Arigatou International Geneva, together with the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) and the African Union, is carrying out a series of three online dialogues under the program “Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 through Investment in Youth and Peace Education” to contribute to peacebuilding, resilience and the prevention of violent extremism through education in Africa.
COVID-19 is imposing an unprecedented global health crisis, with negative ramifications on the social, political, economic, and educational conditions in Africa. In many countries, the pandemic may exacerbate existing conflicts and intensify social challenges, making youth more vulnerable and susceptible to violence and discrimination, fostering conditions for violence and extremism to sprout. The situation, made worse under circumstances where young people are not included in positive social transformation efforts, contributes to hinder the achievement of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, particularly the “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020” flagship program.
This project aims to enhance the voice and role of youth in “Silencing the Guns in Africa” by addressing gaps hindering their meaningful contributions through youth awareness, advocacy, and training.
The first dialogue, titled “How young people are impacted by peace and violence – Challenges and Opportunities,” was carried out online on 11 November 2020. It involved 30 youth drawn from each of Africa’s five regions.
Participants discussed the root causes and emerging socio-political, economic, and educational dynamics that impact peace, violence, and violent extremism. They identified unemployment, poverty, and lack of opportunities as factors that lead to violence, together with structural issues that affect youth, like xenophobia based on ethnicities.
“Peace begins with us” stated some of the participants during the session, recognizing the role of youth in fostering peace in their own communities. They highlighted education as key in the promotion of peace and stressed the importance of embedding peace education into the national curriculum. Creating positive environments in which young people feel included as part of a national discourse is paramount to implementing preventative measures in combatting radicalism and religious extremism.
The second dialogue will be held on 8 December 2020 under the title “Young People as agents of change by championing education for peace and prevention of violence.” Finally, a third session will be organized by the end of January 2021 on “How to energize and empower young people through education for peace and prevention of violence.”
A training guide on “Culture of peace, respect and mutual understanding for youth through peace education, and dialogue”, will be developed as a result of these conversations, primarily for youth in higher education and non-formal education and also for teachers and teacher educators.
Young people are leading change across Africa, contributing to innovations, and transforming social structures to become more inclusive and just. Their strong optimism and passion prove that youth in Africa are both agents of change and sources of hope for a peaceful African continent. This project will strengthen their capacities and support advocacy efforts on peace, particularly amongst their peers.
This project builds upon lessons learned from previous interventions in the Horn of Africa in 2017, the Sahel region in 2018, and a teacher’s development project in 2019, all led by UNESCO-IICBA and supported by the Government of Japan.
We thank again UNESCO-IICBA for trusting in our educational methodology on ethics education and the African Union Youth for Peace program for helping us reach a wider audience.