Peace and conflict scholars have called for all countries to promote peace education in school curriculum, saying it will go a long way in ensuring a conflict-free world.
The experts were speaking during the first day of a peace education conference organised by Aegis Trust at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi, yesterday.
The three-day conference, running under the theme, “Building Resilience through Peace Education: Concepts, Methods and Impact,” brought together about 100 global experts in conflict resolution to discuss the role of peace education in preventing conflict and mass atrocity.
Dr James Smith, chief executive of Aegis Trust, said the conference would help policy-makers and Rwandans in general to build lasting peace in their communities by employing innovative education and community outreach approaches.
“We need to educate a global generation of champions of humanity. We need young people who have the critical thinking, empathy and personal responsibility to reject violence and division in their communities,” said Smith.
“At this meeting of the best minds in peace education, we will share our experiences and learn from others. For our work in Rwanda, this an opportunity to improve how millions of students gain the knowledge and tools to build peace at home, at school and in their communities.”
Rwanda incorporated peace education in its new competency-based national school curricula that was rolled out at the beginning of last year.
Albert Nzamukwereka, governance advisor at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), said the gathering of experts would give a platform to peace building experts to share and improve existing peace education content, methodology and tools, consequently developing curriculum needed for peace building.
“Peace education requires evidence-based research to develop improved education content and this conference serves that purpose well. Coming together helps experts know different peace and conflict issues such as Genocide denial and ideology,” Nzamukwereka said.
“There are a couple of conflicts, specifically in the Commonwealth countries, and most of those conflicts are linked to poverty and bad governance. That’s why we are deploying resources to tackle poverty and boost economic recovery.”
Isaac Munyakazi, the state minister for primary and secondary education, said the meeting of experts will contribute to finding the best methodologies and ways to evaluate the impact of peace education in Rwanda.
“Our society has to be cohesive. This is why we supported peace education and have it integrated into the school curriculum,” he said.
The conference will, among others, recommend the best ways of monitoring and evaluating the impact of peace education on individual and social change as well as explore areas for future global collaboration in building lasting peace.
Smith said the outcomes of the conference will support Aegis Trust’s new programme, “Education for Sustainable Peace in Rwanda,” which gives teachers the training and resources they need to teach peace and values across the new national curriculum.
The initiative is funded by the UK, Swedish and Belgian governments with support from the Government of Rwanda.
The New Times understands that, over the last few years, the programme has provided more than 60,000 leaders, educators and young people across Rwanda with the tools to break cycles of violence and restore trust in their communities.
Mikael Boström, of the Swedish embassy, said one of the major achievements of this work has been the inclusion of ‘peace and values’ as a cross-cutting subject in Rwanda’s new national school curriculum.
Aegis Trust is a non-profit organisation that works to prevent genocide and mass atrocities worldwide and has supported Rwandans build lasting peace through education programmes that teach about history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and share stories that promote social cohesion.