Political stability and development through peace education in Ethiopia

(Reposted from: Ethiopian Press Agency.  June 8, 2019)

By Zelalem Girma

In the past couple of years, Ethiopia has faced turbulence and havoc by internal and external actors in Ethiopia. Of the external actors, it is important to look on the refugee flows from Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan, which is almost flooding and affecting the stability of the people of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was at the forefront in peacekeeping contributions in the horn of Africa through the African Union mission. With the help of police, army and civilians; Ethiopia was leading successful operation as a peacekeeper in the region. For example, it is likely to mention Ethiopia’s positive role as super star actor in peacekeeping activities in Somalia, South Sudan, and Rwanda.

Though it has the potential in peacekeeping activities, what matters then hold-back Ethiopia to ensure its own internal peace, which has still been in a state of off and on, sometimes up and sometimes down. It is part of the turbulent and turmoil situation in the Horn of Africa because of international instability, neighborhoods’ instability. In fact, Ethiopia can never be an island, where there is a fire in its neighborhood.

Since Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.) coming to power, his government is still attempting its level best to keep the country’s peace having peaceful and tolerant policy. Thus, the government is trying to make peace a culture to this country through developing peace education curriculum from primary to secondary school.

In this case, the peace education must focus on how to deal with peace, how to resolve conflict non-violently. Although Ethiopia’s history is like other countries’ history; conflict, violence, and war are not confined to Ethiopia, it is seen of course at global level. No country or no human is an island from turbulent and turmoil situation in this world. The difference made between nations is the way they resolve conflicts wisely and ensure sustainable peace and stability to their people.

As addressed by many scholars, the value of peace is immense for development. If there is no peace, there will no development. But, one thing we should consider here is the issue of development includes about human development, other than constructing asphalt roads and high buildings. Attention should be first given for the development of human capacity, and positive thinking humanity. That is the reason; it seems Abiy’s governance focuses on peaceful and reconciliation between and among peoples of different regional states.

Unless peaceful thinking is entrenched as the culture in this country, we cannot think of development. In so doing, every one of us needs to be actively engaged in the conscious development of peaceful thinking. Whatever rising towers built in the cities, it might be destroyed at last, unless we develop the feeling of ownership.

Before a year, any one may see vehicles and many factories are burned in some parts of the country. Why is that? Let’s simply focus on human development. Indeed, peace and development are directly related with each other. Development should be holistic, not isolated. Unless we address the root causes for the violent in the country, we can’t talk on development.

Now, Ethiopia in fact makes good relationship between and among neighboring countries. The incumbent also pledged to work together with many countries around the world; and the determination for cooperation with these countries in economic, social and political matters are optimistic.

These peaceful and cooperative efforts aspires more honesty, further commitment, and stronger partnership with these countries. IGAD has to also play its key role in strengthening the integration of nations in the region. ECOWAS is exemplary both in economic and political issues. That strength is lacking in the Horn of Africa.

Some people in Ethiopia are now fighting for hegemony; we all have to cooperate to push conflict far better than today. Still, there is very interesting move that has to be strengthened as expected.

In this regard, the first thing the government should fix is building trust among the people. Internally, the society must trust the government; the government must trust the society. The state must ensure the security of the people, and the society must pay tax to the government. The tax paying society and the security providing government must trust each-other. Do we have that trust now? Trust must be first built far better than it is. The Government must listen to its citizens, and address fundamental public questions, root causes of instabilities, and grievances among other things.

Secondly, the government must embark the same development projects across the regional states. Ethiopia’s wealth inequality between the poor and the rich; and from region to region is visible. Moreover, development in a single society couldn’t necessarily been translated to poverty reduction, unless the government takes the initiative in ensuring the all-inclusive development to reduce poverty as well as to raise social development.

Thus, holistic development is the right way to lift the poor out of poverty and from state of violence and instability. Apart from the huge investments in health institutes and schools, the establishment of social protection networks will have significant role in Ethiopian human development.

Thirdly, the 3L must be there; the government should listen, learn and lead. The government should give ears to listen different ideas. If leaders always say their way is super highway; that is dangerous. The government has to be a learning organization, just like a family.

The same is true for political parties; they should trust each other rather than to be more powerful over the other. It is important to appear as brother as we all are almost footing under poverty. Since the forceful and non-peaceful acts affected all of us; every political organization should not focus on provocation, confrontation and conflict. They rather must stand together to build a more democratic and prosperous nation.

The Ethiopian Herald June 7, 2019

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