Peace programs in education institutions are desperately needed if conflicts in society and schools are to be drastically reduced or eliminated.
The success or failure of the peace programs can seriously impinge on national, regional and global peace.
Schools, as the basic learning centers for the young and adults alike shouldn’t squander the chance to impact on societal peace building processes.
Many education institutions world wide are often embroiled in conflicts that emanate from both administrative and student malpractices.
As a result, multi-million worth of property has gone to ashes following student strikes vandalisms.
Parents and guardians have had to count thousands of losses in payments of fines for replacement of property destroyed by students.
Lives have been lost in ghastly student and police encounters in the process of quelling of strikes.
Around mid this year, a student of Makerere University was shot dead by a university guard when student guild campaigns went wild.
The cost of conflict in education institutions is immeasurable. Diverse approaches are needed in an effort to create peaceable schools.
Peace programs in schools should create appropriate conflict resolution approaches that can be adopted by each member of the school community, from the crossing guard to the principal.
A climate that challenges youth and adults to believe and act on the conviction that creating a diverse, nonviolent society is a realistic goal is paramount.
One of the programs I suggest be established in schools is peer counseling.
Specially trained peer counselors assist their peers in resolving conflicts with the goal of reducing the use of traditional disciplinary measures like suspension, detention and expulsion and increasing the use of effective problem solving techniques.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has been at the forefront of peace education for many years.
Its primary purpose is to promote the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavior changes that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflicts and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to crate the conditions conducive to peace.
Schools that adhere to this purpose are supposed to adhere to the following tenets;
1. Demonstrate principles of equality and non-discrimination in administrative policies and practices
2. Develop a climate within the school or other learning environments that models peaceful and rights respected behavior in the relationships between all members of the school community
3. Handle conflicts between children or between children and adults in a non-violent manner that respects the rights and dignity of all involved
4. Use learning and teaching methods that promote participation, co-operation problem solving and respect for differences.
Peaceable schools mean a peaceful future society that handles conflict in a non-violent manner that is consistent and responsive to individual and societal needs.
Schools should engage learners in programs that build their problem solving skills, enable them to acknowledge and celebrate cultural diversities and be tolerant and sensitive to unique individualities.
The author is the Director Of Studies at Nu Vision High School, Kabuga.