PEACE EDUCATION IN THE ERA OF “ANTI-TERRORISM” AND CONFLICT
Peace education is becoming increasingly prominent as the urgent concern and response of schools to the raging issue of war and social conflict. Peace education seeks to impart pro-peace values and address the issues that create understanding, tolerance, justice and peace. The long-term objective is to develop a culture for peace in our conflict-torn planet. Schools and teachers who take a critical and wholistic approach to the current US-led “war on terrorism” and the continuing insurgency and rebellion in the Philippines consider peace education important as the general objective of their curriculum as well as a specific area of teaching.
It is absolutely correct to say that peace education cannot, by itself, solve the problem of armed conflict and war. It is idealistic to think that a change of heart and values alone can bring peace, or that education is most decisive and precedes the social and politico-economic foundations that bring about social conflict and war.
In fact, it is the opposite that is valid. The foundations of social conflicts lie in the social structures that divide society. It is socio-economic oppression and exploitation that result in social and political conflict and strife. And it is justice and liberation for peoples that provide the stable and firm foundation for peace.
Thus, addressing solely the political-military aspects of conflict and war is nothing but pacification of some form. It cannot lead to lasting peace. Peace education that accompanies this sort of pacification is merely a panacea for social conflict and war.
On the other hand, the efforts to find a just and lasting solution to social conflict and war must include as a major effort education for peace as a key ideological component that reinforces the commitment for peace through values of peace-making and social justice, and the understanding of social, economic and political processes that underlie social conflict and war.
Peace education as a process and movement among the people is important because the efforts for peacemaking cannot be left to the leaders and conscious political actors in any conflict. Peace-making must instead be a social movement that apprehends the social issues that are involved and builds the consciousness and values for peace among the public. In this way, it becomes difficult for the elite to whip up xenophobia and racism as a cover for their vested interests that are negatively affected by efforts for peacebuilding and social justice.
Peace education cannot be simply about the values of non-violence, pacifism, tolerance and brotherhood against xenophobia, bigotry and racism. More important, it must be about equality, human rights and building social and economic justice.
* Article by Roland G Simbulan – For a full professional background of Professor Roland G. Simbulan (Click Here)