Peace Education Inititiative
For the occasion of the Centenary of the World War I, UNESCO launched an education initiative for adolescents for the years 2014 to 2018.
The initiative informs children and youth about war and peace through the perception of heritage, in particular underwater cultural heritage. Participating institutions, schools, and authorities use the materials provided by UNESCO. The educational materials teach lessons learnt from history and help make students understand how precious cultural heritage sites are, using examples of submerged heritage. The activities organized connect between the present day world and the future lives of the young people involved.
The historic background at the heart of this education initiative, including the naval aspect of World War I and the resulting sea blockades, had a large influence on the life of everyday people. Nevertheless, this background is often overlooked and rarely reflected upon. However, extensive submerged heritage remains from that time. The ability for reflection upon this little known, underwater cultural heritage, and the history connected to it, provides an opportunity to facilitate an understanding of the necessity of peace and heritage preservation amongst adolescents. This approach allows participants to take the past into account, but it is also relevant to participants by taking root in the present in order to positively affect the future. Empathy with other nations and their situations is stimulated.
Central to the education initiative is UNESCO's new teacher manual "Heritage for Peace and Reconciliation: Safeguarding the Underwater Cultural Heritage of the First World War" >>
Since its foundation in 1945, UNESCO has been striving to build peace among others by the preservation of heritage. In line with this goal, the education project seeks to demonstrate the value of peace rather than focusing on the aggressive aspect of WWI. Therefore, the activities of the initiative help strengthen the appreciation and desire for peace among young people. The project also provides the occasion to encourage youth to understand other cultures and nations by reflecting on a common submerged heritage.
The initiative is open to all teaching institutions globally and is addressed to youth ages 12-18.
- Launch of the “Youth Safeguard Peace Initiative” on 28 June 2014.
- Activities can be chosen by the participating institutions and take place worldwide in schools and educational institutions, in particular on 21 September of the years 2014 to 2018, the date of the International Peace Day proclaimed by the United Nations. In general, activities should be linked to underwater cultural heritage, but also artist’s work or work focused on contemporary events may be part of the initiative.
- The activity “What would be your story?” encourages youths aged 12-18 to write articles, produce video-clips, and make photo installations or school exhibitions.
- Partner School Exchanges allow partner schools in the various participating countries to debate about the importance of peace, this will ideally involve addressing special case studies on underwater cultural heritage from WWI and discussing the individual fates of the persons involved.
A complementary “Dive for Peace Day”, also on 28 June 2014, invited professional, as well as leisure divers, to use this day in particular to visit underwater sites dating from World War I in a responsible manner. Their visit was documented by images, videos, and first-hand accounts and then made available on a special website, as well as in dive clubs worldwide.
The initiative is supported by dive clubs and dive institutions worldwide.
Related National Initiatives