(Reposted from: Pakistan Christian Post. June 28, 2018)
National Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue and Ecumenism (NCIDE – Catholic Bishops Conference Pakistan) organized a Two Days Workshop on “Teachers as Peace Educators” under the umbrella of its Peace Education Program. The event took place on June 21-22, 2018 at St. Mary’s School Gulberg Lahore. There were 40 teachers from 9 different schools of Lahore. The main purpose of this workshop was to promote peace and harmony in the society by endorsing peace culture in schools, colleges and other academic institutions. In addition, also to develop the understanding of common human values which foster co-existence tolerance and acceptance.
Rev. Fr. Nakash Azam Director NCIDE Lahore Diocese in his opening remarks said that teachers are an integral part of the society and have a vital role to mould children as ambassadors of peace. Mr. Haroon Gill and Ms. Naureen Akhtar were the Resource Persons for this workshop. It was a very much interactive and participatory workshop where participants were actively involved in different activities to learn the concepts of peace education. On day one the Resource Persons discussed peace education and the need of it in the present context of Pakistan. The details of peace education as a process of promoting the knowledge, skills, and attitudes were shared which are needed to bring about behavior changes to enable children, the youth, and adults to prevent conflict and violence at home, schools and workplaces. Levels of conflict and various approaches were taught to resolve conflict peacefully and to create the conditions conducive to peace. The concept of interfaith, harmony and diversity was brought to light as diversity is a natural phenomenon and all religions emphasized on peace, co-existence, respect, tolerance and acceptance. The participants were also given awareness about the concept of interfaith dialogue and its four levels; Dialogue of theological exchange, Dialogue of exchange of religious experience, dialogue of action and dialogue of daily life were shared along with illustrations.
On day two, after recapping the previous day, the areas of peace educations were identify on individual level, school level, national level and global level where peace is necessitated according to the context. The participants were also given guidance on the ways of integrating peace education through various subjects in the existing curriculum. The questions raised by the participants about existing challenges in the classrooms were discussed in details. In the last session, the knowledge about the practices was shared which makes a school a place of peace and a model for peace education. Through group activities the teachers also shared their practices in the school and they came up with their own model for peace education. On the whole the participants took part in the workshop actively and they were found in high spirits to learn knowledge and new methods of promoting peace in the society as peace educators.
His Grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, Chairman NCIDE was the Chief Guest. Maulana Muhammad Asim Makhdoom was also invited as an honorable guest. Maulana Muhammad Asim Makhdoom appreciated the endurance of NCIDE to promote peace through education and equipping teachers with the necessary skills. He also put forward that in the future teachers from Madrassas and private schools can participate together in such workshop to promote peace.
His Grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, Chairman NCIDE remarked that the fundamental role of teachers for the promotion of peace is very much obligatory. We must provide opportunities for them to learn more and also encourage them to continue to play their role as peace educators for sustainable peace in the society. He also said it is very much needed to accept one another along with tolerance. He also proposed such workshops must be conducted in other parts of the country.
Rev. Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Executive Secretary NCIDE in his closing remarks thanked all the participants and said that children are our future and teachers as peace educators must continue to implant the seed of peace in children. To eliminate all forms of violence in the society it is the foremost responsibility of teachers to induce such peace values in students through teaching curriculum and involving students in co-curriculum activities.
At the end of day His Grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw along with Maulana Muhammad Asim Makhdoom, Rev. Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap and Rev. Fr. Adan Kashif OFM Cap disturbed the certificates of participation among all the participants. The workshop concluded with the peace prayer of St. Francis of Assisi which was recited by Rev. Fr. Adan Kashif OFM Cap.