Peace Education should and can be used to teach people those cultural values, norms and virtues that are significant and relevant for the survival of mankind on this planet through peaceful co-existence. And that without peace there cannot be prosperity and this is only possible if there is that respect, acceptance, open-mindedness and empathy for others who need help.
In the author’s opinion the definition of Peace Education is tough to make but one has to be particular to pin down within which context the definition emanates.
When one takes the African context it the writer’s opinion that Peace Education cannot disregard environmental threats such as global warming which has in the last years affected most parts of the world. To educate people about the causes of global warming and create strategies to minimize and eventually neutralized it’s deadly effects to man, animals and plants on this planet, can be a way to the achievement of economic growth, political stability and a healthy population living side by side peacefully among themselves and their neighbors.
Peace is the most ancient item on the agenda of humanity. The old idea of peace sees it as synonymous to stability, decorum or equilibrium. This conception of peace is also used to refer to internal states of being, that is, a person being at peace with himself. The simplest and the most widespread understanding of peace was that of absence of violence, disorderliness, death and destruction as a result of conflict, unrest or war Thee (1982).
(Oyebamiji 2011) viewed peace generally to connote a state of quietness, calm, tranquility, freedom from war and concord of ideas among different people.\nThe fourth edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of current English lexically defines peace as ‘state of freedom from war or violence’. Peace connotes a period where a nation, community, country or even family witnesses a state of freedom from violence, war or any form of breakdown, dis-quietness or uproar in the community. The French thinker Raymond Aron defined peace as a condition of more or less lasting suspension of violent modes of rivalry between politico-economic units Barash (1999). Some thinkers conceived of it as simply a lack of war or a no-violence situation and the eradication of all facets of injustices Cheng & Kurtz (1998).
In some instances, peace is categorized into two broad forms as negative and positive peace. Negative peace refers to the absence of direct violence. Positive peace refers to the absence of indirect and structural violence, and is the concept that most peace and conflict researchers adopt in studies of peace and security in recent years Galtung & Jacobson (2000).
The writer accosts to the thinking that peace not only entails the absence of war but also includes the existence of social norms like human rights which guarantee the existence of peace. This bedrock of peace education is mainly premised on these two aspects and if the true essence of peace education is achieved then there will be maintenance of peace and stability in Africa.
Education is the process of transmitting knowledge, societal norms and values to people in a society. Education has been seen as a potential tool for effecting personal and national development. This is because education brings about sustainable changes that are required for achieving sustainable development. Jimoh (2003) puts it that, “Education is the activities and experiences put together to assist the all-round development of the student as an individual and as a member of society. It is to help him to think clearly and independently in fields of knowledge and experiences outside his narrow specialization and also to assist him to gain an understanding of people and of the society in which he lives.”
In UNICEF, peace education is succinctly defined as the process of promoting the knowledge skills, attitude and values needed to bring about behavior change that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural to resolve conflict peacefully and to create the conditions conducive to peace whether at an interpersonal, intergroup, national or international level.
Peace education or an education that promotes a culture of peace is essentially transformative. It cultivates the knowledge base skills, attitudes and values that seek to transform people’s mindsets, attitudes and behaviors that in the first place have either created or exacerbated violent conflicts. It seeks this transformation by building awareness and understanding, developing concern and challenging personal and social action that will enable people to live, relate and create conditions and systems that actualize nonviolence, justice, environmental care and other peace values.
The writer is of the view that peace education is the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself with others and with the natural environment.
Culture of peace is a phrase used in describing a situation where people’s mindset and orientation would be tailored towards peaceful social relationship irrespective of the differences between or among the people. Culture of peace is a much desired situation whereby people promote peaceful way of life. This could be ultimately achieved by continuous and formidable peace education among the people. On nurturing culture of peace (Sommerfelt& Vambheim 2008) write that culture of peace requires that citizens contain their aggression and be tolerant with one another, exhibit cooperative behavior and avoid situations whereby ethno-religious or class differences would lead to conflicts and violence. The essence of the culture of peace is adequately encapsulated in the definition provided by the (United Nations 1999) as, “a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behavior and ways of life based on respect for life, ending of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence through dialogue and cooperation…promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms…commitment to peaceful settlements of conflicts…efforts to meet the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations… respect for and promotion of equal rights and opportunities for women and men.”
Therefore it can be said that the culture of peace if adequately instilled in society then peace would prevail.
Throughout history humans have taught each other conflict resolution techniques to avoid violence. Peace education is the process of teaching people about the threats of violence and strategies for peace. Peace educators try to build consensus about what peace strategies can bring maximum benefit to a group. Peace education activities that attempt to end violence and hostilities can be carried out informally within communities or formally within institutional places of learning, like schools or colleges. Peace education has been practiced informally by generations of humans who want to resolve conflicts in ways that do not use deadly force. Indigenous peoples have conflict resolution traditions that have been passed down through millennia that help promote peace within their communities. Rather than killing each other over their disputes, they employ nonviolent dispute mechanisms that they hand down from generation to generation through informal peace education activities. Anthropologists have located on this planet at least 47 relatively peaceful societies (Banta, 1993). Although there are no written records, human beings throughout history have employed community-based peace education strategies to preserve their knowledge of conflict resolution tactics that promote their security. More formal peace education relies upon the written word or instruction through schooling institutions.
Peace education not only has biblical origins but also it can be found in One of the first Europeans who used the written word to espouse peace education was Comenius (1642/1969), the Czech educator who in the seventeenth century saw that universally shared knowledge could provide a road to peace. This approach to peace assumes that an understanding of others and shared values will overcome differences that lead to conflict. The ultimate goal of education was a world in which men and women would live in harmony with acceptance of diverse cultures.
The Flower-Petal Model of Peace Education is the framework that could be used for forming and implementing peace education programs. This model of peace education is reflected upon from the work of (Toh 2004). In this model, peace as a phenomenon is seen as a ‘flower petal’ something needful, beautiful at the same time very fragile, frail and delicate. So as a result of these dilemma characteristics, it should be treated with utmost care and should be given highest priority in the realm of things in all human societies. In other words, attainment of peace in the society should be a priority and be placed at the center regarding human social existence. The Flower-Petal model has six categories in which attainment of culture of peace is given the utmost importance.