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Report of the Discussion Program on Education as a Zone of Peace

Organised by FES Nepal

11 June 2014, FES Nepal office

Report Prepared by Uma Thapa


On June 11th, several personalities with diverse background in research and politics,gathered at the FES Office to discuss on "Education as a Peace Zone". The presenter was Isabelle Duquesne, a peace expert and author of the book "Nepal: Zone of Peace". The discussion program was chaired by Prof. Dr. Hem Raj Subedi, head ofthe Department of Conflict Peace and Development Studies. Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES Nepal, briefly introduced the topic with remarks on the correlation of peace and education.

Presentation

Isabelle started her presentation by asking how education and peace could both be established on the same ground. With the different examples to describe peace, she moved ahead with the argument tha tthe definition of peace differs according to countries, places,cultures and time.

Different manifestations of peace in society

She stresses that we are free to think so we need to think in such a way that it creates peace. She highlighted the point that it is necessary to develop the spiritual dimension of life since it is the key to ensure excellence. Her amplification was based on two topics: "Psychological balance" and "Spiritual attunement". Following these, we are responsible to bring peace and that it is a matter of self-consciousness what we think and how we can control our affective actions. Isabelle continued with the topic Environment Peace comparing France's nuclear waste dumping and Kathmandu's waste on the streets. With the peaceful mind it might seem Nepal's waste can be managed well, which could further help humankind whereas there is no sustainable solution for nuclear waste. While coming to the Social Equity section, she praised Nepali society for being so understanding and easily adaptable for any changes which bring peace and prosperity to the society. Isabelle emphasized that the presence of social equality and protection will lead to access of education and opportunities. Moreover, they are the agent to ensure fundamental rights in everyday life. Referring to Good Governance she focused on the importance of transparency, accountability and democracy. As all of these come will lead to peace and prosperity. Here her focus on transparency was to develop and enhance the local resources. With regard to Sustainable Economic Development, she argues that Nepal is not too weak to act but would need to learn how to get the best. Sustainability will lead to respect and use the local resources like water. At the same time she emphasized Nepalese culture of hospitably and it's excellent performance in tourism. She saw the lack of strategic leaner's of Nepal so we need to empower such resources to know the global affairs and to deal with them. Those silence features would directly attract the worlds view point and the ecological diversity within Nepal would give good opportunity to train "Blue Helmets".

Factors of Education Relevant to Peace

With such multiple relevant examples of education and peace she came to the topic "Education" where she compared education with social happening which should encourage innovation and focus on the practical use of it. After a few arguments on the significance of education she diverted her reasoning towards "Missing Peace in Education". She stresses that all these gaps has been created by individualistic and competitive attitudes. Now comes "Peace Education" where she defines peace as a state of being free from any kind of human conflict and violence. To reach this entire goal she directly pointed on education as a major tool. Moreover she emphasized on moral education to bring the ethic values, civic education to maintain law and behavior.

After talking on numerous efforts towards the prevention of conflict through education now she moves the topic towards "What does this mean for a national education system?"Her concern was on helping learners to develop an awareness of the process and skills that are necessary to achieving understanding, tolerance and goodwill in the world today. She has also seen the problem in implementing peace in education formally so in order to tackle these complex and interwoven problems. Here she names Yoga, a peaceful environment at school and well trained teachersas possible tools, though peace cannot be taught, but is learned by both teachers and students through dialogue, discussion and practice.

As the program's paper presentation was on the last point Isabelle explained peace is the mother of civilization and war is the demon of destruction, and only education can lead civilization and development into a positive direction. Even education flourishes only in the time of peace so to clarify these statements she chooses the topic "School as Zones of Peace". Her next topic of her presentation entitled "Teacher as peace builder" incorporated the qualities of teachers to maintain the peace in class as well as peace in mind.

Discussion

The discussion started with a note by Center for South Asian Studies representatives Mr. Rajesh Khar that Nepal and India have a "Love to Love" relation and only few people from both side keep some disagreement. To that remark Isabelle listed a few examples of tense relations quoted on newspapers.

Mr. Prabin Nanicha Shrestha, a student of Conflict Peace and Development Studies asked how peace and education can beincorporated in our tradition, culture and religion. To which Isabelle replied that Nepali are open minded and talented to adopt the good side of the education system.

Mr. Chiranjibi Bhandari, former student of Conflict Peace and Development Studies asked how we can balance theoretical and behavioral practices in peace education. Isabelle responded it's all easy if we clear the negative attitude and get concerned towards decision and suggest the spiritual element to use for more reliability. And she also asked Mr. Chinta Mani Yogi to elaborate the answer. Mr. Chinta Mani Yogi responded by quoting a traditional song "always remember the face of happy parents, of our own and always be connected to god through any means since god is there with the living as well as with the non-living beings too."

Mr.Shiva Adhakari a devoted in Agriculture and Environment thanked for the presentation and explainedthat education would not be possible without peace.

Prof. Dr Hem Raj Subedi, chair person of the program, thanked Isabelle and Mr. Dev Raj Dahal for their presentation. He gave a reflection of the program by saying that peace education is a broad field but can empower learners with knowledge, skills and values that are necessary to end violence and promote a culture of peace. Further solutions would be more knowledge of cultural differences and self knowledge; usually respond to those differences can make us aware of hidden prejudices and stereo types that are barriers to tolerance, understanding and good communication.

 
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