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Students Role in World Peace

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In anticipation of the upcoming Education Fast Forward debate (EFF5: From Learner Voice to Global Peace), we posed the following questions to guest presenter, Jeremy Gilley, of Peace One Day:

How important do you feel education and specifically teachers and learners are in achieving Peace One Day? What do you think they can do to make a real difference?

Read Jeremy’s response below:

‘From the beginning of Peace One Day’s journey, young people have always been important to me. What would they think of a Peace Day? Could it be a starting point for their actions for a more peaceful world? Over the years, I’ve spoken to well over 40,000 young people and it was really clear to me that the day made sense to them. At the same time, teachers were telling me that they needed tools: lesson plans and resources to help drive debate and inform practical action in the classroom. Education, therefore, has always been at the centre of Peace One Day’s campaign to institutionalise Peace Day.

‘It is important for young people to understand that Peace Day is not confined to combatants in distant international wars. Peace Day 21 September is a day of ceasefire and non-violence at all levels of society and so applies to each individual’s own behaviour and decisions in their everyday lives. Alongside parents, teachers are some of the most influential figures in a child’s life; they help form their world view and concepts of society, positions that are strengthened as they grow up. Through teaching, I believe we can nurture students’ understanding of peace, not only positively informing their daily actions, but also developing the foundations for a more active and peaceful future. By inspiring young people and students, sustainable and meaningful peace can be built in schools, homes and communities around the world.

‘Teachers are a key part of this endeavour and can help by joining the Global Truce 2012 campaign. This campaign aims to bring about the largest global reduction of violence ever recorded on one day, Peace Day. In order to provide a platform for schools, youth groups and educational bodies, Peace One Day has launched the Global Truce 2012 Schools’ Network to be a part of this campaign. Education plays a crucial role in the long term success of Peace Day and I would like to invite all schools/youth groups/educational bodies to join this network and make their commitment to mark Peace Day 2012, offering young people an opportunity to become a part of this groundbreaking initiative. In turn, this will enable Peace One Day to measure the impact of schools and young people on Peace Day 21 September 2012.

‘By listening to what educators around the world told me, I was inspired to create teaching resources: tools to advance active learning in the areas of conflict resolution, global citizenship and human rights, using Peace Day 21 September as a focus. An amazing team was assembled, including dedicated and experienced teachers. The result of this collaboration was the free UK Citizenship Resource, featuring 22 interactive, student-centred lesson plans for 11–18 year olds, exploring issues such as ending bullying, the United Nations, intercultural cooperation, great peacemakers, football, art, music and much more. Since then, Peace One Day has developed further free resources including a version specific to the US curriculum and the Global Education Resource, translated into the six languages of the United Nations. I am excited to announce that Peace One Day will soon launch the Primary Education Resource, extending Peace One Day education materials to children aged 5–11.

‘I believe these resources offer a chance to give peace a strong presence in the classroom. To provide educators with a method of promoting the idea of non-violence in homes, schools and communities is one of my key aims for Peace One Day. It was the inclusion of the “non-violence” clause in UN Resolution 55/282 (which established Peace Day 21 September) that actively charged each individual with the responsibility to make Peace Day a success in their own lives.

‘Since launching the education resources online in 2009, they have been accessed by nearly 12, 500 teachers in 197 countries around the world. However, it is not just teachers who can access these free materials. As Peace Day falls on 21 September, a date that is often early on in the school term, I would like to encourage parents to register and use the resources throughout the summer holidays. The new Primary Education Resource, for example, contains certain lessons – such as the baking exercise “A Peace of Cake” – that can be used by parents and children outside of the classroom setting.

‘There are, of course, many more ways in which students can become involved at every level of society: in their homes, communities and schools. Activities such as Sport for Peace, Dance for Peace, Sing for Peace and creative artwork are all methods used to promote Peace Day – anything that resonates with young people’s conception of peace and allows them to express it their own way. Young people are the catalyst for change and if they can learn and get excited about peace-building and intercultural cooperation, there will be peace one day.’

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