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Teaching peace: Civil society peace education programmes in South Asia

By Anupama Srinivasan

, by Infochange

Several peace education programmes across South Asia, from the Peace Museum in Karachi to the Sita School near Bangalore, are initiating processes that incorporate ideas of peace and non-violence. But they are fighting for space within the mainstream education system and tend to be confined to private schools, writes Anupama Srinivasan.

We know this about peace education in South Asia: there are many peace education programmes, particularly in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; those who initiated them were motivated by many different factors that inevitably intersect between the personal and the political and include both their individual and collective histories; peace education programmes are as much about and for the trainers as they are for the trainees or students; there are several qualified, well-intentioned educators eager to expand the boundaries of learning in their classrooms; there are schools that genuinely want to offer their students education that incorporates ideas of peace and non-violence; in these schools, young people are encouraged to develop their individual capacities to acknowledge and address any violence in their lives [1] .

We also know that there is no one single type of peace education programme in South Asia [2] . Every peace education programme is defined by its specific context: geographical, political, social, psychological, economic, cultural, demographic and environmental, among others. Peace education also embraces a range of meanings, within the ambit of one overarching objective: usually, to achieve and sustain peace. More simply, we can contend that the process of peace education is two-fold: teaching people (adults, men, women, children) about the potential dangers of violence (in its many manifestations) and helping them develop their capacities to counter violence, thereby enabling them to build (and sustain) peaceful communities.

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Notes

[1This article is adapted and excerpted from ‘A Survey of Civil Society Peace Education Programmes in South Asia’, a study published in 2009 and funded by a grant from The Sir Ratan Tata Trust. The study is available in full at: http://prajnya.in/eprsI2.pdf. The research process included several interviews with educationists and peace activists, in person, on the phone, and via email

[2This essay understands peace education as “a process whereby people learn about the dangers of violence, develop their capacities to counter violence and build sustainable peace in their communities”

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