TITLE: Peace Education and its
Implementation in Angola
AUTHOR: Luis Samacumbi
SOURCE: Congregational Church of Angola
SUMMARY & COMMENT: An excellent analysis of current theories on peace education, of the current war culture which still exists in Angola. Samacumbi suggests some directions in which peace education might go, including becoming part of the government school curriculum. The author has a contagious spirit of optimism that the younger generation can be led and taught to work for peace and conflict resolution.JK
PEACE EDUCATION AND ITS IMPLEMENTATION IN ANGOLA
By: Luis Samacumbi
Luanda, Angola, June 2003.
It was early morning of a bright and cold day March 20, 2003. I woke up very sad at Saletinos Priest's Center in Lubango city- Huila Province. I turned on my small AM/FM radio; the first news I heard was " the Anglo-American Forces are currently attacking Iraq". I fell on my knees praying to Almighty God, " Why do you allow this disastrous episode to happen?" Before I came to the end of my prayer, a hopeful statement came to mind "- keep your hope alive-". Then I stood up and pronounced the phrase of the peace studies course " -There Are Always Alternatives"! Once again violent response to conflict was found by the United States as the easy and quick way out. Non-violent alternatives available to deal with conflict were largely ignored, or treat as mere formalities to be gone through until war preparations were ready. Worldwide, people were marching claiming " NO WAR". This was the desire of peaceful people asking those who hold power to give peace a chance.
It is for this reason that I valued the need for peace education through which people can be taught how to keep hope alive toward a more peaceful world. Because I strongly believe that peace is actually possible. "We commit ourselves to non-violence and look for ways to break the cycles of violence in our own lives and in our own households". (Harris, 2003:1)
Peace education is the starting point from which we can work to change individual and societal thinking in order to give up too easy violent approaches.
This paper will explore the debates taking place in the field of peace education, through which I will show my own understanding of peace education as well as the justification of my position. A short description of Angola with particular reference to issues of conflict and violence will be provided. Finally, an exploration of how peace education might work in the Angolan context and of what form it should take will also given.
Exploring Current Debates of Peace Education:
There are a number of different understandings of peace education, which emphasize different target audiences, different areas of focus, and even different outcomes.
Peace education is not static, nor it simply trapped in a current situation, but builds on the past, on responsiveness to the present reality and on images of future alternatives. A summary of various points of views is presented here as follows:
The meaning of Peace Education:
Peace education has developed rapidly since the 1960s despite political obstructions. Today there is a great concern about the issue worldwide, due to continuous and constant threat to human existence. Peace education depends also on the place, the time and the problems that constitute the `here and now' reality that threatens people's survival.
For instance Europeans and Africans diverged at the World Congress on Disarmament Education at UNESCO in June 1980. For the Europeans, the main issue was the problem of nuclear armaments and the search for ways to abolish these weapons. Africans were concerned about many people dying as a result of poverty and starvation.
Barteld identified six approaches of concepts of peace education: the first type tries to create an aversion to violence, fosters an anti-militaristic attitude and rejects depictions of violence in the visual media, war games and war toys. The second traces the causes of aggression and promotes the learning of ways to handle it minimizing damage to others. The third focuses on equipping people with knowledge and skills to handle conflict. The fourth tries to abolish prejudice and the negative stereotypes of the enemy, creating a climate of better understanding toward other peoples and cultures. The fifth focuses on the international system marked by anarchy in which each nation strives for its own interests and this is the main source of war. And the sixth focuses on people's awareness. The point of departure for this approach is the conviction that society is not a fixed structure. (Burns and Aspeslagh, 2002).
Focus of Peace Education:
Peace education has a different focus in various states around the World. In Australia, PE focuses on challenging ethnocentrism, cultural chauvinism and violence and promoting cultural diversity, nuclear disarmament and conflict resolution. In Japan, PE mostly targets issues of nuclear disarmament, militarism and the nature of responsibility for acts of violence in the past. In South America, PE is preoccupied with structural violence, human rights, and economic inequality. In the United States, PE is concerned about prejudice, violence and environmental issues. (Bar-Tal, 2002: 2).
Peace education is also understood as a holistic approach that involves various levels. Beginning with personal peace and expanding to wider circles such as interpersonal, national, global peace and peace between humans and the earth.
Other Common Peace education emphases:
Actually PE has a great range of interpretations apart from those viewed above; many scholars give other emphases. Peace education is:
Essentially about understanding the nature of conflict at various levels from the personal to the global.
Primarily about studying the causes of war and human aggression, and exploring a range of methods for war prevention.
Based on an awareness of the rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups in the World today.
About the ways in which schools operate.
Peace Education aims:
The common general objectives are among others the following:
To foster changes in order to make the World a better and more humane place.
To diminish and/or to eradicate human ills ranging from injustice, inequality, prejudice, intolerance, abuse of Human Rights, environmental destruction, violent conflict and so forth in order to create a World of justice, peace and other positive features.
To mobilize pupils and teachers to take part in a campaign for change.
To promote the development and implementation of conflict resolution and peacemaking programs for people of all ages equipping them with resources and skills that encourage an ethos of constructive conflict resolution and peacemaking.
To investigate different concepts and examples of peace on a variety of levels from the personal to the global.
To develop an understanding of peace as a state of being and as a process characterized by an absence of direct violence and presence of well-being and just relationships in the political social, economic and ecological spheres.
To cultivate on people attitudes and values which will enable them to contribute toward some form of change.
And to create skills enabling people to be able to utilize reflective thinking, through which they deepen their understanding of themselves and their connectedness to others and to the living earth.
To explore peace both as a state of being and as an active process for the promotion of positive human relations.
To examine obstacles to peace at an individual, group, institutional and societal level.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of non-violent assertiveness, which shows more strength in the long term than bullying and the use of force, because children who learn to assert themselves without bullying are less likely to become victims of bullies.
To build self-esteem through constructive and non-hostile peer relationships.
My understanding about Peace Education:
I would like to acknowledge that I was born and grew up in a war situation. Thus, images of sad and unhappy things were part of my life since I was born. To explore the avenues of peace and peace education is my great desire and dream, because I understand that through peace education people starting as I am will change the way of thinking and will gradually change the culture of war to a culture of peace.
" Wars will not cease, either on the ground or in people's minds, unless each and every one of us resolutely embarks on the struggle against intolerance and violence by attacking the evil at its roots.
Education offers us the means to do this. . Education is what will enable us to move from a culture of war, which we unhappily know only too well, to a culture of peace"
Peace education is therefore, a formal and/or informal schooling, where people learn forms of creating a culture of peace, analyze the causes of violence and learn values and skills that are congruent with peaceful behavior. Peace education is also a gateway that takes people to various avenues of learning to appreciate our differences, but honestly and sincerely addressing the imbalances. This emphasizes accepting other realities and other ways of viewing things. Accepting that other people have different ways of looking at the world is most important. This acceptance of differing reality can be an asset in our response to conflict and help develop the capacity to empathize with other views, even though they are not those we ourselves hold.
In addition, through peace education people will be aware that " war is the worst enemy of development; healthy and balanced development is the best form of conflict prevention" (Aboagye, 2000:1)
Peace education is actually a call for an inclusive approach to mutual coexistence and to a holistic way of living. A holistic way of living implies to live in peace with others and with the environment in all perspectives.
For Christians, to live in peace with others is a commandment from Jesus Christ and it is therefore part of my Christian obligation. From the New Testament perspective, violence is strongly condemned:
"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him ' Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed', but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?" (James 2:15,16)
Violence is associated with hurt, force, sadness, anger, and fear. This is a consequence of the inability to resolve conflict effectively. In this regard, Tyrrel cited by Sathiparsad and Gray (2002:182) described peace education as a form of preventive intervention to combat rising rates of crime, violence and delinquency among young people by empowering them to become agents for non-violent social change.
Peace education is the only available way to create a more peaceful world.
Brief overview on the Angolan Conflict and violence:
Angola is known today for its historical situation of long conflict, poverty and misery, in spite of, its natural resources. Angola was a Portuguese colony for five hundred years, whose policy was characterized by (Chikueka 1999: 61) as " one of the worst in colonial history. The people were oppressed, treated as uneducated laborers, and forced to be slaves". The process of the destruction of the country started in 1961, when nationalists heard rumblings of unrest and demands for independence and self-determination. The fall of the government in Portugal on April 25, 1974 marked the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Africa and Angola in particular. The Angolan people were rejoicing and the three movements that led the struggle for liberation formed the transitional government. People believed that after democratic elections the country would become a nation of peace, freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, the light of these happy dreams and inspirations, was soon dimmed by the intervention of Russians and Cubans on the side of MPLA.
The cloud of anguish and despair hung over Angola day and night. "Through all these years Angola "had become a hell for the African people - a land of anguish and torment" (Chikueka 1999:389).
In November 1975, MPLA claimed victory and set up a Marxist regime under the leadership of Agostinho Neto, but UNITA and FNLA continued to battle against the new government. Furthermore, UNITA continued the struggle through guerrilla warfare mainly fought in the outlying bush, rural areas and central southern provinces for the next twenty-six years. From 1989 to 1994, many attempts to end Angola's civil war were made without any success. The first of these is referred to Gbadolite Accords (1989), the second was the Bicesse Accords, signed on May 31st, 1991, in Portugal and the third was the Lusaka Protocol, signed on November 20th, 1994, in Zambia.
The Bicesse Peace Accords led the country to multiparty system and general elections in September 1992 that gave victory to MPLA. These results were denied by UNITA. Jonas Savimbi refused to go to the presidential second round elections. The war broke out, the main battles were carried out in the capitals of provinces, starting from Luanda to the rest parts of Angola. This was the most destructive war. From 4th April, 2002 Angola is experiencing negative peace, because structural violence still there.
Currently as a result of prolonged period of conflict and violence Angolans of all ages are mainly intolerant in their daily lives. There are a lot of disputes in public transport. Last year the Ministry of Woman and family promotion announced about 1.803 cases of domestic violence. Primary and Secondary schools in Luanda and Benguela Provinces are experiencing problems of security, due to high number of assaults with gunfire at schools. The rate of delinquency in the capital city of Angola is too high. Peace is actually expected to increase the number of car hijackings.
In short I would say that Angola is still a violent place. A culture of violence is present in every sector. In the political scene, in the entertainment media, in schools, spiraling levels of crime, road and work accidents and domestic violence.
How Peace education should work in Angola
To be honest there is not any specific peace education program working within the Angolan education system, but some non governmental organizations such as: Centre for the Common Ground -CCG, Development Workshop - DW, Christian Children Fund - CCF, the Angolan Christian Council of Churches - CICA are carrying out workshops, debates and public speeches on conflict resolution and peace building. My colleague and I went to see the Angolan Vice Minister for education system reforms. Our discussion was on the existing education curriculum to find out whether there are subjects relating to peace.
Our finding was that there is a subject called "-moral and civic education-" that can be an entry point to peace education. Furthermore, we were told that there is not any specific peace education curriculum because the ministry of education lacks sources of material on peace to update teachers. This subject among other issues discusses the following themes: Self affirmation, which covers the following: confidence in others and myself, my emotions, my box of values, persons that I admire, my personal journal, freedom and responsibility; Family and friends, covers: the family as a school, the family-its role and social importance, friendship and its importance, conflicts within the family and the Angolan family in the current context; the health of my body, relevance to STD/HIV-AIDS, addictions to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and the physical consequences is given here.
It is said that if you want to build a house you start with the foundation. The moral and civic education subject is only given from 5th to 8th grades, while most children in primary school and those students in high level schools are left out.
Peace education as a subject can be introduced within the existing moral and civic education subjects starting from primary to high schools.
Form PE should take in Angola:
It does not matter whether the approach used to deliver PE is formal or informal. What is imperative is to start doing something in this regard, through which we should shape the personality and character and ethics of our children and young people as well. They should be inspired to have a positive mental attitude, because as Covey (1989:19) argues: "your attitude determines your attitude", "smiling wins more friends than frowning," and whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve".
Thus, PE in Angola should encourage students and parents to engage in personal action and social action in order to transform the current reality characterized by urban violence, intolerance and lack of respect in the public transports, injustice, corruption and so forth. All this should be done in order to have a more just Angola where the building of citizenship and the promotion of peace are a constant and continuous dream to be achieved.
The Angolan formal education system and the NGOs informally should orient PE into ways that incorporate the idea that conflict is a natural and inevitable part of life. In itself, conflict is neither bad nor good. It can be constructive if handled well, destructive if handled poorly. Furthermore, we should create a broader understanding of and PE in a holistic perspective, acknowledging values and skills toward a national peacebuilding network where everyone has something to contribute, and everyone is part of the solution.
I do believe that what goes up will always come down. So, after being a land of so much suffering for the last 27 years of war, Angola can be finally the land of hope and prosperity. Indeed many children have been used to fighting wars, and therefore enter adolescence and young adulthood well trained in a culture of violence. The time has arrived to make them agents of peace.
I am sure that this is no less a task than to rebuild new communities with a new culture of peace. Most importantly, this is not just a concept that needs to be grasped, it is actually a vision, a mission, and a way of life, which requires commitment.
PE initiatives to reverse cultures of violence can promote security and development.
Finally it is my belief that the seeds for building such a culture of peace in Angola can be scattered through peace education and the young generation must be the starting point in order to have a good foundation.
Burns, R and Aspeslagh, R 2002 - Concepts of Peace Education - A view of Western experience, no page reference.
(Harris, G., - CRPS Newsletter N. 8 April 2003, p. 1.
Bar-Tal, D., 2002 - the unique nature of the objectives of Peace education in the elusive nature of peace education, p.2.
Aboagye, C., 2000 - Perspectives on the problems and challenges of ECOWAS Regional security paradigm: the role of the military in the protection of war-affected children in West- in BACKGROUND PAPERS the international conference on war-affected children held in Winnipeg, Canada 10-17 September, 2000, p.1.
Harber, C., 1996 - Educational violence and education for peace in Africa- in PEACEMAKING AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION. Readings Booklet, p 151.
Sathiparsad and Gray, 2002 - Peace education, teaching young people constructive conflict - resolution strategies in PEACEMAKING AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION. Readings Booklet, p 182.
James 2:15,16 - The Holy Bible - New international version
Chikueka Maria, 1999, Angola Torchbearers, p. 389.
Chikueka Maria, 1999, The trail of my life journey, p. 61.
Covey, S., 1989 - The seven habits of highly effective people, p.19.
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