200 seeds of peace for Chiapas

35 ch’oles and tzeltal teachers graduated from the Culture of Peace and Interculturality Certification Programme

  • UNESCO closed the educational component of the Joint Programme for a Culture of Peace in Chiapas with the graduation ceremony of the Culture of Peace and Interculturality Certification Programme and the presentation of the Education for Peace Toolbox.

On April 27, 2013, the ancestral Mayan pyramids of Toniná, in Ocosingo (Chiapas), were witness to the presentation of a new educational material: the Education for Peace Toolbox, 200 units of which were distributed among teachers from the Chiapas regions of Tila, Salto de Agua and Ocosingo, as well as a graduation ceremony for 35 ch’oles and tzeltal teachers from the Culture of Peace and Interculturality Certification Programme.

Both acts took place within the framework of the “Together in the construction of a Culture of Peace” event, organised by UNESCO and the Secretary of Education of the State of Chiapas, and they both marked the culmination of projects implemented with the objective of instilling values to encourage peaceful coexistence and provide educational tools to the teaching community in order to promote a culture of peace.

The ceremony was led by Javier López, general director of the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (INALI); Sylvia Schmelkes, sociologist from Universidad Iberoamericana; Magda Jan, Advisor to the Secretariat of Education of Chiapas; Luz María Chapela, from the Cuenta con Nosotros, Cuentos y Más A.C. organisation;  María de Lourdes Girón, Assistant Director of Indigenous Teacher Training of SEP; Mauricio Yáñez, who attended the event in representation of the National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, CONALMEX, and Ricardo Guerrero, representing UNESCO.

The event started off with the graduation of 35 ch’oles y tzeltal teachers who underwent the Culture of Peace and Interculturality Certification Programme, given in conjunction with UNESCO and Universidad Iberoamericana. This certification programme has helped strengthen their competencies through the formulation of solid educational proposals that adapt to the local contexts and have already had a positive effect on the indigenous educational system in the State of Chiapas.

All members of the presidium praised the value of the toolbox and the certification programme as ways to foster a culture of peace, and they congratulated the ch’oles and tzeltal teachers who participated in these projects for their dedication.

“To talk about an intercultural education is to talk about education on values with a great degree of human sensitivity”, explained the general director of INALI in reference to the certification programme. “There will always be conflicts, the problem is how we solve them; that is our challenge”, he added.

At the same time, Ricardo Guerrero reminded the audience of UNESCO’s commitment to promoting “a true culture of peace” and, in this sense, he highlighted the importance of promoting initiatives aimed at conflict resolution “through integration and consensual agreements”.

This was followed by the presentation of the new Education for Peace Toolbox, which consists of a series of educational-recreational materials that favour introspective reflection, a better knowledge of others and the environment, collaborative study, the use of the mother tongue and the identification of resources, knowledge, talents and skills in local communities.

These materials include several books, stories and card games that contain instructions for moderating debates and didactic forms that can help teachers organise fun activities with their students, all with purpose of instilling in young people values of peace and building their conflict resolution skills through dialogue and respect.

Schmelkes, who was recently named a member of the Steering Committee of the National Institute for Educational Assessment (INEE), stressed that each of the toolboxes is “a seed” of the culture of peace and encouraged teachers to cultivate them through their use in the classroom. 

The event included different training demonstrations and workshops for teachers and young people, as well as ‘Tianguis: educando por la Paz’, a space dedicated to the presentation of educational proposals generated by the teachers through the Certification Programme.

Attendants were also able to hear several rap music compositions produced by a group of young communicators from Ocosingo, who also prepared a graffiti display with the Toniná pyramids as the backdrop.

These activities and materials are framed within the Joint Programme for a Culture of Peace, which the United Nations has implemented in the State of Chiapas since 2009, and whose educational component coordinated by UNESCO has concluded with this event.

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