JOINT REPORT OF THE LAUNCHING OF PEACE EDUCATION CAMPAIGN IN BAMENDA, ON THURSDAY, 25TH APRIL 2019, AT THE BAMENDA CITY COUNCIL LIBRARY.
The meeting holding within the backdrop of increasing violence and conflict in the North West region in particular, and the English Speaking part of Cameroon, was a forum to discuss possible ways of carrying out peace education in our different communities. The meeting had as participant’s members of civil society organizations, teachers, students, and Pastors from different denominations. The meeting was organized by ROHI Foundation, Cameroon Peace Foundation Association and the Global Campaign for Peace Education. This meeting was the 2nd phase of a similar campaign launched in Buea to sensitize the public on peace education.
DISCUSSIONS DURING THE MEETING
The meeting opened with the reading of the agenda for the meeting, and prayer by one of the participants. This was immediately followed by the introduction of all participants and their organizations. This was then followed by a word of welcome from Rev. Fuhbang Emmanuel from ROHI Foundation. He went further to give a background of the organization and said it was created since 2008 with her main program being Humanitarian works, Human Rights and Peace. He also highlighted that the past projects which have basically been setting up peace clubs in schools. He ended up by thanking all the participants to have taken out time from their busy schedules to participate in the meeting, and encouraged all to feel free to contribute to the topic of discussion.
The next item on the agenda was the reflection on peace education by the peace expert, Mr. Nforndip Ben Oru alias “Ben Peaceman” from the Cameroon Peace Foundation Association, Buea. He started by stating his background as a peace ambassador who studied at the United Nation University in Costa Rica where he studied peace education. He proceeded to point out his challenge of incorporating peace education in the school curriculum because of the Cameroonian authorities at the time. But despite this challenge, he has always been promoting peace through peace clubs and outdoor campaigns. He when further to state that peace is still possible quoting the preamble of the UN constitution that states inter alia “since wars began in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of Peace must be constructed” violence start in the hearts of men, it is in the hearts of men that peace should begin. He stated that if we fail to teach young people peace, they will learn about violence.
The next point of discussion was the reasons why we think people in Cameroon engage in violence especially in the current crisis in Cameroon? The participant gave diverse responses, prominent among which were: lack of fairness in the sharing of the countries resources, lack of peace education in schools, resistance to government poor policies, dominance of Francophones in national life, negligence of government to listen to the people, denial of the truth about the problem among others. He summarized by quoting Mahamad Gandhi that there is no way to peace, but peace itself.
He proceeded to state the pillars of peace, which are: Justice and strong institutions, the love for your neighbor, acceptance of human rights, sound business environment, free flow of information, equitable distribution of resources etc. He highlighted the fact that for this to be achieved there must be a proper peace education at schools. He then defined peace education as the process of acquiring knowledge and values that lead to peace as per Jonathan Gultang-the father of peace education. He also stated that peace education is holistic and can be thought at all levels of education.
Also, another point of interest was to know what the values of peace are. He said the values of peace are justice, truth, love. But what can we do to achieve peace? The participants responded by saying that we can organize workshops and training program like this one for people to gain more knowledge, targeting grassroots communities, talking on different platforms like media, by engaging everyone in the process of peacebuilding, volunteering in community peacebuilding initiatives. It should be noted that the different participants shared their views on how they have been targeting peace education within their communities but it should be noted these strategies differ from one community to another as they may work in different communities and fail in others. It was therefore agreed that participants must take note of the different behavioral patterns in their communities, guard against criticizing one party and mind the words they use to discuss with the different parties to the conflict. He then concluded that the process is peacebuilding is before, during and after a war, therefore peace education is a necessary exercise to guarantee peace in our society. 17 peace activists from different civil society organizations were in attendance.
- It was resolved that this of the peace education campaign will continue in the coming months in other regional capitals.
- A WhatsApp Group is created to keep the conversation alive
- Handouts be shared to participants via emails address
- Seek and share peacebuilding funding opportunities with members of the platform for possible interventions within our different communities
- Participants should visit the website worldbeyondwar.org to learn more and download free information about peace.