Peace Education in Schools

To save our future generations we have to introduce peace education in the formal schooling system
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Commonly, peace is the absence of war, violence, exploitation, and injustice. This is the common idea that aims to counter a culture of war by promoting a culture of peace. Culture of peace will promote progress and development in society. Issues, conflicts, and disputes are born in the human race. Conflicts, issues, or disputes if any within the society must not affect our children. Be it Kashmir or any part of the world.

Historically, during the turmoil in Kashmir, students involved were at a receiving end. Their career, character, and future are traumatised in the deep-rooted conflict not knowing it. In my forties, I am witnessing those who picked up arms and stones, tactically employed, have become the soft targets of violence.

The culture of peace in our schools is a demanding idea which has never been implemented by our so-called leaders; and teachers were never held responsible for students’ actions, especially in government schools. The culture of violence has emerged in the minds of youth in such a way that peace has become a distant dream. Even now, if any person wants to preach peace he is being treated as a collaborator.

Broadly speaking, peace education in formal schools should ideally aim to produce caring, responsible, compassionate, critical, and civically engaged citizens who can advance a culture of peace. The aspiration of students should go high in moral and human values. In the culture of peace education, they will maintain a friendship with a healthy atmosphere in a healthy peaceful community. A culture of peace will equip students with the capacity to understand and resolve conflicts without recourse to violence and enable them to become responsible citizens who are open to differences and aspire to overcome exclusive ideologies and address social structures that perpetuate a culture of violence, including repressive educational structure.

The schooling system, as witnessed in Kashmir is widely criticised as being a site of violence – including direct, cultural, and structural violence. Formal schools should stress not only knowledge and skills, but also shape social and cultural values, norms, attitudes, and suppositions. Schools should build positive relationships and create a safe learning environment where children thrive.

Formal peace education will focus on anger management, emotional awareness, empathy, assertiveness, and self-worth. School is a holy space where a child gets impact, attraction, affection, and influence from teachers and colleagues. The main objective is to make a child worthwhile in nation-building in whatever manner he could be. All purposes of education lead to providing knowledge about good and bad. So schools are expected to produce scientists, doctors, engineers, and other social builders not terrorists, destructors, and hate mongers.

Schools can build healthy relationships and a peaceful school culture overall. There are many methods and ways in which a culture of peace can be created and maintained. A renowned peach researcher Prof. Toh made a holistic framework and presented that for dismantling the culture of war; educating for living with justice and compassion; educating for promoting human rights and responsibilities; educating for building cultural respect, reconciliation and solidarity; educating for living in harmony with the earth and educating for cultivating inner peace will provide student guidance to be ethnically updated.

Practically, the culture of peace or culture of violence depends on the teacher, because the teacher is the architect of a nation. According to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, “the quality of a nation depends upon the quality of its citizens, the quality of its citizens depends upon the quality of their education, and the quality of their education depends on the quality of teachers”. The success of a teacher depends upon the effective teaching-learning process.

Teachers can control the students by changing their behaviour; by teaching a positive approach to tolerance. Teachers can control violence erupting from schools. Teachers are social agents and not neutrals. They are parents as well as teachers who can approach the parents of the students and can build/save the future of the child. The concept of justice, cooperation, equality, fraternity, trust, responsibility, reconciliation, mutual respect, solidarity, compassion, understanding, interconnectedness, harmony, dignity, non-violence, sustainability, and of course, hope and love is only possible in the teaching-learning classroom.

Peace education is not a new concept, but a new response to the violent world realities. It has been around at the most since the end of World War II and is still in process of development. Schools can teach humanity how to live in peace, how to resolve problems in a friendly manner, and how to negotiate solutions that benefit all the parties. Formal peace education can provide the necessary skills to help to save children from violence, understand the consequence and bad impact of violence, and create a peaceful world. Gandhi Ji once said, “If we are to reach real peace in this world we shall have to begin with the children.” Therefore there is a need to nurture peace in the hearts of children.

There is also an increased radicalisation among youth in J&K and polarisation within the regions in the education system in J&K over two decades. Keeping in view these developments, education for peace, communal harmony, and co-existence is the need of the hour in J&K.

Unfortunately, no education system exists in J&K that teaches the words of peace and safety to children. The involvement of students in violence was not taken seriously by the government.

Firstly, we must equip teachers who are not well trained in imparting peace education; the government needs to provide those specialised skills and pieces of training to make children aware of peace and peace education, which can further help in eliminating the seeds of violence from the society. A major reason for the lack of peace education is that there has been a lack of motivation and action among teachers and planners in Jammu and Kashmir.

Various peace organisations and individuals within Kashmir’s society forwarded proposals, and roadmaps to introduce the concept of peace education and have conducted various workshops in Kashmir, but no major initiative has been taken for introducing peace education in J&K.

Today, our children face bullying in their schools. There are various approaches and teaching methodologies to prevent and resolve this issue. One of them is peace education. To save our future generations we have to introduce peace education in the formal schooling system.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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