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Education for Peace

It’s easy to be anti. Anti war, anti nuclear weapons, anti renditions flights, anti Britain being used as a refuelling post for the US military. All moral outrages, needing condemnation, but it is also important to be positive and in favour of things too.
Following a meeting with Diane Basterfield, founder of the London-based campaign for a Ministry of Peace, I started thinking what could we do here, with a Scottish Parliament with no locus for foreign or military affairs. Education for Peace was the obvious answer.
Promoting Education for Peace turns the political debate on its head. Rather than focussing on the ills – knife crime, sectarianism, prejudice etc – the debate moves to the root causes of violence, and the peaceful solutions.
Equally importantly we need to reclaim the word “peace”. Peace is not the absence of war. Nor is it as George Bush/Blair would have it, the subjugation of one people by another. Rather, it is achieved through mutually-agreed justice and fair play. As Bush goes for his sort of peace in the Middle East, we cannot underestimate the importance of linking peace with justice.
In June 2004, Greens held a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Education for Peace. It sparked a huge amount of interest – the Scottish Parliament’s bulletin board had more postings on that than on almost any previous subject.
I established a parliamentary Cross-Party Group on a Culture of Peace – this is, in case you hadn’t noticed, the middle of the UN Decade of a Culture of Peace – to provide a forum for the solutions, not the problems. The Group meets up to three times a year; to join contact michael.collie@scottish.parliament.uk.
I was contacted by Arthur Romano, a Rotary peace scholar at Bradford University, and together we contacted a range of people and organisations throughout Scotland, all of whom defined themselves as being involved in some way with education for peace. Arthur wrote a university thesis on the results of this survey, and I have now produced a small booklet based on that, “Education for peace in Scotland”.
The booklet looks at the values of Education for Peace, the processes which build peace and some of the topics which could specifically promote peace, and help children grow with an understanding of how peace is built. Much of it is simple educational best practice. But in a world where the debate moves towards airport-style scanners for knives at school gates, it is important to keep restating what is the real solution.

Working over a short timescale it has been impossible to be comprehensive, but I hope it is also a useful resource list. It is the very first time such a survey has been carried out in Scotland, and it is my hope that the booklet will encourage further work in this field.

At the heart of peace education is a respect for oneself and the community, respect for other cultures, and for the environment. It is potentially a huge sphere of activity, and clearly resonates with education for citizenship – enabling young people to develop capability for thoughtful and responsible participation in society and develop strategies for dealing with conflict.

 

 

For example, Who2blame at Newbattle School stood out for the way it linked personal, social and global dimensions of peace and co-operation - young people linked issues of violence and aggression within their community to the wider global community; acquired various skills from film-making to negotiation and mediation skills; to greater awareness of issues surrounding violence.

We will be holding an all day conference on Education for Peace in the Scottish Parliament on September 16th. If you are interested in attending, contact Michael Williams, rjmwilliams@hotmail.com..

It is central to my politics that I believe that humans are intrinsically fair, just and peace-loving. People who know the full facts from all sides will normally come up with a just solution. Education is the key.

Chris Ballance MSP
Green speaker on Peace

 

 
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