Recent events in the country like ongoing lynching, murder, hate crime, communal polarisation, cow vigilantism, love jihad, caste clashes, media bias, governmental apathy, organised ‘pseudo patriotism’ and related development of breech of peace schools and colleges in certain states in central India, and increasing silence of the majority on terrible attacks and violence on people made me to think what should we do to propagate love and peace among people. As educators, it is time for all our schools to take Reconciliation and Peace as a major topic to concentrate and make modules and texts available to all our schools.
Education has a big role to play in building peace in the minds of people, in the country. We must acknowledge the future of our country and the humanity depends upon the type of education we give to our students. That is why we urge the government’s new Commission for education to take this aspect seriously. We wish our education policy must have a place for peace and reconciliation as a major thrust area.
Human dignity and Human Rights and protection of environment are the core values that need to be practised with urgency in all our schools. This goes very well with the Sustainable Development Goal set forth by the UN too. What we need today in India is a priority based programme of peace education in all aspects of school curricula. Children must be taught the cherished human values such as kindness, mercy, friendship, harmony, generosity, equanimity, and righteousness, as enshrined in all our religions and the basic values enshrined in the Preamble of our Constitutions. There seems to be a deliberate attempt from some quarters to undermine these values by hijacking religions and ignoring the Constitutions.
There must be programmes and modules to create values and development of attitudes and behaviours to be practiced in schools and out of school environment to achieve a counter culture of violence and hatred. Perhaps we need to reorient our teaching-learning programmes in the schools. We must design programmes, co-scholastic activities, functions, ceremonies and celebrations to internalise concepts and practices of peace and reconciliation through education.
Every school must have a culture of peace by way of developing literature and modules of peace by way of Human Right- Democracy and Constitution in schools. All of us can make sure that we exchange the best practices of each other, positive examples and even available audio-visual materials for the use of all. Schools must concentrate democratic concepts through school parliaments and other duty conscious citizenship among students. Teachers must be trained to deal with conflicts through conflict management techniques.
Mass media is a real player today, and very often we see them playing a very negative role. People in general and students in particular are in a state of utter state of confusion due to the disorder in the society and that is enhanced by a group of irresponsible media. Children naturally absorb what they see and listen. Therefore, there is urgency to nurture peace and reconciliation in the hearts of children through using social media and other forms media. Looking at the situation in India today someone told me this; “those who want violence prepare people for violence; but those who want peace have neglected young children and adolescents so that they are unable to organise them for peace and harmony”. Schools and educational Institutions cannot but work with determination to instil the value of peace in the minds of students. Christians with its vast net work of schools and colleges must lead all in this very important and timely need of Indian society.
Peace education is and must be an attempt to respond to problems of conflict and violence, especially hate violence in the name of religion, culture and ethnicity, on scales ranging from the global and national to the local and personal. It is about exploring ways of creating more just and sustainable futures. Peace education cannot be a compartmentalised subject to be dealt with and by a few. The whole school atmosphere must be oriented to this. It must be holistic; it embraces, physical, social, philosophical, intellectual, psychological, and spiritual growth of children within the framework of the schools overall values. Jesuit education insists on creating men and women for others. We aim at making our students persons of Conscience, Competent, Compassion, Commitment and Coherence. If students grow in compassion for all, peace is built already in their minds and in turn in the society.
Here are a few things each school must do in the current academic year itself. In tune with the great value of ‘ Cura Personalis’, develop a more humanistic approach in all our schools. This means;
· Improve human relationships between, teacher – student, teacher- teacher, student- student etc.
· Help develop good attitudes in students and teachers as well. There can be more cooperation and collaboration among all with due respect to all.
· Help healthy emotional development in students. Let them be positive in approach.
· Have more socialisation through participative and interactive programmes. Perhaps co-operative learning based on Multiple Intelligence will be of great help in nourishing cooperation and mutual respect.
· Improve students’ discipline and moral behaviour through internal assessment and daily assemblies.
· Develop critical thinking and creativity in all.
· Improve standard of teaching and learning.
· Let there be a greater appreciation and encouragement in all spheres of the school. Remember the weak ones need more encouragement and positive strokes.
The way to peace is a challenge today. However, that is the only way ahead for us. We educators must understand this seriously and work for peace tirelessly. Change will come only through teachers and educators. Therefore, let us begin in all our schools working for peace, resolve conflicts between different groups and peoples by giving them justice oriented, non-discriminatory and all embracing environment. We need to build up inner peace in the minds of our stake holders, by helping them to have peace with oneself and others, with nature and the Creator.
With oneself: Sense of freedom, compassion, good health, absence of inner conflicts, and appreciation for beauty.
Social Peace: Peace between individuals, accepting diversity, harmonious relationships at all levels, conflict reconciliation and resolution, love, friendship, mutual understanding and care for one another. Democratic principles are of great help. Our Constitution is full of Social values for peace and harmony among the diverse cultures, ethnicity and religions.
Peace with Nature: Laudato Si’ talks about it so well. Harmony with nature is a human quality. It is awareness that we are part of the earth and the universe. All our schools must have priority programme on ecology education.
Peace with the Creator: Spirituality must go beyond ones religious boundaries. We must not worship the god whom we create, but worship the God who created us. He is the Master of all.
If we take steps to educate our children and teachers of this Integral peace education with urgency against the toxic mix of corporate- fundamentalist and fanatic ideology that are in operation, our nation will have a future. Otherwise, it will perish sooner than later. Let us, therefore, work for peace, harmony and reconciliation in our schools and institutions.
(Published on 22th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 04)