Mr Emmanuel Bombande, Executive Secretary, West Africa Network for Peace Building, has said one way to meet the challenges of peace education is to build bridges of support among key participants like families, communities and social networks.
He said just as learning takes place in a broader social context and not exclusively in schools or classrooms, so did peace education rely on those partners to effect positive and lasting change.
Mr Bombande was speaking at the just-ended 60th Annual New Year School in Accra, on the topic: “Peace Education, National Integration and Development”.
He said the notion “think globally, act locally” was central to education for a culture of peace in that it linked theory with practice, international issues to individual efforts.
“As a peace educator, you need not work alone. Concerned citizens, educators and activists of all ages must work towards promoting and building peace through education.
“The family, the school and the community are the most suitable places where the individual not only acquires basic knowledge related to peace, virtues such as discipline, civility, compassion, tolerance and respect for others but also learns to act in a peaceful manner,” Mr Bombande said.
He said it was by dint of these learning processes that peace was nurtured in the heart and mind of the individual.
Mr Bombande said the tenets of peace behoved each and everyone to be more conscious of the need to thoroughly understand what is acquire, the aptitude to manage positive relations, and have a sense of social responsibility and ethical maturity.
He said one could only build peace by, first, living as a model of peace.
Mr Bombande said “It is important to observe that peace does not just happen. It is built when people take great care in their decision-making to plan for the long-term, anticipating potential problems, engaging in ongoing analysis of conflicts and the local context, and coordinating different actors and activities in all stages of conflict and at all levels of society”.
Dr Lynda Darkwa, of Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA), pointed out that peace education could no longer be limited to a particular discipline but needed a continuous dialogue to integrate peace education into curricula of the education system.
She said peace education was a continuous process and effective ways must therefore be identified to continue the education outside formal educational structure.
“We should begin to look within our traditions and cultures for relevant channels of communication through which peace education could be undertaken.”
Dr Darkwa stressed the need to discuss, debate and identify the issues around which we could integrate nationally, saying “it is wishful thinking to assume that we will wake up tomorrow and find a unified Ghana.”
“Our differences will be with us for sometime yet. But difference is not by itself bad and the strength in diversity can be harnessed for our national good. We should therefore identify what is important for all of us to rally around – during which period we will be first and foremost Ghanaians,” she said.
Dr Kwesi Aning, Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Department, Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC}, said in the discourse about national integration, peace education and development, there was a critical component that was usually overlooked.
That component, he said, was the audience or citizenry receiving the claims presented by government and whose responses provided the “popular” legitimising force that was so critical to the acceptance of such government actions and success of the national integration project.
This year's New Year School that was under the theme: “Lifelong Learning and Accelerated National Development”, has attracted over 500 participants.