Schools and Universities
Can peace be learned? Whatever the answer, there is no doubt that helping the students to discover the value of peace in their own life would constitute a valuable addition to any educational path.
The United Nations promote Peace Education as the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and of developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviours to live in harmony with oneself and with others.
Educational institutions can have a primary role in promoting a culture of peace with younger generations and (can) support the inclusion of peace as a key subject in the educational process.
At the moment, more than 50 schools and educational institutions across Europe have signed the Pledge to Peace, and their number is constantly growing.
Organising events and forums on the topic of peace
Educational institutions can gather students, teaching staff and families around the topic of peace, creating forums, conferences and events.
Schools and universities are natural spaces for discussing and exploring topics such as this, and they can be centres of excellence in bringing forward a culture of peace.
The United World College in Flekke, Norway, invited other signatories of the Pledge to share their visions and initiatives with the students.
They also created a “Peace Mentoring” series of events, where they invited personalities involved with peace processes to exchange views with the students.
The Convitto Nazionale School in Rome will organise a large event in 2015 in the Main Concert Hall of the city, hosting young artistic talents and famous performers who will express their vision of peace through music, theatre, dance, poetry and readings. The audience will include city and state authorities, students, teachers and families. Other colleges affiliated with the Convitto will be connected live to the event all other the Country, and the evening will be broadcast by TV and radio stations.
Schools in Mazara del Vallo, Sicily, organised a "Peace Festival" calling students, teachers and families to participate in events like concerts, shows, photo exhibitions, artistic performances, public forums that involved the entire city.
The Salvo d’Acquisto school in Lari, Pisa (Italy) organized a seven-day festival (Let’s weave Peace”), featuring artistic expressions of young students on the topic of peace.
Organising creative contests on the topic of peace
The City of Mazara del Vallo, Sicily, organised (since 2011) a yearly contest between the city schools on the topic of peace. Students were invited to present peace-related projects. The winning project gets financing and coaching in order to see completion.
Another contest is organized by the Convitto Nazionale School in Rome every year, with a “Peace and well-being Prize” awarded for the following categories:
“Drawing peace”, dedicated to primary school students.
“Writing about Peace”, essays and poetry.
“Peace in music”, musical compositions and song-writing.
“Dancing Peace", dance performances.
“Peace Projects”, practical ideas for a culture of peace.
In 2014 the winner was a project that envisioned a “Peace videogame”. This project was awarded with financing by the school.
Organizing lessons on the topic of peace
The United World College in Flekke, Norway, created a series of lessons on peace.
The same is being done by the Convitto Nazionale School in Rome and by other schools in Italy.
So far, lessons mainly focused on:
- Exploring the different meanings attributed to peace
- What famous thinkers said about peace
- Reflections triggered by these elements in the students
- The role of the individual in pursuing and fostering peace
The format has been highly experimental and what is emerging is the need for a more comprehensive approach.
Participating in the creation of a Peace Education Curriculum
Drawing inspiration from the encouraging results of the experimental lessons on peace organized by some of the signatories, the Secretariat of the Pledge is actively working with schools to create a more structured and encompassing Peace Education programme for every school level.
Several schools are trying out topics and formats. We are finding out that the most important factor is letting every individual discover the inherent value of peace, so the program needs to be modelled on reflection and interaction.
This activity will soon be synchronized by a working group that will help creating materials, practices and standards for the programme.