Practicing Peace at Ivan Goran Kovacic School!

Peaceful Schools has received a delightful letter from our member school in Niska Banja, Serbia, Ivan Goran Kovacic School. It always gives us great pleasure seeing what each school is doing to create their own culture of peace and we’d like to share their hard work with you!

Over the past school year Ivan Goran Kovacic School has participated in activities that promote empathy, acceptance and friendship. Some of their successes have been fundraising money for students that come from low income families, building skills for peaceful conflict resolution through theatre and creating their own tree of friendship to celebrate their school’s love and kindness! These are only a handful of the many other activities the school has participated in over the past year, below are a few pictures highlighting their work.

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Children’s Peace Treaty

We the children of the world
declare peace on the future.

We want a planet free of war and weapons.
We want an end to disease,
death and destruction.

Hatred and hunger and homelessness
make no sense to us,
we want them done away with.

Our earth gives food enough for all –
we will share it.

Our skies give us rainbows everywhere –
we will keep them clear.

We want to laugh together,
play together, work together
learn from each other,
explore and improve life for everyone.

We are for peace, now and forever, for all.

Written by school children in Northern Ireland

Pakistani Educator Takes Risks to Promote ‘Culture of Peace’ in Schools


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Nadeem Ghazi came to peace education in Pakistan as a practical necessity, an alternative to futility.

He was a school administrator in Karachi, one of the world’s biggest cities. Gang warfare, targeted killings and other crime seeped from the roughest neighborhoods to poison ordinary life everywhere. In a poor country where 63 percent of the population of 165 million is under the age of 25, youth found it hard to resist the lures of criminal groups. Schools struggled to cope with behavioral problems, from bullying to students bringing guns to school, Ghazi said.

“Peace education is quite new” in Pakistan, the 38-year-old Ghazi said in an interview in Washington during a visit earlier this year. “We have math, science, English. But we don’t have classes in how to be a human.”

Ghazi has been teaching peace in Pakistan now for more than eight years, including forming his own non-governmental organization called Peace Education Welfare Organization (PEWO). From 2010 to last year, he was a coordinator for a two-year project conducted by Canada-based Peaceful Schools International with a USIP grant. The project, called “From Peaceful Schools to Peaceful Communities in Pakistan,” worked with teachers, students and parents in 25 Karachi schools to instill the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values required to prevent conflict and create conditions conducive to peace.

More than 400 teachers and administrators attended the trainings, and the organizers estimate they reached more than 8,000 students. Sessions focused on topics such as peer mediation, working with parents, and restorative justice, a way of addressing offenses that focuses on identifying what the victims and the perpetrators need and repairing the harm with steps such as paying back money stolen, doing community service, and simply apologizing.

The project paired a few schools in Pakistan with counterparts in Canada so that students could write to each other, with an emphasis on what they have in common rather than what divides them. One of the more tangible results of the project was a guidebook for schools called  “Creating a Culture of Peace: A Practical Guide for Schools.”

The project also aimed to strengthen Ghazi’s own organization to continue similar work on its own in the future. He learned project management, financial management, and program evaluation skills, and gained training expertise that could be passed along to other trainers in Pakistan. PEWO now has more than 100 member schools in Pakistan, Ghazi said.

Ghazi has become a master trainer in Pakistan for Peaceful Schools International, coaching other organizations such as Care International and developing collaborations with Peace Direct to strengthen women’s roles in conflict resolution. Both groups are working on peace promotion in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, a traditional tourist destination for its stunning scenery that has been riven by militant violence in recent years.

This year, he’s working on a sports-based conflict-resolution project with the British Council in Pakistan called DOSTI, or Friendship, starting with 1,000 students ages 12 to 18 from eight schools. A recent soccertournament inspired the establishment of an academy to keep the work going.

But peace can be a risky venture in Pakistan, as the world learned once again last year in the case of Malala Yousafzai. The 15-year-old Pakistani advocate for educating girls was the target of a near-fatal shooting on her way home from school in Swat in October 2012. She was flown to the UK for treatment and now lives there with her family. After multiple surgeries, she celebrated her 16th birthday with a defiant speech at the United Nations in New York, calling on world leaders to guarantee free education for every child.

Ghazi has conducted peace education training at Yousafzai’s school in Swat, and in May, he worked in remote areas of Sindh Province.

He clearly debates in his own mind the need for peace education in his country versus the risk it poses for him, his family and his co-workers. He has received threats against him, and had to rush a Canadian colleague out of the country after threats from antagonists who thought she was American.

One minute Ghazi declares, “I’m a human rights defender. I won’t stop it … I am not afraid of that.” A few minutes later, he concedes that he tries to keep a low profile at times and occasionally fears for his family.

“I love my country,” he says. “I see what’s happening, and I sometimes really cry for it.”

He’s convinced education is the most important avenue for addressing Pakistan’s many issues.

“The ultimate thing we have to do in Pakistan is work with the youth,” Ghazi said. “If we are able to save the youth, we can really save the country.”

Viola Gienger is a senior writer at USIP.

Sports for Peace! – Pakistan Project

We have received wonderful news from our regional coordinator in Pakistan, Nadeem Ghazi, about the success of the “Sports for Peace” project by the name of DOSTI(Friendship) with the partnership of British Council  Pakistan.

Some of the highlights of the program has been their work in various conflict areas with 1000 students from the ages 12- 18 years old.

This involved 8 schools in sports for peace activities, especially soccer! Their target is to involve 2000 youth in conflict  communities and areas of city  in the two year project. They have developed a board of advisory members from the local leadership and community members, for which they will be arranging thematic sessions to teach them about conflict and resolution  skills.

Click here to read all about their amazing work

Northumberland High Schools RESPECT Committee Video

NRHS in Nova Scotia, Canada sent us in this powerful anti-bullying video made by their RESPECT committee in collaboration with the communication committee. The students collected stories from within the school and shared them in the video to create a message of hope and solidarity for those who may be currently suffering from bullying. The video has received great reactions from staff and students and is going to be aired on the local news station!

Click the link below to watch the video online:

NRHS True Colours Anti-Bullying Video

Celebrations for Millstone River School!

PSI would like to celebrate Millstone River School in being the first school in the state of Jersey to become a member. We’d also like to share a deep appreciation and pride in March 1, 2005 being declared Peaceful School International Day in New Jersey to honour Millstone River School! After sharing with us the top place papers from their essay contest about peace in their schools it’s easy to see the dedication to creating a peaceful environment. Students speak of the helpfulness of teachers, the friendliness of students and the safety of the school environment which helps them excel at school and maintain their own peace in day-to-day life. Congratulations Millstone River School!