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06.09.2004 Regional News

African University lecturers find ways to solve conflicts

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Accra, Sept. 6, GNA - University lecturers from 17 African countries on Monday began a two-week workshop to find ways of helping their governments to deal with conflicts which have become endemic on the Continent and to seek rational solutions to them.

They would also brainstorm on mainstreaming the teaching and dissemination of information on conflicts into their activities to help students and the world at large to understand it as well as turn it around for development.

Twenty-five participants are attending the workshop, which would also deal with conflict management.

The workshop under the theme: "Transforming Conflicts and Development Towards Sustainable Peace" was organised by the Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA), the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and University of Ghana, Legon. Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State for Tertiary Education, who opened the workshop, said it was important for academia to help find rational solutions to conflicts, which had become a drain on the resources of African countries.

She noted that development could only be sustained in an environment of peace and said academia had an important role to play to bring peace to Africa, Ms Ohene said rationalism should be a major factor in explaining conflicts and the methods by which they could be dealt to policy formulators and advisers.

She said society was to a large extent moved by irrationalism and tended to explain problems by putting blame on others. "Blaming others would never enable us to find solutions to our problems in a rational and sensible manner."

Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, Research Fellow of LECIA, said the academia had been involved in writing articles on conflicts but had not made it a mandate to train themselves in conflict mitigation and peace building.

He said the workshop would enhance their ability in mainstreaming conflict management into their curricula and to help demystify conflicts.

Dr Antwi-Danso called on academia and the media to help create awareness on the need to curb ethnicity that had contributed to conflicts and had made it difficult to sustain development. Professor Atsu Ayee, Dean of the Faculty of Social Studies, University of Ghana, said civil society organisations must endeavour to widen peace-building networks in view of the numerous conflicts in Africa.