Peace Education in Schools​

Peace Education in Schools

Nowadays, when the world is facing so many challenges in terms of conflicts in different parts around the globe, teaching young people about peace is more important than ever. Thus, the topic – peace education in schools – is gaining more and more importance. Implementing peace education in schools is not as easy as it might sound, as the topic itself is associated with some uncertainty. There are many questions around peace education. Is there any shared definition of what is peace education? How should peace be taught in schools? What are the values that peace education as a subject should give to the pupils?

To answer these questions, first it is important to have a clear understanding of what peace itself means. It is safe to say that it is the most difficult part – defining peace so that it is shared and commonly accepted. In peace and conflict studies, two types of peace are distinguished: negative and positive peace. If the first defines peace as an absence of physical violence, absence of war, the second concentrates more on defining peace as the absence of direct structural and cultural violence. It also concentrates on the development of society and increased scale of justice.

On the other hand, education is about giving people knowledge and practical skills within a specific field. But when it comes to such wide topics as “peace”, it might always be a challenge to determine what to put in the school curriculum so that the students have an understanding of peace as not some abstract phenomenon, that exists independently from them but as something that can be built. Generally, peace education aims to give the students the skills  to be active in the society and promote peaceful values and societal peacebuilding. At the same time, peace education is linked with giving the skills to the students in conflict resolution as well. The society itself might face different types of conflict – between the individuals, individuals and groups, between the groups, between the societies… Therefore, students need the skills to first analyze and second deal with different types of conflicts without violence in their lives or around them.

It is true that different societies have different challenges and there is no one solution that fits all. However, there are key principles that can be taken into consideration while speaking about bringing peace education in a school curriculum. Peace education is usually built on a notion of positive peace and includes promoting peaceful relationships and environment in schools itself – addressing the structural and cultural violence within the schools. But at the same time it is important for peace education approaches to go beyond the curriculum and work on enabling the students to use the skills, knowledge and values beyond the classroom. According the studies, peace education should generally be concentrated : students to be healthy members of a healthy, peaceful community; to have personal, social, emotional, and interpersonal skills; be capable of empathy and solidarity both within and across geographic borders and social groups; and are able to deconstruct foundations of violence (such as poverty, inequality, discrimination, racial injustice, gender disparity, ecological degradation) and take action to advance the prospects of peace. It is also important adequate training to be provided to the teachers to ensure that adequate lessons and support is provided to the students.

But still, why is it important to bring peace education to schools? It is often discussed that it not only helps to make the school environment more peaceful and less violent, but also schools provide knowledge and skills, they shape social and cultural values, norms and attitudes. Thus, there is a high potential that implementing peace education into school curriculum can improve societal peace levels, including tolerance levels and violence rates and improve people’s skills in terms of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. But still, despite the topic gaining the momentum now, more studies and analyses are needed about the best ways of implementing it is as a part of school curriculum to ensure that the aims of the peace education are achieved.