Education and its implication in peacebuilding
There is no doubt that we live in the society of information, a society in which the creation, distribution, uses, integration, and manipulation of information is a really important economic, political, and cultural activity. Nowadays, and especially in the last 25 years, anyone can access information of any kind independent from their location as long as they have access to the internet – apart from other traditional means such as books or newspapers. However, extended access to information does not assure an educated society. Learning is a fundamental mechanism for adapting to our environment. It consists of a process of socialization by which people acquire the essential behaviors and roles they perform in order to have effective participation in society. Education should be one of the main matters of concern for societies as it is a means for consciousness rising aimed at human liberation. It also should be one of the main subjects of concern for governments, which should be committed to the future of the societies they represent.
The most basic skills such as learning how to read and write are indispensable in nowadays societies. The limitations which illiterate people are exposed are gradually increasing in every nation in the world, and more especially in countries with a high income. Literacy itself stands as the first step in the education process and at its turn is the base from which an individual can aspire to be an effective participant in society. After knowing how to read and write, kids go through a formal, systematic training during which they acquire the basics of general culture. However, the assimilation of the information classified in the academic curriculum is not the only training kids receive, but they also learn how to practice values such as respect towards their teachers and their colleagues, and how to socialize, share and cooperate with their equals. All these features are known as the hidden curriculum and they are as much or even more essential than the academic one.
Generally, when people talk about the education they refer to the formal one. However, I would rather say that this one makes reference to the concept of ‘schooling’ or the time spent in an institution dedicated to educating people through a concrete curriculum and which confers marks, degrees, and diplomas on those who complete the training. Apart from the formal one, there are other kinds of education, such as non-formal and informal education. Each of them has its pros and cons and aspects to take into consideration.
For instance, talking about formal education we could cite several advantages such as the fact of been taught by professionals, enjoying a systematic and learning process and should increase the chances to get a job in the future. Among the disadvantages is the rigidness of contents, lack of motivation from students and every thought out of the box may be ignored so that there is not too much space for free thought. With regard to other kinds of education, we could cite the non-formal one, which consists of specialised training to serve the needs of the identified group. Finally, we find the informal education, which includes acquiring any kind of knowledge through any way other than under the shadow of an institution. And it is within this type of education where the culture of peace, along with other important values has its main place.
Despite the fact that education of the culture of peace is present in formal education, we find how on some occasions students do not seem to have adopted any kind of peaceful practices by the time they finish their schooling period. Therefore, the outcome is that the education of the culture of peace has not been successful. This happens because students have not assimilated the basic concepts or they have not understood what peacebuilding really means. This is, in turn, much related to the fact that although formal education can have an important influence on the values of children and youth, it does not constitute 100% of their whole education. Education of human values such as love and peace has to be learned to a greater extent at home.
The family space is one of the most influential contexts where kids and youth learn how to behave and interact with each other. It is already proved that from birth until age 4, the context to which babies are exposed has a great influence on their future behavior. If kids don’t have a reference for respect, cooperation in a non-violence home, it is pretty difficult that they acquire these values even if they learn them at school. The reason for that is that the figures of the parents are essential and serve as a strong guide and example to be followed by the children.
In addition to the already mentioned, there are other factors that contribute to the dissemination of the culture of peace. The existence of public services such as social and health services have a clear influence on the welfare of societies. It has been already proved that the proper functioning of public services reduces social unrest and prevents inequality and conflict.
In conclusion, we could say that education has a great role in the education of the culture of peace. Starting from the fact that education is not reduced to a single space and a specific time, but is acquired in multiple contexts and in different ways. So in order to contribute to a true culture of peace, we need the rapport and joint work between formal education, family education and proper functioning of social services.
Mario Fernández Carrascosa