HWPL to hold Peace Education Forum in May

by Jeff Yong

The Paris conference on the role of teachers after the Covid-19 pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3: HWPL, a non-government organisation headquartered in Seoul, plans to hold a forum on peace education in May this year after successfully hosting a one-day conference in Paris in January on the role of teachers after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The location of the peace education forum has yet to be decided, HWPL said in a recent statement.

In conjunction with World Education Day on Jan 24, HWPL held the conference in the French capital that  was themed: Education Reinvented: Teachers at the Heart of Transformation

The conference attracted 257 participants in person and 285 others online. It was organised in partnership with the permanent delegations of Togo, Chad, Suriname, Mozambique, Angola and South Sudan to UNESCO, as well as the national commissions of Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Jamaica for UNESCO.

The conference’s aim was to find ways for the teaching profession to regain its appeal for transforming education in a rapidly changing world.

It started off with Charles Azilan, Minister Counsellor, Chargé d Affaires, Permanent Delegation of Togo to UNESCO, who emphasised the essential role of culture and education in the “promotion and preservation of peace, as it contributes to building peace in the minds of men and women, in keeping with the vision enshrined in Unesco’s constitution.”

Dr Tanvir Kayani, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Pakistan, then commented that the impact of Covid-19 on the teaching profession had been profound as it presented both challenges and opportunities for positive transformation.

“By investing in professional development and prioritizing teacher well-being, tackling workload issues, fostering a culture of appreciation and promoting collaboration, we can collectively work to restore the attractiveness of the teaching profession,” he said.

Pedagogical engineer Cathia Dirath spoke about the “instructors’ heart in teachers for passing on knowledge (to students)”.

Dirath, who had co-hosted a distance training course in Bamako, the capital of Mali, during the lockdown restrictions of Covid, revealed that despite the challenges, every participant was keen to pass on their knowledge as they adapted, adjusted, shared their visions, and exchanged views on good practices and communication.

The course was aimed at project leaders and students living in Bamako, and covered cultural project management and communication strategy.

Milly Antwi, President of Klesis Junior, an afterschool dedicated to unlocking the potential of juniors aged between three and 18 with out-of-school skills in France, said she was reassured that the HWPL-Unesco event had generated good response as education was a priority issue.

Teaching, she said, was a meaningful profession that concerned everyone.

As far as peace education is concerned, Antwi is convinced that by instilling these values from an early age in the realm of open-mindedness, collaboration, tolerance (and messages linked to peace), “tomorrow’s society will have nothing to do with today’s society.”

Marion Amoussou, Director of the HWPL branch in Côte d’Ivoire, who spoke about education in terms of values of peace, said the current education system presented a lot of difficulties, and one might wonder what the usefulness of peace education could be.

“But if we look at the culture of peace that we’ve managed to create in countries like Côte d’Ivoire with the youth programme, which has trained over 300 young people in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, North African countries and France, we can see that peace education has a totally appropriate place in the education system and could help to reinvent the latter and create a more effective system where teachers and students will feel understood and accepted.”

This event, which was a unique opportunity to bring together and mobilise into action, ambition, solidarity and solutions from all sectors of society to offset the learning losses associated with the pandemic. The event ended with a musical performance by IPYG or International Youth Peace Group, who got the crowd singing along to Emeli Sandé’s Brighter Days.

Meanwhile, HWPL issued another statement on feedback from several participants who attended HWPL’s World Peace Summit in Seoul on Sept 18, 2023.

They included Dr Balachandran Gopal Krishnan, Advisor at the Malaysia Hindu Organisation (Terengganu Chapter) and Special Officer for Non-Muslim Affairs in the Terengganu Menteri Besar’s Office, who hailed the efforts of HWPL to propagate peace education through its advocacy in inter-faith unity and mutual respect.

He opined that if egos could be put aside by leaders of various faiths, then the world would be a better place because there would be greater understanding.

Woo Sow Pheng, a retired primary school headmistress who also attended HWPL’s World Peace Summit, said initiatives like peace education should start from young.

“You are teaching the young how to respect, these are the good values you want in peace education so that when they grow up, they will be able to be peace leaders,” she added.

Another attendee, Mardiana Martin, a business owner, said giving different communities enough space for their faiths to be practised peacefully would help them achieve better understanding and unity among one another.

Elisha Indhumathi Kandasamy, another business owner who attended the peace summit, said the upholding mutual respect from among people of different faiths and the well-organised nature of the event impressed her.