TOH SWEE-HIN TO RECEIVE 2000 UNESCO PRIZE FOR PEACE EDUCATION

Paris, September 13 {No. 2000-86} - UNESCO Director-General Koďchiro Matsuura has decided to award the 2000 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education to Professor Toh Swee-Hin, who is of Malaysian origin and whose candidature was submitted by the Philippines. He was designated as the winner of this year's prize on the unanimous recommendation of an international jury which met on September 11 and 12 at Organization Headquarters.

Honourable Mentions have been given to Pierre Weil (France), Christiana Ayoka Mary Thorpe (Sierra Leone), and to the Middle East Children Association (Palestine/Israel) for their "outstanding work in the field of education that mobilizes consciences for the cause of peace and mutual understanding."

In nominating Toh Swee-Hin to receive this year's prize, the jury sought to reward "the candidate's exceptional contribution to the promotion of the ideals of peace and non-violence and for his practical action in favour of peace through the education of a wide range of social actors." Mr Toh was born and grew up in Malaysia, has Australian citizenship and now lives in Canada. A professor and researcher, Mr Toh has helped to pioneer and promote peace education in many countries - such as Uganda, South Africa, Jamaica, Japan and the USA - but above all in Mindanao, Philippines, a site of longstanding armed, social and cultural conflicts. As the Director of the Centre for International Education and Development from 1994 to 1999, Mr Toh was able to integrate peace education into several bilateral educational development projects in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. He has always been very active in numerous international associations, networks and agencies that promote peace education.

Pierre Weil is a psychologist, writer and educator, who in 1987 created the "Fondation Cité de la Paix" whose main function was to establish and manage the "Université Holistique Internationale de Brasilia, UNIPAIX" which was inaugurated in 1988. As Rector of the University, Mr Weil promoted a new transdisciplinary approach to education for peace, combining methods from the East and the West. Through UNIPAIX, Mr Weil's action is being carried out at three levels: sensitization to, training and post-training for education for peace.

Christiana Thorpe started her career as a teacher, to become successively a principal and a religious leader and counsellor. In all these activities, her aim was to spread literacy among women and to promote awareness of their civic and moral rights and responsibilities. As Under-Secretary and Secretary of State for Education, she conducted a new policy introducing radical reforms in the educational system of Sierra Leone. After becoming a member of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE, Kenya), in 1994, she launched the Sierra Leone FAWE Chapter, of which she is the Chairperson.

The Middle East Children Association (MECA) is a non-profit organization established in 1996 jointly by Israeli and Palestinian educators. MECA focuses on the education systems of the two communities and provides teachers and students with a place to explore tolerance, difference, pluralism, human rights, democracy and mutual respect. It conceives new educational projects in which Israelis and Palestinians interact, implements social action projects and organizes forums for cultural exchange, thereby mobilizing consciences for the cause of peace.

The US$25,000 Prize for Peace Education, created in 1980 through a donation from the Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, promotes actions that increase public awareness and mobilize opinion in favour of peace. The prize-giving ceremony will take place on December 11 (6.30 p.m.) at Organization Headquarters.

Previous winners of the Prize include the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Paulo Freire, Brother Roger of Taizé, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Prayudh Payutto, Chiara Lubich and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

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