The African continent has been characterized by conflict. The primary cause of these conflicts being the natural resources which Africa is endowed with. Some of the conflicts are along ethnic differences and religious differences. Efforts to ensure that peace prevails on the continent have failed to reach a lasting solution. Violent and non violent means have not afforded the continent the much needed peace. There is however hope that peace education which is a relatively new approach will bring about the much desired peace.
In this paper, the writer will endeavor to analyse the importance of peace education in the African continent and in particular the following three African countries; South Africa, Rwanda and Ghana. This paper will set off by identifying key terms that will guide the discussion and defining them. The background will be given, the theoretical framework informing the paper will be looked at and then the main discussion will follow. Recommendations will be given and last but not least, the conclusion.
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), one of the famous philosophers in second half of 17th century gave his point of view on peace that peace was not an absence of war, it was a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence and justice. He gave importance to a virtue and a state of mind. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) emphasized peace in the sense of a state of mind. Here is his view is that peace is not a relationship of nations.
It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people. According to Johan Gultung, Norwegian peace scholar, the term peace and violence are linked. Peace is the absence of violence and should be used as the social goal. Gultung further stated that like a coin peace has two sides: negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace is the absence of personal violence, positive peace is an absence of structural violence or social justice. In this paper the writer will be aligned to Galtung’s definition of peace.\nPeace
Peace education is very broad and an attempt to define it casually might leave out the most important aspects of the definition. Staehr (1974) posits that peace education the initiation of learning processes aiming at the actualization and rational resolution of conflicts regarding man as subject of action. Mushakoji, (1974) posits that peace education is concerned with peace less situations which include struggles for power and resources, ethnic conflicts in local communities, child abuse, and wars. According to Reardon (1982) peace education is learning intended to prepare the learners to contribute toward the achievement of peace. On the other hand, Fountain (1999) is of the view that peace education as a process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values needed to bring about behavior changes that will enable children, youth, and adults to prevent conflict and violence and to create the conditions conducive to peace whether at an intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, national, or international level. In this paper, the writer will align herself to the definition proffered by Fountain.
Conflict resolution is the process of resolving conflicts in a way that meets the needs of all parties involved in conflict. (Fisher 2009). Resolution aims somehow to get to the root causes of conflict and not merely to treat its episodic or symptomatic manifestation, that is, a particular dispute (Avruch 1998). Burton (1990) points out that conflict resolution is more than reaching an agreement and moving towards re-establishing relationships between the parties. The term conflict resolution will be used in this paper to refer to an informal or formal process that two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute.
Conflict Transformation refers to the transformation of conflicts to peaceful outcomes. It recognizes that contemporary conflicts require more than reframing of positions and the identification of win-win outcomes (Miall 2004). It is therefore a process of engaging with and transforming the relationships, interests, discourses and, if necessary, the very constitution of society that supports the continuation of violent conflict. According to Faucon (2001), Conflict Transformation is seen as a generic, comprehensive term referring to the actions and processes seeking to alter the various characteristics and manifestations of violent conflict by addressing the root causes of a particular conflict over the long-term. The Institute for Conflict Transformation and Peace building (ICP) outlines that Conflict Transformation does not seek to resolve the contradiction on a conflict setting, rather, it aims at addressing structural and root causes by challenging injustices and restoring human relations and it deals with the ethical and value-based dimensions. Therefore, the term refers to both the processes and the completion of the processes, as such; it incorporates the activities of processes such as conflict prevention and conflict resolution and goes further than conflict settlement or conflict management.
According to Navarro and Nario (2008) humankind needs to take lessons from its past in order to build a new and better tomorrow. One lesson learnt is that to prevent our violence-ridden history from repeating itself, the values of peace, non violence, tolerance, human rights and democracy will have to be inculcated in every woman and man, young and old, children and adults alike. This can be achieved through peace education. Before looking at the importance of peace education, the writer will look at how it has evolved over the years in the world over and in turn narrow it down to its evolution in the African continent before zeroing in on its importance in the continent.
Lawson (1989) is of the view that peace education started with Comenius in the seventeenth century and his belief in a unity based knowledge that aimed to bring people together. However, Grossi (2000) opines that peace education started in the early nineteenth century when the peace movement began to form organizations. The end of World War I (1914–1918) brought powerful support for the need for international cooperation and understanding and helped instill a desire to include these ideas in educational systems. The League of Nations and a number of nongovernmental organizations worked together on these ideas, especially through the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, an organization that was the predecessor of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Harris (2008) concurs with Gross and also posits that the modern peace movement began in nineteenth century Europe with many intellectual efforts to learn about violent conflict, evolving into socialist political thought, and spreading to the United States and elsewhere before World War I. Scholars then began to study war and started trying to educate the public about its dangers. More and more people tried to persuade each other and their governments to use mediation instead of war to solve international conflicts. World War II (1939–1945) ended with millions of victims and the frightening use of atomic weapons against Japan, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1946 UNESCO was founded as an umbrella institution of the United Nations, and it was charged with planning, developing, and implementing general changes in education according to the international politics of peace and security. The statute of this organization reinforced the principle of the role of education in the development of peace, and a framework was created for including and applying the principles of peace in the general world education systems.
According to the UNESCO Constitution (1945), since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defense of peace must be constructed. This enhanced peace education as organization started school projects based on international understanding. This progress was however stalled during the Cold War as it was deemed a questionable project, and some nations left the cooperation (Pikas 1987). An important decree concerning education and international education were elaborated by UNESCO in 1974. During the following years some conferences were held where education on human rights (1978) and disarmament (1980) were central issues. The peace movement began concentrating on stopping the threat of nuclear war, halting the arms race, and encouraging disarmament. These events had great impact on the development of peace education (Bjerstedt 1985). During this era, peace education was aimed at creating children and youth who were able to combine knowledge, feelings and agency. The same period also saw the emergence of feminist and gender perspective peace and peace education (Brook-Utne 1989).
Shortly before the end of the Cold War the Environmental education movement influenced peace education. Just before the millennium there was another shift with concern over such matters as bullying in schools resulted in the development of conflict resolution courses and programs, providing useful skills on conflict handling both for teachers, students and younger pupils, but also useful for fostering in a disciplinary way (Synott 2005). It is on this basis that the field and the themes that are included in peace education are diverse. Within the field of peace education, one can find a variety of issues, ranging from violence in schools to international security and cooperation, from the conflict between the developed world and the undeveloped world to peace as the ideal for the future, from the question of human rights to the teaching of sustainable development and environmental protection. \nIn Africa, conflicts have taken different directions, with traces of inequality of power and status, others are protracted, erupting into violence and thus defy most of existing conflict management cycles. Mwagiru (2004) observes that protracted conflicts disrupt the societies, economies, and regions in which they occur, thus creating complex emergencies fueled by internal and external as internalization of conflict. The need to bring an end to conflict in the continent has shifted the focus to peace education amongst other things.
Peace education in Africa and the world over is not a new discipline. It has been in existence for as long as humanity itself. Humanity has always found ways of coexisting peacefully with each other based on religious doctrines or laws and rules established to govern the land. The African tradition has always emphasised the peaceful existence in the community. Since the creation of the United Nations in 1946, there have been increased efforts towards maintenance of peace in the international community. Treaties, Conventions, and at times ransom have been offered to foster peace. The United Nations has with time come up with initiatives that focus on peace education enhanced by the initiative of peace building. The formation of UNESCO by the United Nation saw the introduction of the six pillars of peace education, as a way of fostering peace and harmony amongst people.
Peace education in Africa has its origin in Burundi 1994 (Baxter 2006). Other states followed suit the implementation of the same in their countries. UNICEF led regional workshops in 1996 and 1997 to encourage countries to take up Peace Education as part of School‘s curriculum. This was a way of encouraging schools to design Peace Education programmes. In Africa, peace education was designed to focus on structural violence, human rights and economic inequalities or development education. UNESCO designed a short-lived peace education program for Somalia in 1998 based on the culture of peace cognitive approach due to the nature of its conflicts. By the year 2000, the UNHCR came up with Peace Education Programme (PEP) which was being piloted in refugee camps across eight countries: Liberia, Guinea, DRC, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and Tanzania and Kenya. The program had a twofold approach, a school program and a community targeted program. As an ongoing exercise, the Global UNHCR continued to support the program in refugee camps until 2005 (Shaw 2008).
This paper is informed by the Integrative Theory of Peace which is founded on the concept that peace is a psychological, social, political, ethical and spiritual state with expressions at intrapersonal, intergroup and international areas of human life. The integrative theory as espoused by Danesh (2006) takes a comprehensive or holistic view of peace. It maintains that peace, as in all other human states of nature; results from three basic inferences which are; cognitive (knowing), emotive (loving), and choosing abilities. These ultimately influence the nature of the worldview of an individual. The integrative theory of peace projects peace as encompassing the interface between all aspects of human life, whether from the psychological, spiritual, ethical, or the sociopolitical paradigm (Danesh, 2006).
The foundation of the integrative theory of peace is comprises three core concepts: unity, worldview, and human individual and collective development. The integrative theory of peace as proposed by Danesh (2006) recognizes unity as the primary law underpinning all human relationships with conflict denoting the absence of unity. This perspective tallies with the conclusions of Harris (2004) that peace education consists of different aspects, which are compatible and complimentary to each other. These elements ultimately include but are not limited to human rights education, development education, and conflict resolution education. Thus in brief, this theory states that all human states of being are the outcome of the human cognitive, emotive, and connotative capacities which determine the nature of our world view. It draws from issues of psychological development and peace education (the emphasis of this paper). This theory further asserts that peace has its roots in satisfying human need for survival, safety and security, in a quest for freedom, justice and interconnectedness. Peace is the ultimate outcome of transition from self-centered and anxiety ridden insecurities of survival to a universal and all inclusive state of awareness of our humanity. Therefore, peace education has a role to play in shaping the worldview of the people in as far as peace is concerned.