Nurturing peace, security and progress through education

13Jun 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Nurturing peace, security and progress through education

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 36 out of 45 countries are at medium or high risk of experiencing man-made disasters, the highest rate globally.

Education’s power is transformative and serves as a peace dividend, reducing inequities and grievances between groups and strengthening social cohesion.

Moreover, at least 327 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa live in fragile contexts and the majority of the estimated 29 million primary school aged children who are out of school are primarily found in fragile settings and are particularly at risk or threatened by conflict.

As most African countries are putting a lot of efforts into ensuring that their countries become middle income countries in the next decade, dealing with issues of peace and security are very essential in ensuring the political and economic environment is stable for supporting production activities take place effectively.

Education can play both a protective and preventative role. In doing this, education’s power is transformative and serves as a peace dividend, reducing inequities and grievances between groups and strengthening social cohesion. With support from various online resources this article is going to discuss the role of education in building peace and security.

According to Jemimah Ombongi, a lecturer at Moi University, education for peace, solidarity and prosperity entails the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment.

To have peace means the absence of conflict or violence and conversely as the presence of states of mind and of society such as harmony, accord, security and understanding. It is concerned with helping learners to develop an awareness of the process and skills that are necessary for achieving understanding, tolerance and goodwill in the world today.

Education for peace should be a participatory process which aims at changing society’s way of thinking and which promotes learning of peace. Education should be put on issues that may lead to conflict well such as gender studies, speaking the language of non-violence and creation of proper international relations.

Humanity faces challenges of unprecedented proportions such as the continued development of weapons of mass destruction, conflicts between states and ethnic groups, the spread of racism, community violence, the huge widening gap between the rich and the poor throughout the globalised economy, massive violation of human rights and the degradation of the environment.

These issues are a stumbling block to the attainment of world order. In order to tackle these complex and interwoven problems, there is need to make the preventive measures and solutions to these problems deeply routed in the minds of the populations. This justifies the need for educating people for peace, which should focus on human security and how to live in a world infested with diversity.

Education for peace should entail examining and discussing our values and attitudes towards diversity, cultural differences, tolerance and human dignity and directing our efforts towards achieving fundamental changes within societies. It is important to develop language and social interaction skills to promote peaceful relations among people, among nations and between human beings and the natural environment.

The Learning process should ensure that the trainees are able to solve problems and to think critically regarding issues of conflict and violence. We need peace education for ourselves, our relationship with other human beings to promote respect for oneself and respect for others on individual level as a prerequisite for the prevention of violence and conflict at society level and to raise people’s consciousness about their rights whilst promoting international understanding between the people of different worlds.

Peace education should thus seek to transmit such relevant information and other methods of peaceful conflict resolutions, training and non violent means of setting differences in the family, at school or the work place and in other common place settings, thus creating a commitment to similar behavior on a larger national and international level.
Many are left without basic access to natural resources such as sanitation and a clean water supply.

The lack of proper health care, water care and sanitation infrastructures leads to high mortality and disease rates and poses threat to the promotion of peace and stability. Indigenous and minority groups are frequently denied access to own property, denying them independence and provoking feelings of resentment.

Feelings of insecurity and instability as a result of unemployment, poverty, lack of education, good government, health care infrastructure and the increase of drug abuse provide further grounds for resorting to the use of violence. Threats to peace come from many dimensions: economic, political, social, cultural and environmental.

Peace can only be attained if each nation has an interest in maintaining peace and security. Nations must cooperate in order to attain global equity. This cooperation must come in terms of economic, social and political change and the promotion of peace at national, regional and global levels.

Economic issues are closely linked to the maintenance of peace and security, particularly as a result of globalization, as countries become more closely connected and interdependent. Economic stability is an essential requirement in order to build peace within a society. The uneven distribution of benefits: economic growth, modernization and employment, has resulted in an increased gap between members of society.

Inequality in economic opportunities and unemployment has left the majority of the members of society with insufficient opportunities to obtain a decent living without assistance from outside sources, preventing them from getting out the cycle of poverty. Unequal access to education prevents them from obtaining skills that would contribute to their development and self sufficiency. Without improvement to the current situation of developing countries, which constitute the majority of the world’s people, global security will become increasingly threatened by acts of terrorism and political instability.

The basic importance of education is to enable individuals with knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge. Education is therefore commonly regarded as the most direct avenue to rescue a substantial number of people out of poverty since there is likely to be more employment opportunities and higher wages for skilled workers.

Furthermore, education can enable children’s attitudes and assists them to grow up with social values that are more beneficial to the nation and themselves. The theoretical basis of education on economic growth is rooted in the endogenous growth theory.

Endogenous growth economists believe that improvements in productivity can be linked to a faster pace of innovation and extra investment in human capital. Endogenous growth theorists argue the need for government and private sector institutions and markets which nurture innovation, and provide incentives for individuals to be inventive.

There is also a central role for knowledge as a determinant of economic growth. Endogenous growth theory predicts positive externalities and spill-over effects from development of a high valued-added knowledge economy which is able to develop and maintain a competitive advantage in growth industries in the global economy.

Education at all levels contributes to economic growth through imparting general attitudes and discipline and specific skills necessary for a variety of workplaces. It contributes to economic growth by improving health, reducing fertility and possibly by contributing to political stability.

The major importance of the educational system to any labour market would depend majorly in its ability to produce a literate, disciplined, flexible labour force via high quality education. Consequently, with economic development new technology is applied to production, which results in an increase in the demand for workers and better education.

Political stability is closely linked to the prevention of conflict and the promotion of peace. Many political systems restrict democratic practices, violating human rights and increasing their own power at the expense of the public.

This stimulates corruption, injustice and abuse within the society. Such totalitarian regimes force their own values and beliefs upon members of the society through the use of state-controlled media. This abuse of human rights is correlated with low life expectancies and high mortality rates, deterioration of the environment and the drain of labor and capital resources.

Peace cannot be maintained if there is injustice and disparity in the society. States should promote the values of democracy that provide empowerment to the people, the ability to influence policy, protect human rights and most importantly, hold the government accountable. Promotion of democracy prevents conflict, strengthens governance, improves the rule of law and creates stability.

The concept of conflict resolution, typically focus on the social-behavioural symptoms of conflict, training individuals to resolve inter-personal disputes through techniques of negotiation and (peer) mediation. Learning to manage anger, ‘fight fair’ and improve communication through skills such as listening, identifying needs, and separating facts from emotions, constitute the main elements of these mechanisms.

These mechanism should aim to ‘alter beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour, that is, from negative to positive attitudes toward conflict as a basis for preventing violence’.

Education is a cornerstone in the peace-building process. As today's youth become increasingly desensitized to violence, the roles of schools and the curriculum they represent assume great importance. Schools have the power to shape the attitudes and skills of young people toward peaceful human relations.

Through teaching young children values of respect, tolerance, and empathy, and by equipping them with the necessary skills to resolve conflict in a non-violent manner, they are provided with the tools they need, now and in the future, to foster peaceful relations at home, at school and around the world.

Education builds the foundations for good citizenship, respect for self and others, democratic values and tolerance of opinions. Educational research indicates that when young people are trained in civics, mediation, ethnic tolerance and conflict resolution, the likelihood that they will resort to violence later in life is diminished. History tells us that education is no guarantee against hatred and war, but it enlarges people's horizons and breaks down stereotypes and prejudices.

Wars and conflicts threaten peace and security to all. Their urgent nature calls for the need to reduce violence through education. Times have changed, and this requires a more proactive outlook. Education covers economic, political, social, cultural, moral and ethical issues, and is vital in transforming people’s attitudes towards dealing with conflicts.

The impact of violence and insecurity affects all countries. It is a global concern, requiring a global approach to a solution. Do your part.