Overcoming Violence and Conflicts through Peace and Human Rights Education
The spread of Peace Education has resulted in increased awareness of people towards their rights. The aim of this paper is to focus on the role of peaceful methods to overcome violence that were explained in detail in first paper. To narrow the scope of topic and provide in-depth understanding this paper will use examples of situations in which steps were taken to overcome conflicts and were finally successfully implemented in India.
Peace Education is unique in a way that it cannot be taught as other subjects. It is meant to bring reform and should be practically implemented in learners’ lives. It is imperative that youth of society know what is happening around the world and problems that are arising between nation states. They need to know the solutions to these problems and be able to build upon their humanitarian side of empathy, harmony, concord and non-violence. Addressing a conference at Banaras Hindu University in India Dr. Monisha Bajaj said, “To reduce violence and promote the culture of tolerance, harmony and interfaith dialogue, we must provide peace education in schools, universities and family”.
Even though it is very difficult to define Peace Education and its diverse aims, Okamoto (1982) has listed four main objectives that Peace Education is meant to accomplish based on its approach:
1. Peace Education against war: It is based on negative peace, which is known as the absence of war. Even though the world has transcended the era where active wars used to take place, but learners should be made aware of the wars that have already taken place, reason why they had happened and the level of destruction that were caused as a result of those. Also it is necessary that they know, if ever a third world war is to happen, it will destroy the entire world due to highly sophisticated weapons of mass destruction (nuclear and atomic).
2. Peace Education for Liberation: It is based on positive peace where changes bring about reform in learners’ lives. Liberation from oppression, poverty, harassment, torture, dependence etc. leading towards a life of economic independence, self-sufficiency and indiscrimination.
3. Peace Education as a Learning Process. It focuses on an inter-personal level for building peace through critical thinking.
4. Peace Education as Lifestyle movements. It focuses on being aware of one’s presence in the society and taking responsibility for own actions and their impact on the community. It tends to focus on a more spiritual level by promoting simple living, high thinking and personal growth. It is just an extension of the third kind where the learning process leads to actual implementation.
These approaches were defined about three decades but they have still formed the basis for the present human rights education. Tibbitts (2002) has taken these basic approaches to the next level by defining the contemporary models for human rights education. First, Values and Awareness Model aims at building values and consciousness towards human rights by public campaigns or school curriculum. Second, Accountability Model takes it to the legal level in more serious situations of violations when someone must take accountability for the flaw and work towards making a change. Third, Transformational Model is based on empowering the individual and society (sometimes in post-conflict situations) to fight for their own rights and bring transformation for them.
Peace and Human Rights Education started bringing a transformation in India with its inception in 1997. It was introduced by the efforts of Institute of Human Rights Education (IHRE) and continues to be effective in 18 Indian states and in more than 3500 schools. HRE has brought reforms at different levels in India starting from household to community and it has seen the learners at the center of these transformations (Bajaj, 2012). With the advent of HRE in Tamil Nadu, boys have started becoming more aware of gender differences and understand how their sisters should be treated just like they are in terms of getting equal food to eat, going to school etc. They have also started taking part in household chores like cleaning dishes and mopping the floor. Another girl in the same village expressed her desire to dance publically to her parents and it was shunned at first but she used her awareness of human rights and stood up for herself. Everyone later appreciated her for her performance. In another instance, students brought reform for getting good mid-day school meals and having stood up for their right was a step taken towards achieving clean food and water in school. Another girl prevented her child-marriage by reporting to the police how getting her married at a nascent age was violating her rights. These are small reforms that have taken place in India with the help of HRE but it just shows that people are starting to become aware of their rights as human beings. They know what they deserve and no longer take what inferior quality stuff is provided to them.
According to a survey conducted by Bajaj (2011) in response to the question “What impact, if any, has HRE had on you?” over 60% related to having changes in their personal perspective, 30% advocated for human rights by community education, another 30% intervened in abuse, 15% reported abuse to the law makers and around 10% provided material assistance.
It is very important to have a voice in this unjust world where people are trying to gain personal gains in any way possible. The old customs need to be changed for the new world and to be able to be respected globally; we must treat all human beings equally irrespective of their caste, creed, color or economic status.
NOTE: I have used Human Rights Education and Peace Education interchangeably due to my clear ignorance of how to yet separate them. It does not refer to one or the other specific kind since I treat them both equally.
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