“I want to work toward creating a peaceful and better world where we live in unity, peace and generosity. This is the world I would like to work for.” ~ Nhial, alumnus of Sky School Peace-Building course, Kakuma camp, Kenya.
Since June 2018, Sky School has been running a new course ‘Peace-building in your community’ with partners in six countries around the world. 100 young refugees have taken part, and graduated as young peace-builders with an aspiration to positively impact their communities.
The ten week module, developed at our partner school UWC South East Asia by a team of peace education expert, introduces students to peace theory and to putting this into practice by designing peace-building projects in their communities.
The aim of the course overall is to develop student agency. As course leader, Louie Barnett explains “The curriculum helps to build their agency to make a positive difference at any level where they act: the self, their families, their communities, their countries or the world at large. It helps them become agents for positive change wherever and with whomever their sphere of influence can reach.”
Students first explore the concepts of self and group identity, and how these are important for building peace. They then learn about the difference between positive peace: peace with positive intent versus negative peace: peace being the mere absence of violence such as a ceasefire. Students also examine the current barriers that prevent peace and learnt about conflict transformation and to analyse conflicts. They then start to develop their own projects to build peace in their communities, through design and systems thinking.
During the course, also students develop projects that contribute to building peace in their communities. Students develop a wide range of projects: some students help to mediate issues in their household while others draw up campaigns and workshops to reduce violence against women and child marriage.
From June to November 2018, the course was rolled out in Athens, Greece; Chios, Greece Amman, Jordan, Kakuma Camp, Kenya and Hong Kong with a total of 100 students, and boasts of a 70% retention rate of the students who began it and then graduated. The course was very popular among students who found peace-building to be a very relevant subject to study. As one student from Iraq said,“Before this course I didn’t know that there was a whole area of knowledge that focuses on analysing conflicts and finding ways of solving them.”
We look forward to 2019 when we will continue to run the Peace-building course in existing and new locations, and enable many more young people to become the peace-builders that our world desperately needs.