Strengthening peace education in the Community of West African States
Peace education will be on the agenda for two weeks in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. UNESCO and partners organize two meetings to promote peace education in the class rooms.
One training workshop is focusing on a training manual on teaching peace education, citizenship and regional integration. The second meeting, a capacity-building workshop, is for curriculum planners and developers to see how to include the prevention of conflicts and natural disasters in education policies.
This week, 26-30 November 2012, a Training of Trainers workshop on the use of a reference manual on teaching peace education, citizenship and regional integration in ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.
The importance of this training is unquestionable, said the Representative of the Minister of Higher Education and Research of Côte d’Ivoire in his opening speech.
The manual is a cornerstone in the project on “Peace and Development” covering the 15 ECOWAS countries.
One of several training sessions
The first phase of the project focuses in particular on six countries affected by crisis or post-conflict situations in the region, namely Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo. It is funded by the African Development Bank and coordinated by UNESCO Dakar.
A similar training workshop already took place in Liberia. Two more workshops are planned for 17-21 December 2012 in Cape Verde for Portuguese-speaking countries and for 4-8 February 2013 in Sierra Leone for English-speaking countries.
Peace education in the curricula
Next week, 3-5 December 2012, a capacity-building workshop for curricula planners and developers will also take place in Abidjan on the topic of including conflicts and natural disasters in education policies.
This meeting is part of a series of training sessions organized by UNESCO’s Offices in Dakar and Yaoundé together with three UNESCO institutes (IICBA, IIEP, and IBE), UNESCO Headquarters, UNICEF and PLAN.
Curricula planners and developers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Togo will meet to:
- Analyse ECOWAS countries’ education plans and policies in the light of peace education, conflict prevention and natural disasters,
- Formulate relevant suggestions that are likely to improve policy documents and education strategies,
- Receive training on the planning tools developed by IIEP so as to integrate conflict and disaster risk reduction,
- Suggest a roadmap for reviewing policies and Training of Trainers curricula in targeted countries.
Lack of consideration for education
Despite the rich scientific works that UNESCO and other organizations have published, a quick analysis of national education policies and teacher training courses reveals that education is not sufficiently taken into consideration and integrated into strategies of peace promotion and preservation.
“This situation is partly due to the lack of qualifications among planners and officials in charge of curriculum development. Hence the necessity to equip them with the tools to integrate risk reduction in their own fields of action,” highlights Yao Ydo, Chief of Section of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development at UNESCO Dakar. “The meeting aims to take up this challenge,” adds Ydo.
Today’s world is marked by repeating economic crises and socio-political and military conflicts that thwart states’ efforts towards development, especially in poor countries.
About 2/3 of African countries have gone through or are in the middle of conflicts and education systems are counted among the main victims of this recurring unrest.
The Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2011 showed that the impact of such crises on formal and non-formal education systems is intensified by the fact that the teaching personnel and learners are badly or poorly equipped.
Documents to facilitate the works
Guidance Notes for education planners on the integration of conflict and disaster risk reduction into the education sector planning process were recently published by UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) with the support of UNICEF.
“These notes will fuel the reflection during the training sessions to come, as well as the reference manual on peace education that have been published as part of th ECOWAS project,” explains Pape Banga Guissé, Coordinator of this project.
The works will guide the countries in the implementation of national frameworks that would make education a powerful tool for strengthening national cohesion and peaceful coexistence.