Mary Lenehan chats to Karl Zarhuber

Karl J Zarhuber Porträt 5Mary Lenehan, Education Fast Forward’s Chief Operating Officer chats to Karl Zarhuber. Karl will be joining EFF for the first time. Karl works for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and will be joining from Vienna.

MARY: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
KARL: I was a teacher for 10 years, teaching German language, literature and religion before I joined the Austrian Youth Red Cross who is an educational partner of the formal education system providing values based education for children and young people. I served more than fifteen years as Secretary General of the Austrian Youth Red Cross working in the area of education and after that I became really passionate about humanitarian education …

MARY: What is your role in the Red Cross?
KARL: I currently work as “Humanitarian education coordinator” with the IFRC Learning & Research Team but based at the Austrian Red Cross in Vienna. My role and responsibility focuses on the global facilitation of the development of the humanitarian education initiative and the global moderation of the Humanitarian Education Learning Portal (HELP). This means in particular to coordinate and ensure the RCRC Movement approach of the humanitarian education initiative, and the involvement and participation of National Societies (together with regional colleagues)…

MARY: How does education fit into the work of the Red Cross?
KARL: At the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement we feel that education is crucial to addressing the causes of problems to develop sustainable solutions for humanitarian challenges and to prevent and alleviate human suffering through education. Based on the Red Cross and Red Crescent Fundamental Principles and Humanitarian Law the RCRC Movement has a unique approach, a role and a mission when it comes to contributing full impact by educating children and young people by taking humanitarian values to action improving their lives and the communities they live in.

MARY: What do you feel the biggest challenge in education is that we face today?
KARL: In addition to providing access to education for all children and young people across the globe, the biggest challenge I see is to connect values based education with public and general education, furthermore to connect soft skills learning with hard skills learning. To enable a holistic approach within education, it’s crucial to link “soft skills” learning with “hard skills” learning. Soft skills (life and career skills and humanitarian competencies) as provided by humanitarian education (HE) are very much required by economic and corporate sector and for civil society development too.

MARY: If you could change just one thing in education what would it be?
KARL: I would introduce values & knowledge education as a holistic approach to education and soft skills learning would become more important than hard skills learning. Hard skills don’t have any value without the necessary soft skills.

MARY: For readers of this blog what is the one thing you would like them to remember?
KARL: “Values generate the effective change more than economy”, I remember Bill Clinton once said. In that sense values should have the lead in education and humanitarian education should underpin all education. That means all people of all generations as citizens, decision makers and opinion leaders would need the ability and competency to interpret daily life situations from a humanitarian perspective to become “humanitarians” who act accordingly, who care for themselves and others to make their own lives, the community and the world a better place.

To learn more about the work of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies visit

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