Dr Helen Caldicott Lecture - Noted physician, anti-nuclear activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Helen Caldicott is visiting New Zealand from Australia, courtesy of the New Zealand Peace Foundation. For further details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please book online using the links below:
A celebration of Joan’s life will be held on Friday 19th August at 2:00pm, at Te Mahurehure Cultural Marae, 65 – 73 Premier Ave, Point Chevalier.
Christopher Le Breton on NZ's Peace Foundation taking Peace to all schools locally, then globally?
1 August 2016
This is not a protest-this is positive Peace Action by the People. For more information, contact Laurie Ross ph: 818 0696 or Michael King ph: 021 2148597
Organization (PEWO) in Karachi. Photo: Private.
Pakistan is facing tremendous challenges in the education sector, with 25 million children not attending schools at all. Official records show that this figure has remained mostly unchanged since 2005. There are also incidences of hate speech and references to violence in the school curriculum. The government of Pakistan is trying to remove those words and parts from school books.
Given that education itself is threatened by violent conflict in Pakistan, what role could children and schools play as drivers of peace?
We need to work on mindsets, as for more than two decades, our people have been in war and I believe that we need to bring basic education to every child. Peace education is the only solution to unlearn all violence, hate speech and extremism and instead teach children skills for how to be kind, caring and live well together.
Education is the only hope for Pakistan. The country has a history of suffering from violence, extremism and especially youth has been targeted. One way to help break the cycle of violence is to actively teach young people how to live together peacefully. Young people are especially at risk from conflict and extremist influences, but they also have great capacity to learn how to practice peace. The best way to teach them this is through peace education programs that integrate knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to prevent violence and resolve conflict peacefully with everyday lessons taught to children and youth in schools and communities.
What have been the major benefits that you’ve seen peace education bring to your region?
Pakistan has a young population, more than 60% of the country’s 175 million people are under 24 years of age. Young people, since they represent such a large share of our inhabitants, are an important factor for social change in our country. Hence, initiatives aimed at young people can potentially have great impact in our society.
Our recent experiences with the peace education programmes in schools show that there have been significant positive changes with less incidents of violence and bullying. The Peace Foundation supports schools in Pakistan to develop young peace leaders through teaching conflict resolution skills that help schools promote and maintain a “culture of peace”. For instance, both the Cool Schools and Leadership through Peer Mediators (LtPM) have been valuable additions to the peace education efforts we are implementing in Pakistani schools.
In Pakistan, peace education is especially important because we have seen an increase in the involvement of young people, both as victims and perpetrators, in conflict situations around the country. Also, the majority of the suicide bombings conducted over the years have been carried out by teenage boys, mostly school aged boys.If we can reach these children with peace education, we could create major changes in these violent contexts.
What is the outlook for peace education in Pakistan?
The educational situation here is on the verge of collapse. According to some reports, 23 million students are out of school and also find themselves without the financial capabilities to access education.
At the moment, the peace education initiatives are mainly on a grassroots level with a clear need to be nurtured and embraced in order to surge as a regional and national phenomenon. My organization’s goal is to convince policymakers that peace education is necessary on all levels: from local communities to a nation-wide school curriculum. Unfortunately, the Government of Pakistan isn’t allocating as much funds as we would have hoped for education, and peace education in particular. We rely heavily on non-profit organizations in order to pursue our peace education programmes in Pakistani schools, but the funds are not enough for us to extend this initiative to a national level.
You engaged in a literature project for children in your region, where students from Massey University in New Zealand sent books to Pakistan, how did this impact your community?
Education is an urgent need in Pakistan. Many people are struggling in poverty-stricken communities where they cannot access education. The books donated by students from Massey University and shipped to Pakistan were extraordinarily well-received by our communities here. It has provided children with a library that is free, a knowledge bank where they can engage in reading and acquire knowledge in many different subjects. Reading for peace is an integrally educational and peaceful initiative, the idea is to provide children with the tools they need - a wide range of books - so that they can broaden their horizons and acquire new perspectives.
People oftentimes donate money. However, this doesn’t always have a long lasting impact. On the other hand, this reading initiative is helpful in a way that many purely financial donations aren’t. These books will last for a long time, and they are already proving themselves to be a valuable asset for students in underprivileged areas that cannot afford buying books and for schools that don’t have the funds to create libraries.
By: Sandra Segall
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