International Day of Peace: ICQN Promotes Peace through Education

The International Day of Peace is an occasion to be reminded that the African continent has suffered greatly from violent conflicts. According to the 2009 African Development Report, this has exerted a heavy toll on the continent in terms of human suffering and lost development opportunities. The education sector has not been spared by the effects of violence. Despite advances towards Education for All in the past decade, educational attainment in many African countries is still rather low. According to the Global Monitoring Report of 2011, sub-Saharan Africa is home to 43% of the worlds out of school children with the situation being worse in states that are affected by conflicts. Only 66% of young people are literate in conflict affected countries in sub Saharan Africa, compared with 93% in the world’s non-conflict affected countries. African governments therefore need to take urgent action and adopt a multispectral approach to leverage against the impact of violent conflicts in the continent.

Furthermore, according to UNFPA, 43% of Africa’s population is aged below 15 years old, many of them either engaged in low pay jobs or none at all. If not channeled to creative activities and positive causes, the youth’s energy can be used towards violence. Reaching out to them through programs that integrate peace education is likely to harness their potential for peace-building within their environment and the society at large.

In order to strengthen interventions aimed at promoting peace through education, ADEA’s Bureau of African Ministers of Education instigated the creation of an Inter-Country Quality Node (ICQN) on Peace Education in 2009. The node brings together African countries to share knowledge and experiences and serves as a framework for inter country collaborative learning and action. To date 15 African countries participate in the ICQN activities.

Through the ICQN, Ministers of Education and technical officers get together to make commitments and develop collaborative actions for promoting peace through education. Activities through the ICQN include:
•    Meetings to share experiences and best practices and develop a common action plan;

•    Updates on country specific peace initiatives in the education sector, regularly provided by countries;

•    Signing by Ministers of the Mombasa and Naivasha communiqués to facilitate the operationalizing of commitments made.

The celebration of this year’s International Day of Peace on 21st September 2014 coincides with a time when the ICQN is in the process of strengthening the structures and mobilizing support for programs to address concerns faced by several countries, namely the radicalization of children and youth leading to violence and extremism.

The adoption of a rights based approach in peace building through education, as per this years “Right of Peoples to Peace", will promote a holistic approach in the programming and implementation of peace initiatives.

Peace, security and stability are necessary pre-conditions for economic growth and development. It is recognized that a key ingredient in building a culture of peace is education. This is because education can help combat poverty, promote peace, social justice, human rights and  democracy by imparting life skills and values that will promote equality, respect, empathy, understanding and mutual appreciation among individuals, groups and nations.

For more information, please contact, Ms. Mary Kang’ethe, Coordinator, ICQN-PE, [email protected]