News from Shalom – Educating for Peace in Rwanda

Posted for Cori Wielenga
Co-director, Shalom, Educating for Peace
Pretoria, South Africa

Shalom Educating for Peace is a non-governmental, non-profit organization working for building and sustaining positive peace through education in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Shalom pursues the following objectives: (i) educating for peace, (ii) researching for peace and (iii) cultivating the culture of nonviolence.

Shalom is a relatively young organization and we have spent the past few months establishing ourselves in Rwanda and Burundi. Our primary activity has been developing proposals and networking for the purpose of raising interest and funds for our projects.

Basabose has continued to broadcast our weekly peace program on a community radio station in Rwanda where the message of nonviolent means to resolving conflict has reached a wide audience and solicited high levels of debate.

Together with an American volunteer we have been initiating a peace education project with self-help cooperatives in rural Rwanda to assist in nonviolent means of communication and resolving conflict. Thanks to Megan Colnar from San Antonio Texas for her help!

For more information on Shalom’s activities and staff, please see our latest newsletter.

Summary of Peace Education Programme in West Africa by WANEP

A culture of non-violence is an imperative for our society if we are to achieve the dream of sustainable just peace and development, which has been enshrined in almost all national development plans of the various nations of the sub-region. Sustainable peace in the West Africa sub-region depends on individuals possessing the knowledge, the skills and the passion to use non-violent means to deal with conflicts that they may be involved in and also having the space and opportunity to promote the use of these non-violent conflict resolution skills.

WANEP’s Peace Education programme was implemented in selected schools in 7 West African countries from 2001 to 2004. Though the pilot phase ended in 2004, the programme lives on in different forms at both national and regional levels. Different activities within the schools such as peace posters and peace poem competitions, peace marches not only by school children but also by community youth, and peace day celebrations are carried out in some schools in all the countries, while teachers continue to devote part of their teaching time to topics developed in the peace education materials from WANEP.

Currently in Ghana, Peace Education has been formally integrated into the curriculum of the Ghana Education Service and is being taught in schools. A peace education manual jointly developed by WANEP and the Ministry of Education in Ghana and other stakeholders in Education is being used in that regard.

In terms of future plans for Peace Education in West Africa, Oxfam GB has expressed interest in funding WANEP’s Peace Education programme and a process will start very soon to develop a project proposal to that effect. I have also being in communication with the President of the Society for Peace and Reconciliation in Sierra Leone at the University of Sierra Leone to establish a Mediation Centre. This project will be supported by GPPAC Global Secretariat.

By Francis Acquah Junior,
Programme Officer, WANEP, Ghana

Celebrating the International Day of Peace by Launching a Peace Education Book

The world marked the International Day of Peace (September 21) in different and creative ways as electronic reports have indicated to us. In my case I am happy to report that my colleague, Jasmin Nario-Galace and I celebrated it by launching a book that we conceptualized long ago but had the opportunity to write and complete only recently.

The book is entitled Peace Education: A Pathway to a Culture of Peace. The overall goal of this book is to provide educators with the basic knowledge base as well as the skill- and value-orientations that we associate with educating for a culture of peace. Although this work is primarily directed towards the pre-service and in-service preparation of teachers in the formal school system, it may be used in nonformal education. It can also be a resource for those who want to understand peace issues and some of the ways by which they can help work for change towards a more peaceable society.

Jasmin and I are pleased that we can offer this small contribution to the Global Campaign for Peace Education, which seeks the introduction of peace education in all educational institutions in the world. It is our hope that our work can help in the realization of this vision. This book is firmly rooted in the belief that deliberate and sustained peace education, both in our schools and in our communities, is an important force and pathway towards a culture of peace and the prevention of violent conflict.

This book is based on our study and research as well as on our experiences as teachers and trainers. By writing about what we have come to know and experienced, we are pleased that we are now able to reach a larger community of educators and other concerned people. It is our hope that the ideas contained in this book will circulate widely and promote enthusiasm for both education and action for peace.

We have organized the book into three sections. Part I presents chapters that are meant to help us develop a holistic understanding of peace and peace education. Part II discusses the key themes in peace education. Each chapter starts with a conceptual essay on a theme and is followed by some practical teaching-learning ideas that can either be used in a class or adapted to a community setting. Part III focuses on the peaceable learning climate and the educator, the agent who facilitates the planting and nurturing of the seeds of peace in the learning environment. Finally, the whole school approach is introduced to suggest the need for institutional transformation and the need to move beyond the school towards engagement with other stakeholders in the larger society.

“To reach peace, teach peace!”

Philippine Peace Educators’ Appeal vis-a-vis the Renewed Armed Conflict in Southern Philippines

Armed fighting has once again erupted in Southern Philippines (parts of Mindanao island) following the issuance by the Philippine Supreme Court of a temporary restraining order against the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in early August, 2008.

Many people, most of whom are civilians, have been killed and more than 200,000 have been displaced in the affected areas and the situation is clearly a humanitarian crisis. Animosities and prejudices between Christians and Muslims have once again been heightened because of the attacks and counterattacks that have been happening in the last weeks. In light of the situation, the members of the Peace Education Network issued the following statement:

AN APPEAL TO END THE VIOLENCE IN MINDANAO

The Peace Education Network appeals to government forces (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to cease fighting and to heed the call expressed by many civil society groups for the resumption of dialogues and peace negotiations between them.

We appeal to the GRP and MILF to respect the existing Ceasefire Agreement and for both parties to stop taking provocative and offensive actions that can only lead to more armed confrontations.

We implore the two parties to stop the fighting and to save the peace process to which both of them have already contributed much.

We appeal for the protection of civilians against harm. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have already been displaced from their homes and livelihood and have become the “collateral damage” to this resurgence of armed conflict in Mindanao.

Finally, we call upon government officials to stop arming civilians. These weapons can easily be used irresponsibly and would further create more division, animosity, and insecurity in the communities. It is a very dangerous move given the hostile climate in many communities after the aborted signing of the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) and the events that followed. Arming civilians would only encourage communal violence, a horrifying situation that our country experienced some three decades ago.

We, the members of the Peace Education Network, will try to contribute what we can towards peace in Mindanao.

“Culture of Neighborhood” – Multicultural education in Ukraine

The core initiative, important for achieving the strategic goal of education in Crimean multiethnic region is directed at the creation and introduction of the integrated course “Culture of Neighborhood”, organized by several non-governmental organizations (in particular [url=http://www.integration.org.ua] Integration and Development Center for Information and Research [/url]), educational institutions, and supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Crimea.
The description of activities that were realized within 2004-2007, can be found in presentations of M. Aradzhyoni (aradzhyoni-brunova.ppt) and O. Smirnov (smirnov-brunova.ppt).
The new focus of our work in 2008 was aimed at the preparation of teachers for the training work in communities. The main goal of such a step is to give teachers who wish to learn the skills and experience of trainings and other active methods of education with parental and pedagogical communities in their schools. In January, 2008, 2 seminars were conducted as the first level, where the basic skills of training for adults and a set of exercises on the topic of ethnicity were presented to about 60 teachers. At the second level of ToT, 20 teachers were taught how to plan and construct such trainings for their pedagogical and parental bodies. During the seminar, 3 training programs for teachers and parents were constructed by participants. As a result, all 20 teachers signed the contracts with Integration and Development Center for Information and Research and agreed to carry out at least one training for adults during the autumn of 2008.
The regular preparation of teachers for delivering the Culture of Neighborhood lasts as well. Within the 3 summer months, the seminars for teacher of primary level are conducted.
All together in 9 districts and 6 cities, the 403 teachers of primary school level will be taught the specificity of delivering of the course “Culture of Neighborhood”. During these seminars, teachers learn the methodological bases of multicultural education in Ukraine and around the globe, and the meaning of the course “Culture of Neighborhood” as an educational tool for early prevention of ethnic and religious conflicts. Special stress was set on the teaching of conflict studies and axiology in the course.
At the moment the writing-book for the 3rd grade is prepared for publication, and the 4th grade pupils will get such writing-books in September.

Social Cohesion and the Values Agenda

Posted on behalf of Gary Shaw, Targeted Programs Branch, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, East Melbourne, Australia

In 2003 the Australian federal government embarked on a national values education project. At the time the initiative was criticised for promoting an unhealthy form of nationalism or for embarking on a moral crusade. It could be argued that an emphasis on values during this period was anchored in a post September 11 view of the world and Australia’s place in it. Enhanced national security and border control measures, interment of refugees on Pacific islands and a new citizenship test were part of a range of measures introduced from 2001 onwards. By focussing on so called ‘Australian’ values, it was claimed that ideals of cultural identity, patriotism and citizenship were distorted. 

Five years on and initial reservations about government motivation have diminished, the public values discourse has been robust, the government has changed and I suggest that values-based education is now even more appropriate given the current social, environmental and political tensions of our time. Research findings from this project indicate that effective values-based education is not only central to quality learning and teaching environments but makes a significant contribution to safe and cohesive school environments.

Values-based education was not new in Australia and education authorities in a number of states had already articulated core values within local curriculum documents before 2003. What was new was a national approach, built around an agreed framework. The Framework of Values Education in Australian Schools was informed by research in schools throughout Australia and contained nine values for Australian schooling. These included respect, responsibility, care and compassion and integrity.

In framing the kinds of shared values to be fostered in Australian schools, it was suggested that:

[i]Values are often highly contested, and hence any set of values advanced for Australian schools must be the subject of substantial discussion and debate with school communities. The application of those values to real school circumstances invariably requires that they be appropriately contextualised to the school community concerned, and involve the community in the process of their implementation. (Department of Education Science and Training 2003)[/i]

At the heart of this initiative was a desire to create opportunities and resources to assist school communities reflect on the values that underpinned school policy and practice. In many respects it gave permission for school administrators, teachers, students and their families and broader community to talk about the place they wanted their school to be and the experiences they wanted for students.

Values are defined as the principles and fundamental convictions which act as general guides to behaviour. Shared values and beliefs, often rooted in particular understandings of our history, our family and our community, make a significant contribution to the way we see each other and approach problem solving.

Understanding and enacting shared values are critical for promoting tolerant and peaceful communities. Democracy, citizenship and governance can be easily taught but it is when students have opportunities to rehearse civic responsibility, practice social skills and develop an awareness of other values and positions that notions of social cohesion are developed. Such experiences are reinforced when teachers model democracy and inclusion and promote citizenship through such activities as peer mediation, student leadership programs and service learning initiatives.

Values, beliefs and attitudes shape the way people live their lives. This works well when they are in the company of people who share similar understandings and experiences. The challenge is to manage situations where beliefs and values are not aligned. In a 21st Century multi-cultural and multi-faith Australia the management of difference and diversity is at the forefront of government social policy.

Evidence emerging from research, case studies and school reports indicate that values-based education in Australian schools is making a significant contribution to positive and more harmonious school environments.

For further information on this Australian values education initiative visit the Australian Department of Education by clicking here

The Philippines’ E.O. 570: Institutionalizing PE in Basic Education and Teacher Education

[i]Posted on behalf of Loreta Castro, Executive Director of The Center for Peace Education, The Philippines.[/i]

The Philippines’ E.O. 570: Institutionalizing Peace Education in Basic Education and Teacher Education

July 24, 2008 is a good day for us here in the Philippines. It was marked by the signing of the “Implementing Guidelines” of Executive Order 570 issued by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo last September 2006. The Executive Order (EO) mandated the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to institutionalize Peace Education in Basic Education and Teacher Education.

The formal signing of the implementation guidelines by the concerned cabinet ministers heralded the beginning of action on the ground. The Secretary of the Department of Education and the Commissioner of the CHED as well as the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process not only signed the document but also publicly expressed their commitment and concrete plans in 2008-2009 in order to give life to the guidelines. Some of the specific actions mentioned by the cabinet members were the issuance of memoranda to their constituencies to provide information and more concrete guidance, curriculum review and development, and capacity-building activities.

I was invited to witness the signing because I was the civil society representative in the Executive Committee that prepared the implementing guidelines and it was a joy for me to see that EO 570 is beginning to have the life and vibrancy that it deserves. I am aware that the signing ceremony featuring the public commitment of the concerned government agencies is just the beginning. The more difficult part is the challenge of implementation.

The Center for Peace Education, of which I am the Executive Director, has committed to collaborate with the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in ways that we can, especially with regards to this EO. I believe that only through such engagement and cooperation among civil society organizations, government and other stakeholders can we be more effective in pursuing goals that are for humanity’s common good.

We need more purposive focusing on the goals that count, and invest in these goals our renewed energy and commitment. I submit that building a culture of peace is among the essential goals for today and tomorrow. Human and ecological survival and well-being, now and in the future, depend on this. Therefore, it makes good sense for all to work together towards this vision.

Companion curriculum to INNOCENTS LOST by Jimmie Briggs available

The CRE Connection catalog includes a copy of a curriculum guide with five lessons designed to accompany a book written by Jimmie Briggs, a speaker at the International Youth and Conflict conference happening in Ohio as this post is being written. The book Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War calls attention to the growing involvement of children in armed conflict.

You can get a copy of the Curriculum Guide via the CRE Connection catalog.

Best Practices of Non-Violent Conflict Resolution in and out-of-school – Some examples

Back in 2001, UNESCO launched an initiative calling for a report on “best practices” in nonviolence in education. A wonderful report of examples from around the world was produced. You can find it online at this link.

Also produced as part of the project was a series of games that can be used in the classroom and in informal education settings to teach concepts of nonviolence and cooperation. These games are found online at this link.

International Youth and Conflict Conference underway

The 2nd International Summit on Conflict Resolution Education is underway in Cleveland Ohio. Highlights include these plenary sessions:

Keynote: The Wars Children Fight
Sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace
Jimmie Briggs, Goodwill Ambassador and UN Special Envoy for Children & Armed Conflict, Author of Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War.
David J. Smith, Senior Education Program Officer, United States Institute of Peace

Mini-Plenary: Child Soldiers Speak About their Experience
Sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace
George Elunai Latio (Sudan), Student, Bluffton University, Ohio
Madeleine (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Bukeni Tete Waruzi, Director and Founder, Ajedi-Ka/Projet Enfants Soldats

Mini-Plenary: Youth Civic Engagement for Democracy and Peace in Serbia
Sponsored by the European Centre for Conflict Prevention
Film: Bringing Down a Dictator
Ivan Marovic, Founding Member, Otpor, CANVAS, Belgrade, Serbia, participated in the making of the film
Tatjana Popovic, Project Coordinator, Nansen Dialogue Centre Serbia

Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue: Charting the Roads to Peace

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, established in 1999 and based out of Geneva Switzerland, provides a forum for conflicting parties to resolve their differences peacefully. In line with its mission to reduce human suffering in war by preventing and resolving armed conflicts, the HD Centre also encourages and promotes dialogue and debate on challenging issues.

Its aim, as a forum for dialogue, is to share its experience and learn from that of others by regularly hosting and organising events that bring together actors with a variety of expertise. Events include meetings, conferences, panel discussions, retreats, and publication launches with debates. In 2006, book launches, two Mediators’ Retreat, as well as briefings to diplomats have been organised by the HD Centre.

One very enlightening document is a report entitled Charting the Roads to Peace: Facts, figures and trends in conflict resolution produced by the Centre for one of their International Mediator Retreats. Good for a review of where things are headed…