Teachers build 'culture of peace'
Teachers in this remote town in southern Luzon (Philippines) is transforming this communist-insurgency area into a zone of peace through peace education, thanks to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The municipality of Castilla which is some 600 kilometers southeast of Manila has been tapped as one of the pilot areas in the Philippines where peace education is taught in the primary school to inculcate the value of peace to ensure their bright future as law-abiding citizens.
The San Isidro Elementary School here has been selected as one of the pilot areas in the country where peace education is taught which is an initiative of the Bicol Consortium on Peace Education and Development (BCPED) in partnership with the Department of Education in Region V.
The project is fully supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and funded by UNDP through its Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Programme. Technical expertise is provided by the United Nations Act for Peace Program.
Under this program teachers and administrators are trained on how to mainstream peace perspectives into the basic education curriculum as well as into school policies, processes and relationships to make them conflict-sensitive and peace promoting.
Teachers are also trained how to reach out to the families of the students and other members of the community for a holistic approach to build a culture of peace.
Emma J. Sario, a grade one teacher, upon returning from a training seminar, set up a corner in her classroom where she posted several ways on how to transform the classroom into a place of peace.
A co-teacher Sandra Aninipot encouraged her 55 students to come up with their own guidelines, many of which focused on respecting, helping and showing compassion towards their fellow students.
Aninipot has also adapted peaceful approaches in dealing with trying circumstances at home.
Barely five months after the implementation of the project, the teachers noticed remarkable changes in the behavior of their pupils, who now refrain from saying bad and hurting words to fellow students.
They also keep their composure and avoided retaliating when provoked by their classmates.
The phrase “Peace be with you” has become the popular saying heard around the campus.
School principal Teddy Jañola cited the importance of training the pupils the importance of a lasting peace.
Aside from mainstreaming peace perspectives into the school program, Jañola and his teachers have spread the peace virus outside the school premises.
Jañola said a progress report has been submitted to the municipal and provincial officials about the project.
The school is actively working with the parents’ association to be able to reach out to the community more effectively.
Through peace education the young students will be trained peace advocates, he said.
With the success of the peace education program, teachers at the San Isidro Elementary School have felt a sense of personal triumph in helping the transformation of their students into peace- loving individuals.
Relationships among fellow teachers and students also have vastly improved.
For teacher Armie G. Buban, the whole experience reminded her of her commitment to become a peace advocate.
She said that being trained under this project has steadily helped her to keep her composure, especially in dealing with hard-headed students.
The school has already received commendations for the early success of the project resulting in the additional support being granted by the Department of Education and the expansion of the project to more schools in the Bicol region.