10.11.2011 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Building peace in Guinea-Bissau through theater and media campaigns

Guinea-Bissau, the Portuguese-speaking West African country, is recovering from civil strife.

Enormous challenges remain in Guinea-Bissau to build peace and national reconciliation following civil war and political instability in the past decades.

“Peace is fragile and many people are still unstable, especially the young who were manipulated and used during the war,” says Yao Ydo, chief of PSD section in UNESCO’s regional office for Education in Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal.

“The aim of our new peace education project is to promote a culture of peace, citizenship, conflict resolution and reconciliation among youth and communities throughout the country.”

Ydo mentions several messages that the project aims to promote.

“First, there is no development without peace. Second, youth must be trained and technically and morally equipped to play a more constructive and active role in the development of the country; third, schools can be an important factor in building peace and new citizenship; and fourth, the media have a forceful role to play in conveying reconciliation,” he says.

Reach people through theater and media

The project will reach the people of Guinea-Bissau through sketches performed by theater groups and disseminated through radio and television. Messages will appear on billboards and national personalities will be mobilized to take part in the campaign.

UNESCO will also develop peace education modules to be used in training workshops for young people. A workshop involving all major partners will be organized before the end of the year to officially launch the project.

Adverts will soon appear in the local media to identify the best local theatre group to perform the sketches.

UNESCO already has much experience in using theater in reaching out to communities, Ydo points out. “The Organization has successfully used it to convey messages on different themes such as HIV and AIDS,” he says.

Fine example of multisectoral approach

UNESCO’s peace education project is part of the United Nations’ Peacebuilding Fund, a major funding initiative by several donors to assist Guinea-Bissau in building the cornerstone of lasting peace.

The project runs from 2011-2014 and has a budget of over 1 million US$. UNESCO has received $113.000 to carry out the peace education programme.

Several sectors in UNESCO will be involved in the implementation of the project:

  • The Culture Sector takes care of the cultural aspects, such as the use of theatre.
  • The Communication and Information Sector has experienced in mobilizing communities through the use of media, namely Community Media Centers.
  • The Social and Human Sciences are concerned with the question related to social mobilization, citizenship, human rights etc.
  • The Education Sector covers the aspects of education for peace.

“This is an excellent example of how UNESCO brings together its various competences to meet the needs of a country,” says Director of UNESCO Dakar, Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta.

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