On 15 – 16 February 2017, Interpeace participated in the SDG4 Regional Forum for Eastern Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The high level forum – organized by UNESCO with the support of the SDG4 co-conveners (ILO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women, UNHCR and the World Bank) – seeks to enable Member States under the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa (Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) to present their national SDG4 roadmaps in support of the implementation of the 2030 Education Agenda. The national delegations at the forum will be led by their respective Ministers of Education and will include the SDG 4 National Focal Points.
Interpeace had a speaking role at the forum, which provided an opportunity to share its experience working with local, national and international partners to promote peace education in the Great Lakes region of Africa. This experience and suggested actions points are included in a discussion paper, available in full here.
The African Great Lakes Region has experienced some of the most intractable conflicts ever witnessed in Africa. Millions of lives have been lost in recurrent conflicts that have caused indescribable suffering to the peoples of the region. In the three countries of Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the cross-border nature of the conflicts has left profound marks on the populations of the region, particularly on the youth. Many youth have historically played a central role in the recurrent conflicts via armed groups that they join either through coercion or manipulation, resulting in a situation where violence has become the primary means of dealing with conflict.
This discussion paper presents action points that stemmed from a regional summit that took place in March 2016 in Nairobi on Peace Education in the Great Lakes Region, co-organized by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Interpeace and UNESCO. Participants in the summit included officials from the Ministries of Education, Gender and Youth from Governments of Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC; parliamentarians; leaders of provincial governments; education practitioners; as well as technical experts in peacebuilding and peace education from the ICGLR, Interpeace and UNESCO.
Participants stressed the importance of strengthening moral and ethical values among youth to ensure that they become the drivers of constructive social change and the pillars of sustainable peace and stability in the Great Lakes region. They therefore called for the rapid advancement of a regional peace education policy that will provide a foundation for all member states to institutionalize and promote peace education within their respective countries, both at the formal and non-formal levels. The Summit further emphasized the urgency of making peace education a priority for policy makers in the region.
Key Proposals on the way forward
The overarching policy proposal is a call to situate peace education at the centre of a collective effort by regional states, regional bodies and development partners in the Great Lakes, with the long-term goal of forming future generations of young people who will be effective agents of peace in the region, a key factor in building lasting peace. It is in this regard that participants in the summit proposed the following recommendations to stakeholders:
Development Partners, both bilateral and multilateral, are encouraged to further the development of peace education by supporting regional policy making efforts, the production of the necessary pedagogical tools as well as reinforcing collaboration and partnerships between relevant actors in the region. Regional Organizations are encouraged to place peace education as a priority item on their agenda for peace and stability in the Great lakes region. This call is particularly relevant to the mandates of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), the East African Community (EAC), ICGLR, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the African Union. Education Ministries are encouraged to work towards standardizing peace education curriculum within their countries, and to mobilize the requisite human capacities and material resources required that will enable the provision of effective, formal peace education. This comes out of the realization that although peace education exists in all regional countries, albeit at varying degrees of implementation, there are gaps between the existing political will and action on the ground. Beyond formal peace education in schools, participants recommended the engagement of other actors, such as parents and the church, which can play an important role in providing peace education to non-schooling youth.