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WPDI strengthens the role of its peacemakers as peace teachers in Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan

12 WPDI young leaders from Eastern Equatoria in South Sudan achieved their second advanced training to teach Conflict Resolution Education in the primary and secondary schools of their communities

Building on the famous words of UNESCO’s Constitution that it is in the minds of people that the “defences of peace must be constructed,” WPDI delivered, from August 24th to 26th in Juba, a training on teaching Conflict Resolution Education (CRE) in schools for its youth peacemakers from Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan. Once trained, these 12 young women and men will go into schools of their counties to disseminate values of peace and tolerance among pupils and high school students, providing them with knowledge and skills to become agents of peace in their communities and beyond.

Having young people teach other young people on such matters, we have observed, has real values. Primary- and secondary-age children and adolescent will feel more connected to the presentations and more engaged in the discussions: they will understand not just that peace is important but, above all, that they can be active peacebuilders in their daily lives. Taban Oliver William, one of the participants in the training, observed that “primary and secondary peace education is important because it will develop positive attitudes that enable the skills to be deployed, explore different kind of rights and responsibilities and these affect both individuals and communities. Further it may adapt behaviours to suit different situation and later appreciate and contribute to development of this nation.”

The CRE in schools project is a recent addition into our flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), which is currently being implemented in different areas of Mexico, South Sudan and Uganda. The YPN is a youth leadership program, through which we train and support cohorts of young women and men from vulnerable and violence-affected places as peacemakers and entrepreneurs who help their communities on their path to resilience and sustainable development. A key aspect of our approach is that we consider young people should be in the driving seat, starting with our own programs.

The very idea of teaching CRE in schools actually originated as an initiative by youth peacemakers from Mexico, who had decided to somehow replicate in schools the training we had provided to them. There were so many positives responses from students, teachers, and officials that we decided to mainstream the concept into the YPN as a whole. The advanced training in Juba was part of this effort, which has also included in-depth discussions with the Ministry of Education, who sent two representatives to the training. Such endorsement of our program at the official level is highly valued by us as validation of our tenet that young people should be held as active partners in the promotion of peace.

In the coming weeks, as our young peacemakers start teaching our curriculum to children and adolescents in their counties of origin, they will demonstrate that the future of peace in South Sudan is also in the hands of its youth. There is no best expression of this hope than the words voiced by Sandy Grace, another of our peacemaker, “I really feel that peace education in primary and secondary schools is very important because the children can get a proper understanding of peace and build environments of peace where they live. Above all, since South Sudan is under going violent conflict and many of the pupils have grown up in conflict with a lot of trauma and stress, peace education will help them to build peace in schools, home and in the communities they live in. It is time to involve the young ones in peace building process in South Sudan through Peace Education in Primary and Secondary Schools.”