Afghan Schoolkids Need to Learn Peace is Possible

Events in three provinces hear about the role teachers can play in creating a better society.

Afghan Schoolkids Need to Learn Peace is Possible

Events in three provinces hear about the role teachers can play in creating a better society.

If a culture of non-violence is to become widespread among the next generation of Afghans, it needs to start in the schools, speakers at three recent IWPR debates said.

Speakers at events in Badakhshan, Faryab and Farah provinces all stressed the role that schoolteachers could play in building the foundations for peace.

“As well as learning peace-related topics, pupils will also be influenced by the behaviour, thoughts and vision of their teachers,” Qazi Ghawsuddin Rahmani, chairman of the Badakhshan section of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, said. “If the teachers acknowledge this and behave in a calm way, it will inspire students to work towards peace. The result will be a nonviolent society that moves away from away from aggression of all kinds.”

Abdul Alim Khadam, who heads a teachers’ council in Faizabad, the main town in the northeastern Badakhshan province, said it was important for all teachers to engage with pupils on these issues and act as “ambassadors of peace”.

“Although we do not teach peace as a separate subject at school, we underline its importance and values as part of every lesson, and we promote moral and humane behaviour in the family, school and society to all our pupils,” Khadam added.

Mohammad Jabar, an education official in the Daulatabad district of the northwestern Faryab province, said that teachers there “spend five minutes talking about the benefits of peace at the end of every lesson”.

Jabar noted that parents were so demoralised by the continuing conflict that “they cannot send their children to school with happy hearts”.

Daulatabad’s district government chief, Abdul Salam Nazhat, described the difficulties of engaging local people.

“The government has always tried to enlighten the public and build awareness about the benefits of peace through the work of teachers, tribal elders and religious scholars,” he said. “The government is doing its best to bring about long-term peace, but there have been many problems. Some people have joined the ranks of the insurgents because they are unemployed, or because they’ve been lured in by propaganda.”

At a debate held in the western Farah province, civil society activist Ahmad Shah Fetrat said illiteracy and poverty fed conflict. People needed both education and jobs to lift them out of the cycle of violence.

“The people of Farah are the instruments of warfare in Farah,” Fetrat said. “It is people deprived of an education who become tools in the hands of foreign actors [behind the insurgency].”

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of the IWPR programme Afghan Reconciliation: Promoting Peace and Building Trust by Engaging Civil Society.


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