Education for peace
Peace education is the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to create conditions conducive to peace, whether at an interpersonal, inter-group, national or international level.
Peace education has a place in all societies – not only in countries undergoing armed conflict or emergencies. Because lasting behaviour change in children and adults only occurs over time, effective peace education is necessarily a long-term process. While often based in schools and other learning environments, peace education should ideally involve the entire community.
One area in which the last decade has seen significant progress, is in the use of education in emergency situations. In the past, education was not seen as a front-line service during emergencies – its provision was often deferred until the situation had stabilized. This is no longer true: Education is increasingly seen as one of the first essentials in an emergency. Schools can provide physical protection for children, and education can itself inject stability and normalcy. In Afghanistan, Iraq [link to human interest story Iraq], Liberia and even in Darfur, Sudan, UNICEF has made it a priority to get children back to school – in many cases for the first time in their lives – as well as to provide safe drinking water, nutrition and basic health care.
In collaboration with other UN organizations such as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme, as well as with non-governmental organizations within the inter-agency Emergency Education Network, UNICEF aims to create a safe environment for children in which they can learn, play and receive psychosocial support, and where mothers can spend private time with infants or receive counselling. In a wider conflict zone the goal is to reopening schools, rebuilding infrastructure or launching back-to-school campaigns.