Peacebuilding

The peace education project teaches techniques of non-violent conflict resolution at schools all over Armenia and has already reached more than 30,000. It began 12 years ago and is funded by the Bread for the World  (formerly Church Development Service Germany).

Over the past years a lot has been accomplished: the Armenian model of peace education has been developed, handbooks and visual aids have been published. Teachers, students and parents have participated in peace seminars. Almost 20% of schools in Armenia are involved in this project.

 

The need 

Research shows that teachers have to deal with different conflict situations during the day; often they spend up to 35-60% of academic time to manage conflicts among students. This is true for most teachers in every society and country, and Armenia is not an exception. The fall of Soviet Union and Armenia’s independence resulted in unemployment, poverty and migration. These conditions create tension and intolerance in the Armenian society, which is also reflected in schools.

Conflict situations often arise among students or between students and teachers. This negatively impacts on students’ relationships and on their academic performance. Therefore, it was important for all involved parties to have basic skills for solving and managing conflict situations, and with the peace education programme WFD aims to support the development of these skills.

Goal and approach

Through the peace education course we:

            • Aim to improve the quality of educational services provided in schools.
            • Strive to contribute to peaceful conflict management in schools and communities.
            • Seek to include the course of peace and conflict resolution education in the school curriculum.
            • Seek to promote the culture of tolerance and respect in the region.

We started with capacity building and studying the best international practices in peace education. The main strategy includes organising peace education sessions in schools, trainings for teachers and students of pedagogy as well as including parents in the process. The peace education course is developed and based on collaboration with the National Institute of Education under the Ministry of Education and Science.

First stage (2002-2010): Pilot in the Shirak region

The project started at school N20 after L. Byron in Gyumri, and later it reached to more than 16 schools in Shirak region.  Later we selected another five schools in Gyumri to start the peace education course according to the developed approach.

Peace education centers with 20-25 members, were created in each school. We tried to include schools from different areas of Gyumri and a few community schools. Another peace education centre for pre service teachers was established at Gyumri State Pedagogical Institute.

Peace months, exhibitions and peer-to-peer sessions have been organized occasionally
in order to spread the word about peace education course and involve as many schoolchildren as possible. Members of the Peace education centres launched the newsletter “Peace Bridges”.

I remember when I was in summer camp this year and one of the boys in my group was constantly fighting with the girls. He could not get along with anyone, and always tried to find an issue to argue over. I decided to act as a mediator and resolve the conflict with this boy. I was acting very calm, and asked many questions to find out what the problem was. When they all had a chance to speak and listen to each other, it appeared that there is no serious problem. I always feel happy when I have success in such things, Siranuysh Sarikyan, 7th grade, school #2

 

Second stage (2011-): Peace education in all of Armenia

In 2011, we introduced the conflict resolution course in all regions of Armenia. The approach is simple: regional branches of the National Institute of Education assist us to organise teachers trainings in each region. After the training, teachers and vice-prnciples of each school receive teaching materials to implement peace classes. “Conflict resolution education in Schools” a new handbook for teachers was published in 2012.

To date, we have already organised training of teachers in all regions of Armenia and peace education courses have been introduced all over the country. More and more schools are being involved. As of February 2013, more than 20% of schools in Armenia are carrying out the course on a weekly basis.

As agreed with the Ministry of Education and Science of RA, we will continue applying the same training approach in 2013 reaching out to more schools and students.

We believe that peace and stability can be achieved through educating the younger generation and promoting human rights.

 

Part of UN initiatives

The peace education programme is organised in the framework of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World announced by UN for 2001-2010. It furthermore is conducted in the spirit of the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).