The Practice of Peacemaking in Early Childhood (USA)
(Stephanie Van Hook - Metta Center for Nonviolence) A friend or spouse turns to you and says something unkind. How do you respond? Do you lash out with hurt and anger? Resentment? Or do you take a breath; perhaps even walk away for a moment, and return later to talk it out, all while trying to understand yourself and the other person better? Do you recommit yourself to the bond you and your friend have formed in the spirit of the higher goals toward which you are working? Now ask yourself, how would you like your child to respond in a similar situation? Peacemaking is a life skill. Some of us are lucky to receive such training in our early adulthood, but I know of a classroom where children as young as three years old practice resolving their conflicts nonviolently. Doing so, they grow daily in empathy and compassion.
UN Secretary-General congratulates Peru's National Plan on Human Rights Education (Peru)
(Andina) The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, congratulated Peru’s National Plan of Human Rights Education, which has been launched today. Ban also expressed his support to President Humala's government initiative. "I congratulate Peru for placing human rights in the center of its educational process; everybody has the right to [access] education in human rights just like everybody has the same human rights," he expressed. However, Ban adverted that those who need more protection are the ones who know the least about the instruments available to protect human rights. He also guaranteed his personal commitment to the Peruvian government’s effort. Human rights are one the UN’s “basic columns” next to peace and development, he explained. “Peace cannot be sustained without development, and development cannot be sustained without peace. It is not either possible without respect to human rights,” he added.
Malala for peace, education: Text of Nobel speech by Malala Yousafzai (Norway)
"Education is one of the blessings of life—and one of its necessities. That has been my experience during the 17 years of my life. In my paradise home, Swat, I always loved learning and discovering new things. I remember when my friends and I would decorate our hands with henna on special occasions. And instead of drawing flowers and patterns we would paint our hands with mathematical formulas and equations. We had a thirst for education, we had a thirst for education because our future was right there in that classroom. We would sit and learn and read together. We loved to wear neat and tidy school uniforms and we would sit there with big dreams in our eyes. We wanted to make our parents proud and prove that we could also excel in our studies and achieve those goals, which some people think only boys can. But things did not remain the same. When I was in Swat, which was a place of tourism and beauty, suddenly changed into a place of terrorism. I was just ten that more than 400 schools were destroyed. Women were flogged. People were killed. And our beautiful dreams turned into nightmares. Education went from being a right to being a crime."
World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior (USA)
(World Bank) Real people are rarely as coherent, forward-looking, strategic or selfish as typically assumed in standard economic models—they sometimes do not pursue their own interests, and can be unexpectedly generous. Such dynamics should be factored more carefully into development policies, a point made in the "World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior." The newly launched report argues that development policies based on new insights into how people actually think and make decisions will help governments and civil society more readily tackle such challenges as increasing productivity, breaking the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next, and acting on climate change. Drawing from a wealth of research that suggests ways of diagnosing and solving the psychological and social constraints to development, the WDR identifies new policy tools that complement standard economic instruments.
For People who Have Experienced Racism in Schools, Standardized Testing Can Seem like A Solution. But It's Not. (USA)
(Alternet.org) Our society is currently spending untold sums to create more tests, more data systems, more test preparation materials, ad nauseam. And then they have the audacity to tell us that these are antiracist measures! Of course, all this focus on testing is a huge market opportunity for the private companies that provide all these services and materials. What is never under serious consideration is the idea that we could take all those same millions of dollars and create for all children the kind of cozy, relaxed, child-centered teaching and learning conditions that wealthy kids already enjoy... Our society is currently spending untold sums to create more tests, more data systems, more test preparation materials, ad nauseam. And then they have the audacity to tell us that these are antiracist measures! Of course, all this focus on testing is a huge market opportunity for the private companies that provide all these services and materials. What is never under serious consideration is the idea that we could take all those same millions of dollars and create for all children the kind of cozy, relaxed, child-centered teaching and learning conditions that wealthy kids already enjoy.
Armed groups recruit 10,000 child soldiers in Central African Republic: NGO
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) Up to 10,000 children have been recruited by armed groups during the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) despite a U.N.-backed peacekeeping presence, the number rising sharply in the past two years, Save the Children said. Some children were abducted or forced to join such groups, while others signed up for food, clothing, money and protection, the international children's charity said in a news release. Children have borne the brunt of the violence - 80 percent of those who have had to flee their homes are women and children. Two out of 5 children in CAR lack vital humanitarian aid, according to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF).
‘Infidels are our enemy’: Afghan fighters cherish old American schoolbooks (Afghanistan)
(Aljazeera America) Millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars helped fan religious conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s, according to a major new study, and even money spent since 9/11 may have stoked tensions. The conventional wisdom that building schools in a conflict zone helps promote peace and stability is called into question by New York University professor Dana Burde, whose findings make sobering reading for donors as reconstruction of Afghanistan enters a crucial period. “Aid education may not always have the influence that we think,” she said. “Although there are dramatic and positive results of current support to education in Afghanistan today, this was not always the case.” Promoting violence — in the form of jihad against the Soviet invaders and their local proxies — was the goal of the U.S.-funded education effort in the 1980s and early ’90s. Textbooks such as “The Alphabet of Jihad Literacy,” funded by the U.S. and published by the University of Nebraska at Omaha, came out at a time when the CIA was channeling hundreds of millions of dollars to mujahedeen fighters to resist the Soviet occupation. USAID funded textbooks for distribution at refugee camps in Pakistan, with content written by mujahedeen groups with the support of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the CIA. Burde said the rationale of this indoctrination in the ideas of warfare as religious duty rested on the assumption of the “importance of starting early.” While the U.S. program ended with the collapse of Afghanistan’s communist government, its textbooks have spawned dozens of copies and revised editions, she said. She managed to find several old copies of the Pashto-language books and a 2011 edition on sale in the Pakistani city of Peshawar as recently as last year. The Taliban, she said, continues to recommend these books for children.
Advocates aim to save Baltimore children from impact of violence (USA)
(Baltimore Sun) The first time she witnessed a student's major tantrum — a 2-year-old hurling a toy stove filled with plastic pots and pans — Shanikia Johnson had just started as a teacher at Little Flowers Child Development Center in West Baltimore. She knew toddlers acted out. But the rage-filled reaction, triggered when Johnson wouldn't allow the boy to play with a toy, stunned the 22-year-old teacher. Then, time and time again, she saw other children throwing classroom furniture. Bookcases, chairs, tables — all were flung around the room. Some students bit classmates, leaving teeth marks on hands and cheeks; a few threatened to hurt staff members. Other children, dubbed “runners,” darted out of the building and down barren city blocks, with frantic teachers on their heels. The encounters exhausted Johnson and other teachers, who began to see the children as troublemakers. But the day care center's owner, Crystal Hardy-Flowers, urged the staff to be patient with the children, who often were like any other preschoolers — dancing to music, playing tea party and clamoring for space on a teacher's lap. The former social worker understood something that her teachers did not. The kids were growing up in Upton/Druid Heights, where backyard police chases are common and sirens wake up kids like unwelcome alarm clocks at night. Almost every day, in some way, the kids were exposed to violence. “It's not just bad behavior. It is not just defiance,” Hardy-Flowers said. “No, it is deeper than that. People just don't pick up chairs and throw them at you. Children don't just run out of the building.”
Reflections from Rwanda: Casting the light of peace over the shadow of hate (Rwanda)
(University of Manitoba) Blood-stained children’s clothing hangs over church pews, little shoes sit abandoned, rows of human skulls show signs of trauma—the horror of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda lives on two decades later. Education professor Jerome Cranston could picture the atrocities of the past while surveying a makeshift church memorial where thousands of Tutsis—many of them children—were herded and killed. The memorials provide a graphic reminder of one of the worst killing campaigns in history. “One of the phrases [Rwandans] use is ‘We need to never forget so it never happens anywhere else in the world’,” Cranston says. “They are doing this for Rwandans, but they hope they are doing this for the rest of the world.” In spring, Cranston travelled to the East African country as it marked the genocide’s 20th anniversary. In just 100 days, ethnic Hutu extremists killed roughly 800,000 people, most of them from the minority Tutsi community. Animosity between the two groups had brewed for years but reached a tipping point when the plane of then-Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down, killing everyone on board. For eight intense days, Cranston met with members of the newly formed Rwanda Genocide Teachers Association—a group of 60 Tutsis who survived the atrocities as teenagers and who are now teaching peace education to the next generation.
Bangladesh's resolution on ‘Culture of Peace’ adopted in UN (USA)
(Dhaka Tribune) The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution titled "Culture of Peace" proposed by Bangladesh. Along with Bangladesh, as many as 97 countries were cosponsors of the resolution, the message said, adding 25 countries spoke on it. In an instant reaction after passage of the resolution, Bangladesh's Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr AK Abdul Momen said the main slogan of the resolution was "Peace will come if intolerance and hatred of the people are reduced. "Many European countries for the first time cosponsored the resolution," Dr Momen said.
United Nations General Assembly adopts Pakistan-sponsored resolution promoting tolerance (USA)
(The Nation) Reaffirming the need to build and promote a culture of peace in a world where hatred was adding new dimensions to old conflicts, the General Assembly has adopted without a vote a resolution, sponsored by Pakistan and the Philippines, that stressed tolerance and dialogue. The 34-page text reaffirmed the solemn commitment of all States to fulfill their obligations to promote universal respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Also, under the terms of the text, the 193-member Assembly encouraged member States to consider, as and where appropriate, initiatives that identify areas for practical action in all sectors and levels of society for the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.
Soccer Salam to aid Iraqis displaced by Islamic State (Iraq)
(Omaha.com) Four charities, each founded by veterans of Desert Storm and the Iraq War, are collecting items for Iraqi families displaced by the Islamic State. A focus on soccer balls for children has led to the effort being called “Soccer Salam” coalition. Rick Burns heads the Karadah Project International. Burns, of Elk Horn, said the project was inspired by his experiences when he served in the Army Reserves in Iraq. “I felt I had something to offer after my military career, that I had developed relationships that could do something,” he said. In 2008, Burns worked to establish a Sister Cities International Friendship Partnership between Council Bluffs and the Karadah district council of Baghdad. In 2010, he founded the Karadah Project International, which focuses on sustainable projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Education for Peace in Iraq Center, the Iraqi Children Foundation, and Goals and Dreams along with the Karadah Project International are also led by U.S. Veterans.
The MAPP/OAS will Accompany the Peace Process in Colombia for Three more Years
(SKNVibes) The Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP) of the Organization of American States (OAS), which has performed its work for more than a decade, will continue to support the process in the South American country at least until 2018, according to the agreement signed between the Colombian government and the multilateral institution. Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OAS, Ambassador Andrés González, highlighted some of the key topics included in the agreement, including the monitoring of the ceasefire and hostilities, demobilization and disarmament, accompaniment in the prevention of child recruitment, restitution of land, reparation to victims and "support for state actions regarding education for peace and the implementation of agreements reached by the national government."
Nobel Laureate Máiread Maguire Calls for a Theology of Nonkilling (Italy)
December 2014. Center for Global Non-Killing Honorary Sponsor Máiread Maguire delivered the following Address at the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, Italy, on December 12-14, 2014. In her address Máiread calls calls Upon Pope Francis to Replace Just War Theory with Theology of Peace, Nonkilling and Nonviolence.
Promoting Human Rights in the World's Most Unstable Region (Jordan)
(Op-ed by Caroline Pontefract, Director of the UNESCO-UNRWA Education Program, based in Amman, Jordan.) Human Rights Day has a unique significance for over half a million children educated daily in hundreds of United Nations schools across the Middle East. It is a moment of hope and potentially of despair, when many of our students and more than 20,000 education staff will look at the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and wonder why so many of them are denied to themselves and those they teach. We educate students living under blockade in war-ravaged Gaza, under occupation in the West Bank, in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon and amid civil war in Syria. There are many challenges to ensuring these children receive the best education they can, but through dedication and a school environment that promotes their well-being and helps realize their full potential, they can succeed. Today is also a day when we join together and renew our commitment to work for the universal respect of human rights. It is a day on which we advocate for our own rights to be respected and pledge not to violate the rights of others.
Georgia Teacher Fired for Protesting Michael Brown Decision (USA)
(Alternet.org) Georgia's teachers have no collective bargaining rights. This means they do not have unions with teeth to defend them with, for example, tenure protections that guarantee their right to exercise free speech. A case in East Point, Georgia shows just how important that is. Maryam Shakir, a 21-year old teacher at Paul West Middle School, planned to join a walkout on Monday, December 1st, protesting the lack of indictment in the police killing of Michael Brown. She made sure she had a substitute to cover her classes, not wanting to leave her students in the lurch. As a result, she was threatened with a cut in pay if she went through with the protest. She decided to do so anyway. As a result, she was let go. "In no way do I consider myself having walked out on my students," Shakir said. "I was walking out for them."
Graduates of elite Jerusalem high school call for draft refusal (Israel)
Signatory of letter from dozens of Israel Arts and Sciences Academy alumni: 'Gaza war was straw that broke the camel's back.' Dozens of graduates of Jerusalem's prestigious Israel Arts and Sciences Academy published a letter on Sunday calling on Israelis to refuse to serve in the IDF.
A new Sunday School curriculum seeks to bridge the gap between veterans and peace churches (USA)
How do churches, especially peace churches, relate to veterans? Are they welcoming? Do veterans feel like they do not fit? Is there an unspoken tension between the veterans and church leaders? It is an issue the Mennonite church has struggled with and one that several Mennonites hope to address with a new Sunday school curriculum developed by the Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church USA and the Mennonite Mission Network. “Returning Veterans, Returning Hope: Seeking Peace Together” is a six-week series designed to assist congregations to think theologically and practically about war's trauma, healing from trauma and Jesus' way of peace and open a dialogue between pacifists and veterans. We’ve not done a good job connecting with veterans and the pain that they carry,” said Titus Peachey, peace education coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee U.S. and one of three co-authors of the series.
Pope Francis Tells World to Give Peace a Chance
In his New Year’s Day greeting to the tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis called for 2015 to be a “year of peace” and expressed his hope that “there may never again be wars. No more wars!” he said. “Wars make us slaves, always!” Francis said, and this is “a message that affects everyone.” The Pontiff also called for “peace education” and again insisted that “at the root of peace, there is always prayer.”
Countering extremism through the classroom (Pakistan)
Over the last few decades, Pakistan has experienced many crises, and most of these have been associated with a rise in extremism and militancy. A culture of violence has become pervasive, to the extent that it undermines law and order, social cohesion and the government’s authority. The moderate silent majority is witnessing a transformation of society from a tolerant one to one that is intolerant and extremist in its thinking and worldview. The sorry fact is that schools are not immune from this spread of extremism either. Today, we can see the disorder of the state surfacing in our schools in many ways and what is a more worrying thing is that the skills needed to address these crises are lacking. The root causes of extremism are many and as a nation we have never tried to address any of them. The foremost among them is education and here it should be evident to all of us that we have never tried to address the issue of extremism in our school curriculum. Of course, there are ways, and one of these is to include ‘peace education’.