On Thursday, the 24th of March 2011, the Education For All Campaign Network launched a global monitoring report at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul with the theme "armed conflict and Education".
In her address, Mrs. Antoinette Corr- Jack, General Secretary GT spoke on " the Role of Teachers in Peace building".
She said that one of the most frequently used phrases of our time is that of "Peace' but the irony however is that, today while most people understand intuitively what they mean by Peace, there may not be a common understanding of the term which will mean differently to different individuals however, the essence is the same.
She said that Peace is not limited to the absence of armed conflict but also has a positive dimension aimed at achieving three objectives.
"Meeting the basic needs of all human beings,
Eliminating all forms of violence,
Respecting human rights for all, that peace must begin in the minds and hearts of children and the challenge is to make sure children receive the quality education that will help them build peace," she said.
She revealed that Peace education aims to find the root cause of each problem, and helps us to think creatively about solutions-and, most importantly to act on them.
She added, "Peace Education teaches us to look at problems holistically, and try to see with wide lens, looking from the past and forward to the future and looking deep within our selves, while at the same time understanding the larger impact".
"I believe that Peace Education is transformative and empowering and is the answer-to all our problems, from injustice to poverty, from personal anxiety to inter personal conflict, from neighbourhood misunderstanding to international tension. It helps us to critically self-reflect and reach our highest potential as individuals", she remarked.
She however said while everyone can be a teacher and a leader of peace, school teachers, those whose professional vocation is education have a particularly important role to play in building a culture of peace.
"Teachers have a powerful position. As a role model, a teacher has tremendous influence. Teachers have the potential to be important peace-builders in their daily face to face meeting with the children", she said, adding that Teachers can be peace leaders by modeling peaceful behaviour in their classrooms such as through peaceful communication, promoting non-violent conflict resolution and transformation.
She said," A good teacher will also be able to teach the students about the value of human rights and solidarity as well as the rights and duties of children. To neglect moral and peace education at school will adversely affect peace building and development".
She therefore said well trained, inspiring and respected teachers are vital in promoting peace. Teachers who can provide quality education and who are respected by the students can teach those useful skills and knowledge, thus promoting stability, mutual respect and tolerance. They can also serve as role models helping to establish a spirit of unity and love, she said.
Therefore cross cutting issues such as peace education and gender equality must be integrated into the school curriculum and taken seriously by those responsible, she added. However, only a holistic education that comprises both academic and practical issues, can ultimately contribute to a sustainable peace, she emphasized.
Peace Education is the most effective way to build a culture of peace and teachers are best positioned in terms of their numbers and ability to influence the hearts and minds of future generations, furthermore, Peace Education is a tool to empower teachers with the skills they need to teach their students the knowledge, attitudes, values and skills for a peaceful living
So that they may transform our world into one in which peace prevails, she observed. As the problems we face are complex and varied, they will require multi pronged solutions, she remarked, noting that the important role the teachers play in Peace Building can never be over emphasized.
"Teachers provide continuity and reassurance by giving hope for the future and providing structures and a sense of normalcy, they help to mitigate the effects of conflict, crisis, disaster and displacement. They play a crucial role in bringing stability and recovery to a community. They provide life-sustaining and saving information to children youth and their families, and help provide a safe, protected environment where learners can begin healing from the effects of a crisis", She remarked.
She said, "Teachers are peace builders, they pave the way to living together by promoting values of respect, tolerance, mutual understanding and solidarity. This mission is more vital than ever in increasingly connected and multicultural societies".
In her conclusion, she said talking and listening to children should be used in our interaction with children. "Behaviour and commitment improve when children are treated with respect and fairness by their teachers and when parents build cooperative and supportive relationships. Peace is precious, it must be nurtured, maintained and defended; peace education is the path towards a sustainable, just and thriving future and the important role teachers' play in Peace Building can never be over emphasized", she concluded.