this year marks the 150th birth anniversary of Soka Gakkai founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, himself an educator who developed the system of Soka education. Central to both Makiguchi’s and Freire’s thinking was the idea that teachers are partners in the shared pursuit of learning, which should not be an exercise in rote learning but a guided process of discovery. This process, grounded in mutual respect and dialogue, is where the true joy of human education lies, said Ikeda, expressing his hope that all people equally might experience this joy, and that humanity together might open up the “century of education” that both Makiguchi and Freire aspired to.

Federal University of Pernambuco Honors Daisaku Ikeda
Rector Gomes (front row, 5 from left) in a group photo with other university officials and representatives, and Brazil SGI representatives.

[Adapted from an article in the December 7, 2021, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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