Peace education: viewpoints of primary school students about peace.

Author:Gokce, Erten

Rapid process of change plays a fundamental role in society's improvement. Attempts to compete with the innovations in society have brought about the necessity to educate the citizens in accordance with the changing needs of society. Considering the benefits of education for leading a peaceful and prosperous life, importance of peace education acquisition comes to the fore. Humanity equipped with the understanding of peace education can create a peaceful world; therefore acquisition of peace education largely depends on efforts of various institutions to give peace education.

Peace, family, school, media, environment

Rapid process of change, which is the result of social dynamism and environmental factors, leads communities to pay considerable attention to the provision of more qualified man power and education of better quality. In order to educate more qualified generations, education process must be organized and improved so as to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

When the determining factors in the future of an individual are taken into account, family, school, media and social environment can be certainly regarded as the most important factors playing the most crucial role in an individual's future. An individual's education begins with the family and continues with school and social environment. The process of gaining the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors from the family goes on in primary education process and continues as a result of media and social environment. All the knowledge, skills and behaviours acquired directly influence the viewpoints related to life. In other words, beliefs and values gained in every phase of learning not only forms the character of a person but also contributes to the formation of a better world. In this respect, understanding of peace should be taken into consideration as a determining factor for the creation of a more comfortable world. Therefore, acquisition of peace education in every learning step of the individual possesses a considerable potential for the individual's today and tomorrow.

Equipping individuals with peace education and peace culture can be regarded as the common problem of all the world communities. In history, maintenance of peace has been an important problem. Wars have destroyed hopes and lives of many children, young people and adults. In the twentieth century more than 60 million people were faced with death in the wars (Kas, 2004). However, man has been investing great amounts and spending much money for armament.

After World War II, many educators pioneered an effort to establish a humanistic theory and practice of peace education. Contemporary approaches to peace education incorporate a wide range of responses to a variety of forms of violence, including coping and sharing skills among peers, the need for recognition of the eotheri and the development of care. (Porath, 2003)

In many communities, the wars result in destruction, death, pain and suffering. For instance, the war, which occurred in Iraq, caused many children's and civilians' death. Therefore, people have to find ways to cope with this enormous threat and danger. The lecturer of Goddard College, Miller (2003) indicates: "Violence is comprised of endless layers of pain, ignorance, self-assurance, and callousness. To overcome it, education needs to cultivate understanding and a culture of peace." (Education for a Culture of Peace 2003). In this sense, wars can be considered to be the enemy of peace. For nations' development and success peace can be defined as the key. The founder of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal ATAT

What is peace? How can we maintain peace? What should be done to preserve and improve peace? What are the national and universal factors threatening peace? Who or what kind of institutions should take precautions and responsibilities for world peace? Such questions should be considered entirely in wide perspectives. In addition, world communities, with cooperation, should transform our world into a place where one can lead his life in comfort and peace without violence and wars. Thus, in such a world individuals who are more healthy, comfortable and happy appear; as a result we can educate new generations with hope.

It should be born in mind that maintenance of peace is a universal problem and the solution of peace is universal as well. Many attempts, in national and international levels, have been carried out for preserving peace in the world. In this sense, supports of UNICEF and UNESCO draw the attention. The lecturer of Monash University, in her article "Peace Education in schools: archives and futures" underlines that these institutions can be said to have initiated the struggles against violence:

UNICEF and UNESCO are particularly active advocates of education for peace.

UNICEF describes peace education as schooling and other educational initiatives that uphold children's basic rights as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Their goals should alert teachers to the need to develop school and classroom climates that model peaceful and respectful behaviour among all members of the learning community, and enact the principles of equality and non-discrimination in administrative policies and practices. (Tudball, 2003)

Together with the support of UNICEF and UNESCO, United Nations (UN) regarded the period between 2000-2010 as the Decade for a Culture of Nonviolence. In this sense, necessity of encouraging people to preserve peace to abolish violence is significant, so the principle of UNICEF for maintenance of peace can be considered to be straightforward: "Disputes may be inevitable, but violence is not. To prevent continued cycles of conflict, education must seek to promote peace and tolerance, not fuel hatred and suspicion." ("Reflections on a Journey-Peace Education in schools". 2003, 21). Consequently, in many countries many cooperation projects have been organized for establishing friend's schools. In some occasions, between the primary schools of UN and the ones in Turkey projects of friend's school are organized to improve peace; in addition by means of arranged excursions to different countries different cultures and values can be shared, as a result learning about different cultures and customs leads people to appreciate values of different nations, and this learning process certainly contributes to improving peace culture.

In order to make the children of the world maintain peace and friendship and to give them the opportunity to create a better world with cooperation, every year in Turkish Republic in April 23, National Independence and Children Feast is celebrated. Children between 7-16 years approximately from 60 countries pay visit to Turkey and participate in these activities held every year, on 23rd of April and become in harmony with one another. The main goal of this celebration, which lasts almost a week, is to get world children and their cultures closer, to improve friendship, cooperation, understanding, and consequently to contribute to world peace.

In rapidly globalizing world, continuously flourishing international relations have increased the interaction between communities and contributed to the understanding of sharing values. On the other hand, close relations related to economics and politics have caused many countries or communities to be influenced by the wars and destruction, which took place in any place of the world. For instance, many civilian citizens of the neighbor countries, who are working in trade and transportation sectors among Middle East Countries, lost their lives in Iraq War, so the war had a considerable impact on economics of the whole countries in the region, and consequently directly influenced social life in community. In this respect, among the most effective ways to prevent war; cooperation with national and international enterprises for peace preservation around the world, dwelling on peace education in formal education programs and providing media's...

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