Category Archives: Education

Teaching Peace in Schools

Teaching Peace in Schools

As highlighted by our introductory article on the state of education in Africa, the continent continues to suffer from immense challenges in education. Though literacy is increasing, there are huge gaps in terms of the quality of education received, between primary, secondary and tertiary education. These gaps are further disturbing when looking also at the gender imbalance in attaining education throughout. A lot has been said, and most attention focused on ways in which one can bridge these gaps. Not wanting to add to the debate, I’d rather focus attention here on the social aspects of education which are often forgotten in these conversations specifically as they pertain to peace education.

Africa has been ravaged by many conflicts in the last decade, and even those countries ‘safe’ from conflict within their borders are greatly affected by those happening in their regions. Most responses to these conflicts  are focused on ending violence, involving all ‘adult’ parties in peace negotiations, and putting an ‘end’ to the conflict so-to-speak. Addressing the role of children and young people in the conflict, the focus is oftentimes on re-building schools, and re-integrating child soldiers into their communities and providing a sense of stability to those most affected by the conflict. These efforts are extremely necessary and go a long way towards healing wounds; however I believe they can be further enhanced by developing a culture of peace among this fragile group. According to the United Nations, “a culture of peace is an integral approach to preventing violence and violent conflicts, and an alternative to the culture of war and violence based on education for peace, the promotion of sustainable economic and social development, respect for human rights, equality between women and men, democratic participation, tolerance, the free flow of information and disarmament.” I like to think of it in much simpler terms, as infusing unity and tolerance into daily practices.

One of the ways to infuse this culture into any society would be to involve children and teenagers in peace education in schools. Peace education is very broad, and can be understood in a myriad of ways. For the purposes of this article, peace education involves imparting learners with knowledge on the skills, values and behavior that promotes a culture of peace, and an end to violence and injustice. Addressing those underlying factors that could cause conflict in the first place could go a long way to improving conflict prevention, mediation and post-conflict reconstruction.

I can already imagine teachers reading this and shaking their heads at the additional workload required to develop peace modules and curricula and adapt these for schools. Bearing in mind challenges already faced in education, as highlighted above, teaching peace at schools could operate differently from standard subjects. My proposition is to use Peace Clubs, as a medium of education to develop a culture of peace among children and teenagers at schools. These clubs would be a network of children from various schools, who get together after classes to play games, debate, watch films, listen to music, and have conversations on peace and conflict issues in their country, region and beyond.

The actual content used for these various activities should be carefully selected as conveying values and ideals that speak to the value of nurturing peace, and working together towards resolving any existing or future societal tensions. A number of NGOs working in the field of peace and security would be more than interested in partnering with schools to not only provide the content, but also implement the various activities in support of undertaking this peace education. Going one step further, using these clubs as peace caravans could go a long way towards giving young people ownership of the process. The caravans would ideally go from school to school and those young leaders from the various clubs would ‘teach’ others about the value of peace, how they as young people can act as mediators in their schools and homes, and their key role in supporting the re-habilitation of child soldiers in communities affected by conflict.

In order to transform our societies, we need to change the way in which we think about each other, about ourselves, and about our responsibilities in situations of conflict. If we start early, and involve the future generation in these efforts, we have a greater chance to nurture peace within our societies.

Teaching the dream curriculum in nightmare conditions

Teaching the dream curriculum in nightmare conditions

Tweet One of the enduring memories I have of my life in high school is of my then young brilliant Grade 10 History teacher holding the textbook warning us (paraphrased): “I will teach you this, but just remember that most of it is not history, it is lies”. At that moment I recognised the contestedContinue Reading

I, too, am human: South African reflections on race, “I, too, am Harvard” and other cries when being black is not enough in higher education

I, too, am human: South African reflections on race, “I, too, am Harvard” and other cries when being black is not enough in higher education

Tweet By: Gcobani Qambela* and Thoko Sipungu** “… Indeed, when you are a marginalised individual who graduates from a PWI [Predominantly White Institution], resilience is arguably what you actually majored in.” – Aaron Talley. In today’s society, most people would undeniably agree that higher education places one at a peculiar vintage point with regard toContinue Reading

Alternative Approach to Global Ranking Tournament: Viewing South African Higher Education through a Service Lens

Alternative Approach to Global Ranking Tournament: Viewing South African Higher Education through a Service Lens

Tweet Pope Francis recently made a prophetic call  that the church be an inclusive “home for all” and not a “small chapel” for a select few[1]. Universities ought to be inclusive, a place of empowerment for all and reduce significant knowledge gaps through meaningful engagement and social transformation. Hence, increasing opportunities for empowerment and civicContinue Reading

Forced to grow[i]: Addressing shame and vulnerability in South African schools

Forced to grow[i]: Addressing shame and vulnerability in South African schools

Tweet In her pioneering coming of age book, Nervous Conditions (1988)[ii], Tsitsi Dangarembga takes us into the lives of two young women, Tambu and Nyasha, growing up in the 1960’s and early 1970’S in postcolonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Tambu spent her early formative years on her family’s farm in Rhodesia, while Nyasha spent hers inContinue Reading

Equipping the black child for a brighter future: What underprivileged black school children should be taught at school

Equipping the black child for a brighter future: What underprivileged black school children should be taught at school

Tweet Education in South Africa is always a contentious issue, one which everyone seems to have an opinion about. Since the advent of democracy, and for a long time after, many people have shared their opinions about the state of education in South Africa. These range from praise for the strides that have been undertakenContinue Reading

Education for all? Stepping forward and paying it back

Tweet We all have an opinion about education. And we have all experienced the consequences of our education. Whether or not research confirms it, we know that the level of education one has access to often determines the opportunities available to them in life. Unless one is in a “first world” country, we know thatContinue Reading

My Mother and conversations about education

My Mother and conversations about education

Tweet I remember my mother being on the cover of a USAID calendar used for an education for girls awareness campaign. It hangs somewhere in our house and is a constant reminder to follow in her footsteps and her example to us and the community we come from, which has some of the lowest ratesContinue Reading

Education: The Debate Must Continue …

Education: The Debate Must Continue …

Tweet By: Athambile Masola* There’s a youtube video that’s been causing a stir. This video has the title I will not let an exam decide my fate. It’s a spoken word piece where the artist does a great job at trying to untangle the question of the purpose of education. I showed the video toContinue Reading

(Dis)empowering knowledge and dismantling higher education elitism: the rising global cost of higher education and the implications for (poor) students

(Dis)empowering knowledge and dismantling higher education elitism: the rising global cost of higher education and the implications for (poor) students

Tweet By Gcobani Qambela*, Bose Maposa**, and Mathe Maema***  Institutions of higher learning have always been at the centre of development practice, and through higher education many people from all walks of life have been able to achieve class mobility. Harvard University Professor, Calestous Juma in 2008 noted that “economic growth is the transformation ofContinue Reading