I think Peace Eduction is the need of the hour, not through a rigid curricula, but by sensitizing school and college students on how to settle issues of conflict. Resolution of conflict interests, should be a major theme in schools. It should be taken to the classroom in an interesting and creative manner. The issues around us should be highlighted, the violence in the country and in the world. Children must have dialogues with themselves, listen to their inner voices and those of their peers. Dialogue creates participation, and participation in turn leads to understanding.
What is goodwill, what is love? What is happening to children in Afghanistan, Middle East, Libya? Children must be shown that in their surroundings if there is violence, then they must feel for those affected. And those children who have enough, they must look at the boys and girls who roam about the streets, and for whom education is not even fortuitous, what about such children? They must think of what is happening to children today, in Assam against the recent backdrop of violence.
It is through Peace Education, that a child will see love, a better world, through the eyes of his or her compatriots, who are suffering in other countries, other regions of our country. And these aspects should be made into special modules in teacher training programmes. The classroom will undergo a change, when feeling and empathy will not dwindle in front of awesome things like rote learning.
Every Monday we get some children who are children of labourers to come to our IGNOU Institute For Vocational Education & Training to to do some dabbling with the computers. That will be fun for them, and they will learn as well. Barely eight to ten years old, these children fend for a living. Perhaps they will never know the fun of a classroom, or having friends. This is a magnitude in the country we must address. This is a malaise which should be redeemed, before such children take the law into their own hands. Bereft of love, they walk empty streets, soon they begin to beg and then steal.
The violence that tore Assam apart, recently for over a month should be the concern of all schools in North East India at least. Children must spread the message of peace to children. Teachers should be facilitators here. Peace Education should be ingrained in the syllabus in such a manner that children learn about what goodness is, and what it can accomplish. Do they feel for children in Assam, when every year they are affected by floods.
One of my school teachers Brother Brendan McCarthaigh who is now based in Kolkata is doing yeoman service in Kolkata for poor children, street children, by non formal education. He has an NGO by the name of Serve. The Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore Foundation and the Ahimsa Trust in New Delhi are spreading the message of peace, and are using media literacy for the promotion of peace, love and compassion. The former has a magazine called Peace Gong, where children write, edit and manage the magazine, which serves as a platform of peace.
We are also getting associated with these activities, because the message of vocational education, is to also be happy through your talents, and not only be job seekers. Our Institute is also starting a course on 'Volunteering' with the help of UNV and the Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore Foundation. Let us hope that such initiatives lead to compassion, and mercy which are the main attributes of life, and by serious implication - Education.