Teachers ready for new role as peace educators

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PUBLIC school teachers and administrators in Davao City have committed themselves to being "peace educators," becoming an instrument of peace to their students, fellow educators, families and communities.

Around 55 school heads and teachers from public elementary and secondary schools showed such commitment during the culminating activity of the two-day Davao City Division Peace Education Seminar-Workshop held October 16 and 23 at the Davao City Division Training Center.

Davao City Peace Education coordinator Elsie Gagabe said the seminar-workshop started with discussions on the legal frameworks of the institutionalization of peace education, citing Executive Order 570, also known as the Institutionalization of Peace Education in Basic Education and Teacher Education enacted in 2006, and its concurrent Department of Education (DepEd) Memorandum 469 released in 2008.


Their role as educators in peace building in Mindanao was also emphasized during the workshop.

"Peace education is more effective and meaningful when it is adopted based on the social and cultural context of the locality and on the peoples' needs and aspirations. Thus, to deepen educators' understanding on the context of the conflicts they need to address within and outside their schools, the Peace and Conflict Consultant of Forum Civil Peace Service discussed the concepts of conflict and violence to them," Gagabe said in an interview.

Organized by DepEd-Davao City Division in partnership with the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (Afrim) Inc., a Davao-based research and advocacy institution, the seminar-workshop aimed to raise educators' awareness of national policies especially those concerning the institutionalization of peace in basic education.

The seminar also aimed to enhance the teachers' knowledge on peace values and concepts, as well as educating them on their role in peace building by putting emphasis on peace education as one of the primary strategies in breaking biases among youth, lessening discrimination among cultures, and understanding the complexities of the Mindanao conflict.

Afrim program officer Venus Betita said the exercise enabled participants to realize that while conflicts in their schools naturally happen, they can be resolved with a "win-win" solution that involves understanding the context of the conflict, mapping out the parties involved in the conflict, and finding possible entry points for neutral people and groups who can employ interventions.

"The sharing on the nature of contemporary conflicts in Mindanao which focused on the historical context of the Mindanao conflict and the conflicts involving women and children in Somalia and Afghanistan gave the school heads and teachers a wider perspective and knowledge on the other forms of conflicts on a national and global level," Betita said.

Bernardo Carpio National High School principal Gemma Alicaya shared that they have learned about their role in peace building work, which is that as front liners in the task of developing peace values and skills on transforming conflicts among the youth.

Alicaya said she and fellow educators were able to acknowledge and appreciate the diverse cultures in Mindanao and the need to be creative in integrating the concepts of peace into their lessons and into the school system.

Michelle Minor, a teacher of F. Bustamante Central Elementary School in Tibungco, said she realized that "to institutionalize peace education in her school, teachers need to have passion and compassion to become effective peace educators".

Among the activities was a workshop on conflict mapping, wherein the teachers identified the issues, problems and conflicts in their schools and communities and mapped out the people and organizations involved.

School heads and teachers also tried to find the entry points where a possible intervention could be done in order to resolve the conflict.

Most issues raised were land-related conflicts such as one between a school head and a barangay captain as well as between informal settlers and the school administration. Other issues included career promotion and intimidation issues among teachers, principals and supervisors, as well as problems involving students as manifested in gangsters' troubles, bullying and addiction to online games.

The output, as well as the highlight, of the two-day activity was the crafting of a plan of action on how they could start transforming their schools into Schools of Peace through a lecture on the Total School Approach Framework in Peace Education.

This posed a challenge to the participating educators to learn more about the Culture of Peace and how this can be imbibed by the teachers and students.

The participants also admitted the need to equip themselves with more knowledge of the concepts and values of peace and how to institutionalize peace education through the conduct of more relevant trainings and provision of related reference materials. (Jade C. Zaldivar)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 28, 2010.

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