The importance of Peace Education in ending violence and conflict (Armenia)

Gohar Markosyan
NGO ”Women for Development

Peace-EducationArmenia has been struggling with peace since the 1990’s starting with the Karabakh conflict. Today, not only in Armenia, but also in the entire Caucasus region, the issue of peace and stability largely depends on the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The conflict, which has lasted for more than 25 years, has not been resolved yet, despite all the efforts made by experienced diplomats from all over the globe.

Nowadays as an NGO, and, moreover as a women’s organization, we are challenged by the issues of peace building both in our country and the region. Without peace, without a peace building environment, without peaceful and non-violent resolution of conflicts, sustainable development of separate individuals, nations and the State is impossible.

The investment of “Women for Development” (WFD) NGO in this area is very practical and measurable. We are working in several directions. However, the first priority for us is the integration of Peace and Conflict Resolution Education into school curriculum. With this goal in mind, WFD NGO is implementing “Peace and Conflict Resolution Education in Armenian Schools” project.

However, the first priority for us is the integration of Peace and Conflict Resolution Education into school curriculum. With this goal in mind, WFD NGO is implementing “Peace and Conflict Resolution Education in Armenian Schools” project.

When and how was “Peace Education in Schools” project launched?

PE project was launched in 2002 aiming to form peace culture and conflict resolution ideas among teachers and schoolchildren. The final outcome of the project was to integrate Peace Education into Armenian school curriculum. Strategy which the organization had developed to reach the final outcome included;

  • launching peace education pilot project in separate schools,
  • evaluating the impact of peace education at schools based on the decrease in the cases of violence, as well as the changes visible in the behavior of individual schoolchildren,
  • integrating parents, in-service and pre-service teachers in the learning process,
  • cooperation with the National Institute of Education of RA Ministry of Education and Science
  • institutionalizing peace education.

This process lasted more than 13 years. The project was divided into several main stages:  Peace Education Centers were established at 16 schools of Armenia during 2002-2010, more than 1000 schoolchildren, 550 in-service and 150 pre-service teachers were trained, seminars were organized for more than 3200 parents. The Peace Centers, available at schools, allowed to try methodical approaches, adapted theoretical materials, games and drills, visual aids in integrating peace education in schools. A survey was conducted in separate schools after integrating peace education eight years later which made it possible to evaluate impact of peace and conflict resolution education on students in several years after the studies.  The results of the research showed that those schoolchildren, who took the Peace Education course, possessed sufficient skills and knowledge in conflict analysis and identification of the causes of the conflict, as well as communication and methods of conflict resolution. They have gained values, such as:

  • Respect towards history and culture of various nations
  • Understanding that each person is a bearer of peace
  • Confidence
  • Ability to protect own rights and to understand own responsibilities, etc.

The positive rating of the project allowed us to do lobbing and advocacy of the PE project among the state institutions developing education policy, like Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education. Subsequently, it was decided to increase the number of schools involved in the PE project, review methodical handbooks and teaching materials designed for teachers. This stage of the project was implemented in 2011-2013.

During this period “Peace and Conflict Resolution in Schools” project was implemented in 360 schools of Armenia’s 11 marzes/provinces, reaching out to more than 2100 teachers/class heads and approximately 40000 pupils of 6-9th forms. At this stage the main goal of the project was to create peaceful environment in schools of Armenia, thus contribute to the decrease in the number of conflict situations with violent outcomes.

With the goal of evaluating the project progress, WFD specialists analyzed and compared the results of pre and post tests, conducted among 4117 schoolchildren from 71 schools of 11 marzes of Armenia. The results of this research proved that the cases of school conflicts with violent outcomes decreased by 72%, cases of verbal violence decreased by 67%, and the cases of indirect violence decreased by 50%.

The results of this research proved that the cases of school conflicts with violent outcomes decreased by 72%, cases of verbal violence decreased by 67%, and the cases of indirect violence decreased by 50%.

Teachers involved in the project, mention:

  • Once peace lessons were initiated during the class of heads’ hours, they became the most awaited and most pleasant classes for the pupils.
  • Conflict resolution topics initiated high interest especially among the schoolchildren with low grades and those with “bad behavior”.
  • Pupils who usually did not participate in class discussions, started to take part in them, expressed their own opinions, made comments and recommendations.
  • The course helps to develop analytical thinking among children.
  • Positive changes are being observed not only in terms of the pupils’ behavior, but also in their academic progress.
  • Apologizing became easier even for the most conflicting children.
  • The project contributes to the improvement of pupil-parent-teacher relationships.
  • There are numerous examples, when the pupils were able to independently manage and resolve everyday conflicts, without intervention of their teachers, parents or friends, etc.

The next stage of the project has been implemented since 2014. It is the logical continuation and the main outcome of the previous experience gained in peace education. This already implies institutionalizing of peace education in Armenia. During this period peace education will be taught in almost 60% of Armenian schools or in more than 800 schools. At present it is already being taught at about 770 schools of Armenia’s 11 marzes.

“Women for Development” non-governmental organization has submitted two detailed suggestions to the National Institute of Education in regards to the institutionalization of peace education:

  1. include peace education materials in the training courses organized annually for teachers, and
  2. instruct all Armenian schools to include peace and conflict management education in the range of topics covered during the class of head hours, using Conflict management education manual developed by Women for Development NGO as a methodical handbook.

Our vision for peacebuilding in the region as a women’s organization

The strategy of Women for Development is to spread the Armenian model of peace education in the countries of the region – Azerbaijan and Georgia. The main idea is to integrate the same approach, the same teaching methodology, the same themes, etc of peace culture education in the education system of the neighboring countries in conflict. This approach will make an opportunity to educate a new generation dedicated to peace ideas – a generation for whom there will be only one possible way of resolving any kind of small or big issue, that is, the method of dialogue and negotiations; a generation for whom war and conflict will exist only in history books.

So far, we have succeeded in collaborating with several partner organizations in Georgia. Until the end of this year, peace education project developed by WFD NGO will be integrated in at least 3 Georgian schools as a pilot project, and later the results will be submitted to the Georgian Ministry of Education for the development of the corresponding steps. Because of the conflict escalation we fail to carry out joint projects and exchange experience with Azerbaijani partners yet, but we hope to overcome this obstacle with the help of our Georgian partners. The NGO has also received concrete collaboration offers from the organizations of several former Soviet Union countries for the exchange of the best practices and the main approaches of integrating peace education into school curriculum. The final version of the methodical handbook developed by us is translated into Russian, English and Georgian.

In conclusion I would especially like to mention that doing more than giving importance to peace education as means of ending violence and conflict globally, we are ready to collaborate with partner organizations, educational institutions, separate schools all over the world to share our experience and capacities.

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1 thought on “The importance of Peace Education in ending violence and conflict (Armenia)”

  1. Jackson itto Olia

    I think South Sudan 2013 conflict-turned war and failure of the parties and diplomats, regional efforts to find relevant solution to this war is due to absence of essential ingredients of peace ie absence of peaceful environment, model, approaches-strategies, tone of voices, false imaginations, reliance on rumors, belief that i can win the war through the barrels of guns, lack of trust etc!!
    Peace will be restore once South Sudan leaders have resorted to round-table means of resolving conflicts or War!!!

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