New Peace Education Forum fosters collaboration and effectiveness

ICON has set up a Peace Education Forum, which met for the first time on 5th August 2014.  The aim is to strengthen the collective effectiveness of our work, and to build a culture of nonviolence across the region.  We will foster collaboration on specific projects, and find ways of learning from each other.

The Forum is inclusive and open to all organisations who see their work as promoting peace through education.

At the initial meeting, a group of enthusiastic activists spoke about their involvement in peace education.

Here is a summary of what was said.  Note that this covers only those aspects of the work that address peace education specifically.

 

Representative Organisation Peace education activities
Liz Palmer 350.0rg 350.org is a movement started by students to address the structural violence driving climate change. It uses social media and the internet to inspire local and global action that creates awareness and understanding of why climate change is happening and helps people make the connection between vested interests, multinational corporations, health, water, food insecurity and the growing gap between the rich and poor.
Benina Mkhonto Alternatives to Violence Project We try to overcome the hunger for violence, work also with Healing of Memories. Our work falls under Five Pillars: affirmation, listening and communication, co-operation, community building, Ubuntu.  We are an international organisation that started work in prisons, helping to reconcile and to deal with nonviolence.
Hailey Fudu Bahá’í Community The focal area of the Community has been the junior empowerment programme.  Animators of junior youth, 12-15 years, are drawn from university students and high school youth, to be mentors and guides.  This touches on peace-building within themselves, through service, arts, and ongoing education.  The approach of the Bahá’í Faith in very inclusive, so the junior youth is one of the areas with a focus on peace education
Paddy Kearney Denis Hurley Centre As a result of the xenophobic attacks in Durban, there have been many weekend workshops on the healing of memories, for them to tell their life stories in a sympathetic environment.  Leads to the building of trust, forming of new friendships, discovering that others are a human being, wishes, fears, experiences.   A group of about 25-30 people.  This work changes the atmosphere in this part of Durban, near the Emmanuel Cathedral.  The Centre works very closely with the Muslim and Hindu communities.
Nomabelu Mvambo-Dandala Diakonia Council of Churches Our core purpose and business remains social justice.  One of our interventions, which was developed during the political violence, is a stress and trauma healing course, also known as healing of memories.  Two levels: creating a space for people to share their painful stories, initially political violence, but now a myriad of issues, poverty crime, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, sexual orientation.
Luke Chagwe Community Development Association, UKZN We create a platform for discussions on violence and nonviolence in schools and communities…  First we as facilitators are assisted, then we create these platforms within the schools.  These learners may form a group of peer educators/counsellors who can listen to each other.
Mondli Zwane Gandhi Development Trust Awareness programmes, education in schools, and research.  We pursue alternatives to violence and conflict resolution in both primary and high schools.  GDT has developed a particular focus on work in early childhood development, and in developing nonviolence amongst younger children.
Crispin Hemson International Centre of Nonviolence Action research with students in schools, intended to strengthen them as leaders for nonviolence.  This leads sometimes into formal publication and increasingly into formal teaching.
Clinton Taylor Luthuli Museum Educational programmes around choices for violence or nonviolence, focus also on xenophobia.
Mohini Seeds of Trust Seeds of Unity, bridges nature and people together by discussing religions and elements of nature.  It aims to develop a safe environment through focused on the commonalities amongst plants that are revered in different religions.
Jenny Duvenage WESSA People don’t always connect the environment with peace.  Environmental destruction is directly linked to conflict, often over natural resources, displacement of communities.  Climate change is leading to climate refugees and drives xenophobia.  Our economic system causes environmental and social problems, these are connected.  We have to consider how by solving the environmental problems we can create green jobs, ensure clean wate and build community cohesiveness.
Saydoon Sayed World Conference of Religions for Peace WCRP does peace education in schools, based on human rights.  We bring this to about 20 schools a year, with a focus on themes.  We are also vocal in the fight against HIV/AIDS, from the angle of human rights and peace.  Learners go back to their schools and have an item at assembly, such as a play.  We build on the movement from apartheid to democracy.

 

 

Innovative Leadership Programme co-hosted by ICON

South Africa needs leadership that is ethical, committed and effective.  The death of Nelson Mandela has reminded us of our need for leadership that will not just steer us ahead, but do so in a way that maintains the hope of a fully democratic, nonviolence and just society.  ICON’s response has been to join with Durban University of Technology (DUT) and ACCORD (the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes) to launch the Innovative Leadership Programme.

Participants and staff working in groups

Participants and staff working in groups

The initial workshop on 22nd February brought together 30 DUT students from a very diverse range of discipline areas.  Part of the potential of the Programme is to unlock the resources that students bring to the course.

Listening carefully to each other across differences

Listening carefully to each other across differences

 

A compelling session was when four students spoke about projects in which they have taken leadership.  Here Walter Nsengiyumva speaks of walking 3 300 kms from Rwanda to Congo Brazzaville as an 11 year old, and of how he then developed a training facility in the refugee camp.

Panel of four students with Crispin Hemson, ICON Director

Panel of four students with Crispin Hemson, ICON Director

 

ICON’s interest in this project is partly to develop new ways of working with young people who came into tertiary education with a wealth of experience that is often not tapped as a resource.  It is partly also to develop the thinking of young people around the meaning of nonviolence in the new context of Africa today.  Part of the wealth of the course is brought by the presence of DUT students from elsewhere in Africa.

ICON was represented by the director, Crispin Hemson, and by its deputy chairperson, Paddy Kearney, who spoke on the life of Denis Hurley, the archbishop who was central to the opposition to apartheid.

Paddy Kearney, deputy chairperson of ICON, speaking on leadership lessons from the life of Archbishop Hurley, who was brought up on Robben Island

Paddy Kearney, deputy chairperson of ICON, speaking on leadership lessons from the life of Archbishop Hurley, who was brought up on Robben Island