Universal Children’s Day 2015 – Stop Violence Against Children

The date 20 November marks the day on which the Assembly adopted theDeclaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

The Convention, which is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, sets out a number of children’s rights including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence, to not be discriminated, and to have their views heard.


Of course children can be anything -but are they all given the opportunities to meet that goal?

Some children only know violence – and being so young they start to believe that this is normal -being beaten at home, bullied at school, caught in the crossfire, watching their parents being murdered in front of them. This is no start for children and it should not be normal!

Education has to be threat – free -no corporal punishment or humiliation -this does not help children learn.

Arms manufacturers and dealers should face the children that they are determined to injure, maim and kill -stare into their eyes while they make their deals and promote their ‘products’! When will we ever learn?


Emerging Practices for DM&E in Education for Peacebuilding Programming
Search for Common Ground

Practical Guide  

Search for Common Ground, in partnership with UNICEF, is very excited to announce the launch of the Emerging Practices in Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Education for Peacebuilding Programming Guide, a step forward in bridging the gap of designing M&E systems for education for peacebuilding programming. The Guide presents critical information, practical tips, resources and tools for all stages in program cycles to help capture and assess education for peacebuilding’s potential impact and contribution to sustainable, transformative change.”

Click here to download the Guide.










HRW Report on Barriers to Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Turkey
Human Rights Watch 

Prior to the conflict, the primary school enrollment rate in Syria was 99 percent and lower secondary school enrollment was 82 percent, with high gender parity. Today, nearly 3 million Syrian children inside and outside the country are out of school, according to UNICEF estimates—demolishing Syria’s achievement of near universal education before the war.This report is the first of a three-part series addressing the urgent issue of access to education for Syrian refugee schoolchildren in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon.The series will examine the various barriers preventing Syrian children from accessing education and call on host governments, international donors, and implementing partners to mitigate their impact in order to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children.

This report is primarily based on research conducted in June 2015 in Istanbul, Izmir, Turgutlu, Gaziantep, Mersin, and Ankara. Human Rights Watch interviewed non-camp Syrian refugee families to assess their educational situations. We focused on non-camp refugees because of the low rate of enrollment among non-camp refugees in comparison to the high rate inside camps.

Click here to download the full report.



High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini and Commissioners Mimica, Stylianides and Jourová on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day:

We are finally entering the much anticipated post-2015 era: leaders from all over the world have committed to goals which shall improve the lives of millions of children. Had we achieved all the goals we had previously set, our task today would be much easier. In fact, the road ahead is still very long. The post-2015 must be different. We must act more decisively and consistently than ever, to make sure that in the next fifteen years we will truly turn the page. Let us aim high, and try to build a world that does not need a post-2030 Agenda. 

Strengthening child protection systems is one of our priorities, as outlined in the new EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy. We have launched a diplomatic outreach with a global focus on all forms of violence against children and women and a focus on ending child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting.

While we address long lasting cruel practices, the current refugee crisis and the dire consequences for migrant, refugee and internally displaced children adds a new dimension of urgency. Half of the world refugees are children: they need to be treated first and foremost as children. Their protection and rights, including their right to education and non-discrimination, must be a priority, including within the European borders. Increasing cooperation between child protection systems could improve their protection when they seek asylum status in the EU. Despite the global declining trend in funding, the EU has already increased its commitment to education in emergencies. We cannot afford to have lost generations of children with no or little education.

Protecting child victims of trafficking and sexual or non-sexual exploitation and enhancing cooperation on these issues with non-EU countries and international organizations are part of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking of Human Beings 2012-2016. The EU is also a defender of Fifth Goal of Agenda 2030 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. This week new EU rules on victim’s rights entered into force. Under these new rules children are entitled to special protection as vulnerable victims in all European criminal justice systems.

Promoting children’s rights worldwide requires close cooperation with international organizations and UN bodies. The EU has always promoted such cooperation and keeps reinforcing it. Boys and girls are not only the future of our societies: they are the present. If we deprive them of their fundamental rights, we deprive ourselves of their richness. And we fail in our fundamental duties. Global peace and security cannot be achieved without fair and sustainable development and respect for all the rights of all children. One day they will be adults.  The way we protect our world and our children will impact on how they will protect their own world and their own children, in a not-so-distant future.”


see also https://rayharris57.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/universal-childrens-day-20th-november-2012/ for resources

Still under attack…education

INEE has promoted new reports on evidence that education is continually under attack. As mentioned before (personal comment not INEE)  education should at least benefit from a tax on weapons producers ,likened to ‘polluter pays’ arguments. A weapons producer should be taxed at a rate that allows a fund to be raised to ameliorate the effect on children who suffer from the profits made by arms manufacturers.Auseful discussion to have on the International day of Peace!

Schools under Attack in Syria
Global Education Cluster

Since February 2015, the Southern Turkey Education Cluster partner organisations have been reporting to the cluster staff attacks on the schools they are supporting or located in the areas where they are implementing activities. The Southern Turkey Education Cluster is releasing its first monitoring report Schools under Attack in Syria which provides a snapshot of the situation of schools in Syria. The report does not provide an exhaustive list of all attacks on schools which took place in the first half of 2015, but it highlights the devastating consequences of such attacks on Syrian children’s right to education.

Click here to read the full report


Education under Attack in Syria
Save the Children

More than half of all attacks on schools in the last four years have occurred in Syria, according to analysis by Save the Children. Between 2011 and the end of 2014, the UN Secretary General reported 8,428 attacks on schools in 25 countries, with 52% of these reported to have taken place in Syria. Since the start of 2015, Save the Children research has documented at least 32 attacks in Syria, but lack of access to many areas means the total number is likely to be much higher. This new Save the Children study brings to light how schools inside Syria have been indiscriminately bombed, destroyed, commandeered by armed groups, or turned into weapons caches or torture centers.

Click here to read the full report.


Education under Fire

A new report by UNICEF Education under Fire focuses on conflict and political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa and its impact on education. Over 13 million children are prevented from going to school due to direct or indirect conflict in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, State of Palestine, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The report focuses on some of the barriers to education caused by conflict including attacks on schools and education infrastructure, fear of safety keeping parents from sending their children to school, overburdened education systems, lack of security for teachers, high costs of schooling and curriculum and certification issue.

Click here to read the full report.


Education and Armed Non-State Actors: Towards a comprehensive agenda
Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC)

This background paper prepared by Jonathan Somer of Persona Grata Consulting has been commissioned by PEIC to inform and orient the deliberations of the Workshop on Education and Armed Non-State Actors (Geneva, 23-25 June 2015) organized by PEIC and Geneva Call. I believe that the background paper is a pioneering work that lays out for the first time a clear frame of reference for better understanding the role of ANSAs in the provision of education. The background paper combines consideration of the international normative framework with strategic and operational issues that affect not only ANSAs themselves but also international actors concerned with education in situations of emergency, conflict and insecurity. Key questions are posed that constitute an agenda for both reflection and action.

Click here to download the full paper.

Hear It From the Children

Any opportunity to hear children speak about their situation and how it could be improved, is worth listening to…..

Hear It From the Children
Save the Children INTERSOS, World Vision International and CARE

‘Hear It From The Children’ provides a fascinating insight into what children from communities that have been most affected by the South Sudan conflict consider to be their top priorities. A clear message has emerged from the children, and it is that, “…we want to learn – even during war.” It is a simple but powerful message that challenges us all to re-think how we can best respond to children’s needs in times of conflict.

Click here to download the report.
and another opportunity to be aware of young people’s concerns and ‘solutions’…
PODCAST #100 – Brightest Hope

Podcast – International Peace Day: Education provides hope for young people in time of crisis

While conflicts rage, and global crises seem to multiply, one thing remains unchanged – children continue to seek an education.

To highlight the bravery of these inspiring young people, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and UN Global Education First Initiative held an essay competition on education in crisis, receiving more than 700 submissions from around the world. Twelve of these essays were recently published in a booklet entitled: The Brightest Hope.

In the lead up to the International Day of Peace (21 September), UNICEF podcast moderator Mia Lobel spoke with two students and young essayists: Ivy Kimtai, 21, from the Mount Elgon region of Kenya and Jephthah Temona, 19, from Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Arms and the man – a tale of hope or continuing disaster?



The landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), regulating the international trade in conventional arms – from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships – will enter into force on 24 December 2014.

This is indeed a landmark treaty and has taken more than a decade to get this far – but should we question it?

Rather than limiting distribution of these arms, but still developing and producing, shouldn’t we be starting the process of demilitarisation of the planet?

Shouldn’t we have a treaty that puts considerable limits on the arms actually being produced?

Should not arms companies be subject to an international peace tax – to provide support to all those damaged by this trade? This would be similar to the argument about ‘polluter pays’ for companies who flout international environmental standards.  It always seems so chaotic for agencies such as UNHCR to try to manage the aftermath of conflict – having to put out begging bowls to support those in refugee camps.

It seems to be an obscenity, in these times,  to have ‘Arms Fairs’ as if they are a celebration of the ‘biggest and best’.

Educationally, perhaps the issues around the Arms Trade need to be woven in to our curricula – whether it is taken as an ethics/moral/philosophical stance or a business and economics stance -all subjects can be informed by statistics, evidence and documentation to allow young people to have an informed discussion and have opportunities to develop skills of future problem solving.

This is what the UN says about Arms Trade regulation:

Working to improve lives and livelihoods around the world, the United Nations system is directly confronted with the impact of the absence of regulations or lax controls on the arms trade. Those suffering most are civilian populations trapped in situations of armed violence in settings of both crime and conflict, often in conditions of poverty, deprivation and extreme inequality, where they are all too frequently on the receiving end of the misuse of arms by State armed and security forces, non-State armed groups and organized criminal groups.

Adoption of the treaty by the UN General Assembly
The Arms Trade Treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013

Inadequate controls on arms transfers have led to widespread availability and misuse of weapons. One serious consequence: the disruption of life-saving humanitarian and development operations because of attacks against staff of the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations. In many areas of work, the United Nations faces serious setbacks that ultimately can be traced to the consequences of the poorly regulated arms trade. We see weapons pointed at us while maintaining international peace and security, in promoting social and economic development, supporting peacekeeping operations, peacebuilding efforts, monitoring sanctions and arms embargoes, delivering food aid or helping internally displaced persons and refugees, protecting children and civilians, promoting gender equality or fostering the rule of law. That is why the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty is so significant for the UN system as a whole.

Some documents to peruse while considering the range of issues around the Arms Trade:

Protecting civilians and humanitarian action through the ATT (ICRC)
Link to document
How to apply human rights standards to arms transfer decisions (Amnesty International)
Link to document
Practical guide: Applying Sustainable Development to Arms-Transfer Decisions (Oxfam)
Link to document
National Implementation of the proposed Arms Trade Treaty: A Practical Guide (Oxfam)
Link to document
Academy briefing No.3 The Arms Trade Treaty (2013)
Link to document
Arms Trade Treaty model law (Government of New Zealand, Small Arms Survey)
The Arms Trade Treaty Baseline Assessment Project (ATT-BAP) (Stimson Centre)
Link to homepage

Human Rights Council Resolution: Impact of arms transfers on human rights in armed conflicts

The impact of poorly regulated arms transfers on the work of the United Nations (UNODA Occasional Paper No. 23)

link to document


While the world seems always to be preparing for war (or as defense as some would have us believe) it is worth considering the efforts needed to ‘learn for peace’ and learn to build peaceful futures:

Learning for Peace

‘Learning for Peace’ – the four-year Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme – is a partnership between UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands, the national governments of 14 participating countries and other key supporters. It is an innovative, cross-sectoral programme focusing on education and peacebuilding.

The programme focuses on five key outcomes:

  • Outcome one: increase inclusion of education into peacebuilding and conflict reduction policies, analyses and implementation.
  • Outcome two: increase institutional capacities to supply conflict-sensitive education.
  • Outcome three: increase the capacities of children, parents, teachers and other duty bearers to prevent, reduce and cope with conflict and promote peace.
  • Outcome four: increase access to quality and relevant conflict-sensitive education that contributes to peace.
  • Outcome five: contribute to the generation and use of evidence and knowledge in policies and programming related to education, conflict and peacebuilding.

Fourteen countries have been selected across East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, and West and Central Africa.

To learn more, please click here.

The Classroom: A Place for Inner Peace Education

The Classroom: A Place for Inner Peace Education
Gloria María Abarca Obregón, Mexico
I have been a primary school teacher for 12 years and strangely enough I always wanted to be one. I love being a teacher and thanks to my job, I have had the opportunity to be in many diverse encounters and meet the most different people. This is how I experience being a teacher, and above all, how I experience being a human who, through education, found a way of teaching, learning and living, where peace and education go hand in hand. It has become not only a teaching style, but a personal philosophy and a lifestyle.
I wish to share with you my lived experiences in the classroom of a public primary school in Mexico, with the goal of giving a voice to my own real experiences of inner peace. As a teacher, I want to share with other teachers all around the world what is possible to achieve through this transformative approach.
To read the full post, please download here.
To download Spanish version, please click here.
teachwithout brders

If wars begin in the human mind, then it is through our minds – through education – that war can be vanquished by peace. At Teachers Without Borders, we believe that teachers can lead the way towards peace in their classrooms and communities. Our Peace Education Program is designed to help them in this pursuit. By providing teachers with a framework for peace education, we are contributing to the growing movement towards a global culture of peace.

Teachers Without Borders’ Introduction to Peace Education is a teacher professional development course that explores peace education in theory and practice. In addition to offering the course as an onsite workshop in various contexts around the world, we make it available as a free download or a free self-paced online course.

Learn More:

A note about the UN’s approaches to Peace Education:

In 1945, the United Nations was established to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, “to reaffirm faith in the …dignity and worth of the human person [and] in the equal rights of men and women”, “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”, and “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”. (
Preamble to the UN Charter  outside link)

Peace education has developed as a means to achieve these goals. It is education that is “directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”. It promotes “understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups” and furthers “the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.” (Article 26, Universal Declaration of Human Rights  outside link)

In other words, peace education is an integral part of the work of the United Nations. Through a humanising process of teaching and learning, peace educators facilitate human development. They strive to counteract the dehumanisation of poverty, prejudice, discrimination, rape, violence, and war. Originally aimed at eliminating the possibility of global extinction through nuclear war, peace education currently addresses the broader objective of building a culture of peace. In this global effort, progressive educators world-wide are teaching the values, standards and principles articulated in fundamental UN instruments such as the UN Charter  outside link, Human Rights documents, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)  outside link, the Convention on the Rights of the Child  outside link (CRC), the World Declaration on Education for All, and many others.

UNICEF and UNESCO are particularly active advocates of education for peace. UNICEF describes peace education as schooling and other educational initiatives that:

• Function as ‘zones of peace’, where children are safe from violent conflict
• Uphold children’s basic rights as outlined in the CRC
• Develop a climate that models peaceful and respectful behaviour among all members of the learning community
• Demonstrate the principles of equality and non-discrimination in administrative policies and practices
• Draw on the knowledge of peace-building that exists in the community, including means of dealing with conflict that are effective, non-violent, and rooted in the local culture
• Handle conflicts in ways that respect the rights and dignity of all involved
• Integrate an understanding of peace, human rights, social justice and global issues throughout the curriculum whenever possible
• Provide a forum for the explicit discussion of values of peace and social justice
• Use teaching and learning methods that stress participation, Cupertino, problem-solving and respect for differences
• Enable children to put peace-making into practice in the educational setting as well as in the wider community
• Generate opportunities for continuous reflection and professional development of all educators in relation to issues of peace, justice and rights. (Peace Education in UNICEF Working Paper Series, July 1999)

Much of the work of UNESCO is centred on the promotion of education for peace, human rights, and democracy. The notion of a “culture of peace” was first elaborated for UNESCO at the International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men, held at Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, in 1989. The Yamoussoukro Declaration called on UNESCO to ‘construct a new vision of peace by developing a peace culture based on the universal values of respect for life, liberty, justice, solidarity, tolerance, human rights and equality between women and men’ and to promote education and research for a this vision. (UNESCO and a Culture of Peace, UNESCO Publishing, 1995)

Underlying all of this work in the field of peace education are the efforts of committed educators, researchers, activists, and members of global civil society. Acting in partnership with the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), educational institutions, and citizen networks have advanced education for peace by linking ideals with extensive research and practice. The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century (UN Document: Ref A/54/98  outside link), is a significant example of such work. One of the first principles of this document is the necessity of instituting systematic education for peace. According to the Agenda, their Global Campaign for Peace Education aims to “support the United Nations Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World and to introduce peace and human rights education into all educational institutions, including medical and law schools.”

“A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems, have the skills to resolve conflicts and struggle for justice non-violently, live by international standards of human rights and equity, appreciate cultural diversity, and respect the Earth and each other. Such learning can only be achieved with systematic education for peace.” -Hague Appeal for Peace Global Campaign for Peace Education

The International Peace Research Association, founded with support from UNESCO, has a Peace Education Commission that brings together educators working to promote a culture of peace. The Peace Education Network, based in London, also works alongside the UN in promoting peace through education. Overall, the participation of global civil society in building a culture of peace is essential. Get connected!

Framework and Rationale
Many teachers are already practising peace education without calling it by name. Historically, in various parts of the world, peace education has been referred to as Education for Conflict Resolution, International Understanding, and Human Rights; Global Education; Critical Pedagogy; Education for Liberation and Empowerment; Social Justice Education; Environmental Education; Life Skills Education; Disarmament and Development Education; and more. These various labels illuminate the depth and diversity of the field. Using the term peace education helps co-ordinate such global initiatives and unite educators in the common practice of educating for a culture of peace.

Because the year 2000 is the International Year for the Culture of Peace  outside link (UN Doc A/RES/52/15) and the period 2001-2010 is the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (UN Doc A/RES/53/25), the UN Cyberschoolbus Peace Education site joins the global movement  outside link to build and sustain a culture of peace through education.

Some more reading and resources for studying and implementing peace education:

            Education for human rights…young people talking (DVD), UNESCO: 2011.

Teaching the transatlantic slave trade: achievements, challenges and perspectives, UNESCO, 2011.

World development report 2011: conflict security and development, World Bank: 2011.

Education under attack, 2010: a global study on targeted political and military violence against education staff, students, teachers, union and government officials, aid workers and institutions, UNESCO, Paris: 2010.

Davies L. and Bentrovato D, Understanding education’s role in fragility Synthesis of four situational analyses of education and fragility: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Liberia, IIEP, 2011.

The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education, EFA Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO, 2011.

Smith A, The Influence of education on conflict and peace building, Background paper for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011, 2010.

UNESCO Guidebook on Textbook Analysis and Textbook Revision, UNESCO/ GEORG ECKERT INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL TEXTBOOK RESEARCH, Paris/Braunschweig: 2010.

Guidebook for planning in emergencies and reconstruction, IIEP, 2010.

Davies L, Think piece on education and conflict, Think piece prepared for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011, 2009.

Opportunities for change, Education innovation and reform during and after conflict, Ed. By S. Nicolai, UNESCO IIEP, Paris: 2009.

Brochure on UNESCO’s Work on Education for Peace and Non-Violence – Building Peace through Education (ED-2008/WS/38), English, Paris: 2008.

Expert meeting: stopping violence in schools. What works? Report, 2007.

A Human Rights-based Approach to Education for All, UNESCO/UNICEF, New York: 2007.

UNESCO Guidelines on Intercultural Education, UNESCO, Paris: 2006.

Intercultural Understanding and Human Rights Education in the Era of Globalization, APCEIU, 2006.

Margaret Sinclair, Learning to Live Together: Building skills, values and attitudes for the 21st Century, UNESCO/IBE, Geneva: 2004.

UNESCO’s Work on Education for Peace and Non-Violence, UNESCO, Paris: 2008.

UNESCO (1996) Learning: The Treasure Within (also known as the Delors Report; Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century).

Redefining the Educational Form: Peace Education through Escuela Nueva

The following article is from the latest newsletter from the Escuela Nueva Foundation

Redefining the Educational Form: Peace Education through Escuela Nueva

Matthias Rüst

Consultant for Peace Education at Fundación Escuela Nueva, Colombia

In his article The Substance of Peace Education, Magnus Haavelsrud makes a case to analyze peace education through the lenses of three major components: form (pedagogy), content and structure. Introducing and relating the three components to each other, he suggests that “some peace educators seem to judge only one or two of the three components as important. Thus, it is not difficult to find peace education projects which are restricted to a change in the content of education.”

The 2011 report “Peace Education: State of the Field and Lessons Learned from USIP Grantmaking“ by the United States Institute for Peace (which was discussed in issue #89 of the GCPE newsletter) seems to follow the same argument. After an introduction defining the general field as such, the three ensuing sections entitled Developing Instructional ContentPreparing a New Cadre of Peace Educators andMainstreaming Peace Education visibly refer to the different dynamics and challenges encountered in terms of content, form and structure, respectively. There seems to be a consensus in analysis that the elaboration of instructional content, apparently the least difficult intervention, has been widely predominant, and that the further development of the field of peace education must go hand in hand with a stronger focus on educational form and organizational structure.

The case of the Escuela Nueva pedagogical model from Colombia is of great interest here. It is not a peace education initiative or project, and actually the term itself has probably not been sufficiently made explicit in its 35 years of existence. Instead, the Escuela Nueva model is a thorough pedagogical reform inspired by the international New School Movement that was designed in 1976 to provide complete primary education as well as increase the quality, equity, and effectiveness of rural Colombian schools.

This pedagogical model is not just like any other initiative that seeks to provide quality education for all. Instead, Escuela Nueva stands out due to a series of significant methodological shifts and innovations. The character of these innovations indicates that, from its beginning, the Escuela Nueva model sought to not only improve but also humanize education, and through this, to humanize society at large and contribute to building a Culture of Peace.

However, instead of “entering” peace education from the content component like many other initiatives, Escuela Nueva’s main pedagogical innovation is a radical redefinition of the educational form, supported by a significantly more peace-enhancing organizational structure. It advocates and implements a participatory methodology that fully transforms the learning process and classroom interaction. The following highly interdependent principles and tools explain the essence of this approach:

Cooperative learning and active, social construction of knowledge: Active, participatory, personalized and cooperative learning in small groups is the centerpiece of the Escuela Nueva methodology. Learning guides, designed and structured to promote dialogue, interaction, as well as individual work, work in pairs and in groups, facilitate the children’s study of the different subjects. There is a focus on the development of processes that helps assure that the knowledge that the students construct is the result of the mental reflection and higher level thinking that has taken place while working on the different group activities. This approach allows the students to participate actively in the acquisition of knowledge, express their own points of view, listen to and respect those of the others, make decisions, develop autonomy and ownership, and discuss and share their knowledge.

Shift in the teacher’s role to guide and facilitate: Collaborative group work and self-paced, child-centered learning requires a new role for the teachers. They are no longer “the source of knowledge” as is the case in conventional schools. Instead, they assume the role of guides and facilitators. This change of role relies, in turn, on the organization of the classroom into small groups and the methodological structure of the guides which foster a learning process based on dialogue and interaction, practice and application. This makes it possible for the student to really be in the center of the educational process and fosters horizontal relationships between the teacher and the students.

Student governments as democracy in practice: Unlike in other educational systems, the student government in the Escuela Nueva model is not merely a representative body; it is a curricular strategy that encourages the students’ affective, social and moral development by means of experiential group activities. The student government carries a lot of responsibility in the management of the daily tasks at school, and solutions for many of the problems, challenges, and difficulties encountered are directly pursued by its diverse committees. In this respect, the student government constitutes a tool for real transformation of school life in the constant search for an ever growing and more sustainable peace and harmony.

These innovations were only possible due to a transformation of teacher training strategies. Without exception, teacher training takes place in participatory workshops that replicate the methodology of the model itself, and their primary objective is to bring about a change of attitude on the part of the teachers. This is shown by the testimony of Carlos Alberto Carmona Lancheros, a teacher in Colombia’s Coffee region: “In my case, I was first teaching in a conventional school, then worked in an office and almost seven years ago started teaching with Escuela Nueva. Today I can say that for no reason I would ever go back to the conventional school model. Using the Escuela Nueva model our work as teachers is truly humane and inclusive. It allows the children to dream of a better world based on their own contributions.”

Through the direct application of the new pedagogical strategy, an alternative understanding of the educational process and the teachers’ role in it is cultivated among the teachers and the principals. The importance of this approach has also been pointed out in the USIP report mentioned before, affirming that “[p]eace education efforts that are solely focused on creating new textbooks and materials miss the critical aspect of the work, which is to prepare educators who themselves model the values of peace and can create a peaceful classroom. The most successful programs are where the mindset of the teacher and the relationships in the learning community are transformed.”1

The Escuela Nueva model, thus, considers peace education not as an “additional subject” at the periphery of the conventional curriculum. Rather, it unlocks empathy and other social skills, promotes peaceful coexistence and an approach to positive peace through its inherent nature. It takes distance from the conventional school that is based on memorization, authoritarianism, and the transmission of information to foment a focus on child-centered learning. This conception permeates all different elements of Escuela Nueva and is the key to the development of peace-enhancing knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behavior.

Several national and international studies have highlighted the strong positive impact of Escuela Nueva on generating peaceful and democratic attitudes and behaviors. Most interestingly, this impact is not only sustainable in time with Escuela Nueva alumni participating with a higher probability in various voluntary organizations or collaborating more constructively with local authorities. It also causes a strong positive effect on the students’ families and communities. Intra-familial violence as a way to punish or reprimand children is being reduced, and parents participate more actively in the organization of committees to resolve problems that affect the community. The model has, thus, also proved very effective for peacebuilding at the community level, using the school as “entry point” into communities suffering from high levels of social or even armed conflict.

The model has been adapted by the Fundación Escuela Nueva to fit the needs of diverse population groups in both rural and urban areas, and has been applied with great success in peaceful as well as non-peaceful contexts. As a result, the Escuela Nueva model has impacted national policy in Colombia. It has also acted as an inspirational model for education reforms worldwide and has been visited by more than 40 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia (see Fundación Escuela Nueva´s website for a list of countries).

Resuming, the Escuela Nueva model yields scientific results not only improving academic achievements, but also generating democratic and peace-enhancing skills, behaviors and attitudes, and has successfully managed to scale up and generate a multiplier effect, both nationally and internationally (to mention only two of the main strategic challenges presented by the USIP report). It incorporates in its design and implementation peace-relevant content, form and structure, thus providing an effective strategy for peace education that successfully addresses the fundamental challenges mentioned in the literature on the subject. The upcoming publication entitled Peace Education in Escuela Nueva will provide many more details about most of the aspects mentioned within this article, especially about the relevant research findings as well as specific success stories in the promotion of a Culture of Peace.

Finally, we have also identified interesting challenges for the development, deepening and expansion of peace education within the Escuela Nueva model. One point refers precisely to the task of making the dimension of peace education more explicit, a long process within which we have only gone some first steps. For this reason Fundación Escuela Nueva seeks to implement several peace education projects, among them a recollection of best practices developed by Escuela Nueva teachers and the elaboration of a peace-focused teacher training tool based on the Escuela Nueva methodology. Beyond that, further research is necessary to identify which elements of Escuela Nueva are the most relevant and effective in contributing to a Culture of Peace. For all these efforts we are actively seeking alliances with other institutions, agencies and international organizations that share our vision and desire to transform education to make it a vehicle for peace and harmony for humankind.

Resources and References:

  • Fundación Escuela Nueva Volvamos a la Gente, Peace Education in Escuela Nueva, by Matthias Rüst, Bogota, Colombia, 2012.
  • HAAVELSRUD, Magnus, The Substance of Peace Education, Department of Education, Norwegian University of Technology and Science, Trondheim, Norway. An earlier version of this paper was published in UNICEF: Development Education School Series, No 6, Geneva, 1979 and in International Educator, Vol 10, No 3, 1995: 29 – 33.
  • USIP, Peace Education: State of the Field and Lessons Learned from USIP Grantmaking, by Mari Fitzduff and Isabella Jean, United States of America, 2011.