Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The many faces of Gender Inequality – My Reflections

Many societies have diverse forms of gender inequalities entrenched into their cultures as a result of their perceptions and interpretations of religious guidelines.

Looking at it from my local context in a multicultural environment with a dominant Muslim population, Most of the apparent occurrences of gender equality are actually not based on evidences of any religious text

Because some religious positions (Mostly Priesthood) are reserved for men does not in any way mean are second-class citizens. The various religions have opportunities to play full active roles in the spiritual tasks.

Islam as a religion holds that women are not in any way inferior to men but were originally created from the same soul. (Holy Qur’an 4:1). Women are granted equal rights in Islam as well as equal responsibilities.

In marriage, Islam grants women the right to be provided for by their husbands, but there is no Islam text that prohibits a woman from going out to work, provided she conducts herself in morally accepted ways in the course of working.

Examples abound in Islamic history of women who engaged in business or were devoted scholars in diverse fields. The Holy Prophet Muhammad never prohibited women from participating in all activities during his lifetime.

Various cultural prejudices handed down over the centuries have however found their way into our societies and are paraded as being Islamic practices. These include limiting womenfolk to only household chores and child bearing/rearing.

Due to the important influence faith has in our societies, many of these cultural practices have become entrenched in the society to the point that even the women have become conditioned to accepting the discriminations and prejudices against them as being in line with the teachings of Islam.

The media (both local and global) play a very big role in the perpetration of gender inequality. Use of gender specific language, projection of women in stereotype roles and the overwhelming portrayal of female images as sex symbols in adverts.

Instead of girls growing up to see themselves as equal partners, and behaving/aspiring to be seen as such, they are unconsciously conditioned for life as sources of sexual gratification for men and as home keepers. So instead of priming up their minds to aspire to become successful in various fields like the boys, they are made to feel they were not created for that, and blindly guided to believe the opportunities are not there for them!

Starting from the home, there is a great misrepresentation of the roles of males and females. Instead of seeing the different household roles as complementary and equally essential to the peaceful and effective functioning of the home, the males are guided to believe that because they are assigned the physical tasks while the girls carry out the household chores, they are superior!

Even the conservative families will benefit positively from a better understanding that allows everyone’s everyone contribution to be seen and accepted as being a vital part of the home system. If the man works to bring in food for the family, it is the woman’s contribution of cooking the food that turns the supplies into the delicious meals the family enjoys.
While the boys chop wood for fire, it is the plates/plates washed by the girls that are used for the cooking.

This understanding should also be extended to show that any of the roles could be reversed, there are no laws against a woman working to bring food for the family or the boys washing plates while the girls chop the wood; it is simply a matter of every family member supporting the family with his/her contribution to ensure the family maintains a functional and happy home.

Many employers of labour still have reservations about employing women into some male dominated positions in their organizations. Though it might not be publicly acknowledged, many organizations all over the world have silent unwritten rules that are ensure gender bias in the employment process, even if the best qualified applicant is a woman, some flimsy excuse is created to drop her in favour of a less qualified male simply on account of her sex.

Gender inequality is detectable in our school system right from the curriculum. in laying out the diverse general objectives, you’d detect gender specific objectives and activities.

Though this may sound radical, but I am not in support of allocating a fixed quota to girls in the admission process. The educational system should provide a level playing ground that will be well designed and implemented be to guide learners to strive for achievement and excellence with no discrimination or prejudice.

Employment into both private and public sector positions should be based on merit, with fair and equal opportunities for both sexes with no prejudices and institutionalised discrimination. No concession or prejudice should be introduced. With assurance of a level playing ground in which everyone has equal chances of success, the girls will see the various possibilities that exist for them to achieve and excel just like anyone else.

Gender inequality and Peace education – My Reflections

Discrimination in any guise is a form of structural violence and thus an impediment to the evolution and entrenchment of a sustainable culture of peace.

Being a sociological attitude that usually acquired and adopted in the context of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ in a society, gender inequality usually goes unchallenged in many societies because the oppressed group (the women) grow up being conditioned to passively accept the ‘natural’ roles foisted upon them by the society.

With such general acceptance of the stereotype roles, even cases of physical abuses are accepted as being ‘normal’ in many societies because of the chauvinist orientation that pervades the social structure.

To achieve a culture of peace in our societies, everyone must be free to participate fully to best of his/her abilities without any form of limiting prejudices or discrimination. Our learners have to be guided to see both males and females as being capable of becoming the best in any field of human endeavour they feel inclined to follow.

We are in a world in which the definition of POWER has moved away from physical brute strength to mean scientific/technological prowess, and getting learners to see things from this angle will make them realize that a man does not in any way have a superior advantage over a woman. This will help them to learn to see women as equal partners who are endowed with all the innate abilities men have.

Our mostly societies are still mostly male dominated and thus the various policies and societal rules are made by men. The few concessions that are allowed to women are made from a male point of view, and mostly don’t consider the actual needs and capabilities of the women. So, instead of working towards the creation of a level playing ground for all, what you have are mostly concessions being made to women on the basis of male perceived requirements and needs.

To me, gender equality that would contribute to the entrenchment of peace should be grounded on giving EVERYONE equal opportunity. Women shouldn’t beg or fight for ‘their’ rights, they should be free to be part of the society to the best of their abilities without their sex being a condition for ‘granting’ them concessions.

Considering the natural compassionate nature of women, their participation in world issues on an equal basis would certainly reduce the tendency of our society to be violent.

Gender and Sex – My reflections

The International Labour Office (2000) definition of gender as quoted in the handbook is comprehensive and explicit.

Gender is defined by the ILO as:
The social differences and relations which are learned, vary widely among societies, and changes over time… They condition which activities; tasks and responsibilities are perceived as male and female. Gender roles are affected by age, class, race, ethnicity, and religion, and by the geographical, economic and political environment.

Sex is a purely biological description, which serves to define males and females on the basis of their biological features.

Reflecting on the ILO definition, we are able to gender as having to do with the various limitations and divisions that are forced upon our consciousness directly or indirectly in the sociological process of growing up and functioning in our various societies.

These sometimes silent and invisible divisions really place limitations on what a person can do, or aspire to become in the socio-political and economic spheres of existence in the society.

In most of our societies, gender limitations affect women more than men. Because women are conditioned to be seen, and in fact, see themselves as being only created to fit into ONLY some limited set of roles.

This conditioning, subtly imprinted upon our subconsciousness, and thus imbibed and accepted as the laid down norms of the society as we grow up, confines women basically home keeping roles. Even when allowed access to education, they are conditioned to be seen and also see themselves as being fit for certain predefined occupations, mostly in auxiliary or support roles.

The age long perception of women being the ‘weaker sex’ might have been accepted as being valid in the past centuries, but in today’s world, proofs abound of women being able to effectively function and excel in virtually all fields of human endeavour.

The diverse fields of Astronomy, medicine, ICT, sports, engineering, education and economics are all filled with women who have proven that the biological differences between human males and females doesn’t put either sex at an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to occupational achievements.


One innocent putting himself through the pangs of hunger and thirst was able to bring legislators to support an anti-corruption that had previously been on the verge of being thrown out.
The victory of this Non-violent protest by Ana Hazare is a huge boost to the practice of peace education. It shows that structural violence can be confronted with non-violent means.

Some people might say the legislators took the decision for political reasons, (to avoid a backlash from their voters who could refuse re-electing them if they are seen as supporting corruption); but the fact that Mr Hazare’s hunger strike brought them to take action to support the social transformation efforts against corruption, is the most important issue in it all!

Ghandi, King, Mandela all used the potent power of non-violent protest in different forms to contribute to the positive transformation of their societies. Mr Hazare’s efforts and the success so far, show that with proper implementation, Non-violence is still a very viable and viable tool in effecting social transformation of realities.

The world is going through a phase where unarmed masses are defeating armies of tyrannical dictators all over the world. Non-violence was, is, and will be a good tool of putting pressure on oppressors.

When many people heard of Friday’s suicide bomb attack on the UN office here in Nigeria, they might be tempted to accepted the publicly announced reasons for the attack as being the work of an Islamist radical group that is against Western lifestyle.

Deeper reflection will reveal a more complex myriad of reasons! So many questions beg for answers for everyone, the government, the Boko Haram Sect, and even the general populace.

 Did the Nigerian security agencies have any information on the activities of this group prior to violent attacks in 2009?

 If the security agencies had any information, was any action taken to monitor or curb their activities?

 Were their activities prior to 2009 in any way against the law or tended towards illegality?

 When they took up arms in 2009 and were crushed militarily, and their leader arrested, why was he and other members of the group who had been arrested alive summarily executed by the Police?

 Does the public corruption and misappropriation/mismanagement of public funds by public officials create an atmosphere in which discontent could breed and be seized upon by violent groups like these?

 What effects did the actions the military joint task force deployed into Maiduguri have making the situation worse?

 Is the present composition of the Government Mediation committee fair and credible enough to effectively bring peace?

 Are the ideals promoted by the BOKO HARAM in consonance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet?

 Does BOKO HARAM believe peace; in its intrapersonal, interpersonal, global and spiritual forms is the end goal of all our struggles on earth?

 Does BOKO HARAM think violence can lead to peace?

 Do both the Government and BOKO HARAM agree that the only way to stop is to STOP?

 Why don’t the elders in the society stand up to speak to all sides and save our nation from this unnecessary violence?

Are we going to look on as our children grow up being exposed to this violence and thus become malformed personalities with hidden anger embedded in their psyche?

Recognition and Celebration of individual students’ backgrounds and stories in the Classrooms

The background of my students and their diverse stories play an important part in the design and implementation of our learning activities.

When faced with a classroom of students from diverse backgrounds, I usually try integrating these differences into the learning materials. By creating learning materials that allow students to express their cultures this allows the others to understand them better.
Such learning materials usually include:

 Ms PowerPoint presentations highlighting:
o Names of different things in diverse languages,
o Counting (1 – 20) in different languages,
o Local foods of different tribes,
o Tenets of the various religious faiths,
o Dressing styles of different cultures.

 Bulleted/Numbered lists in Ms Word outlining different aspects of diverse cultures.

 Use of online search engines to learn about foreign cultures and lifestyles.

Apart using the learning materials to teach students about the pluralities of our cultural heritages, I regularly make sure there is one question in the weekly group homework that requires the students to learn something about another culture other than theirs. Examples of such questions could be: -
 Using nested lists, write out 5 important crops from different parts of Nigeria.

 Design a ‘Happy New Year’ greeting card with the words “HAPPY NEW YEAR” written on the card in 5 different local languages.

What amuses me is that the more the students get talking about their backgrounds and diverse cultures, the more you see previously strongly held misconceptions and prejudices being cleared up.

Another important feature of my classrooms is the cooperative group approach , which ensures that the students learn, and work together in a group. Strong relationships are built as a result of collaborating on the various learning activities. This relationship really breaks down many barriers among the students, you see many reclusive or shy students opening up and participating radiantly in learning activities.

Cognitive and Attitudinal objectives of Multicultural Education in the classroom – My Reflections

At admission, we normally divide our students into batches, with each Batch of 8 – 12 students making up one class.

Among the criteria considered when dividing the class into classes is Diversity. Each class is made up of students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths. As for the girls, if they are between 1 and 3; they are placed in the same class. But if they are more than 4, they are divided into different classes, at least 2 per class. This eliminates a situation where you have a single female in an all male classroom.

Right from the start of the programme, we ensure the learners are made to understand that they are fellow travellers in their quest for ICT skills at the school.

The importance of cooperation is stressed during the initial orientation with special emphasis on getting the learners to understand each person is gifted with his/her unique skills and personality traits and that it is only by seeing each other as brothers and sisters, they can work together and thus learn together and from one another.

Though most of the orientation sessions are lecture-style classes; the teacher’s main objective during this period is to actually to get the students to know each other, loosen up, and feel free in the new school environment.

When coordinating the orientation classes, one of my styles is to get every student to stand up and introduce him/herself, telling the class his/her names, town of origin and his best local food! It is usually the last part that loosens up the atmosphere in the class. When someone tells the class about the local food s/he loves most, many times, you have the class erupting into laughter or thunderous handclapping. At such a point, I usually come in and chip in that while people’s choices of likes may differ from ours, that doesn’t make them into ‘aliens’. And such we should not ridicule or look down at them on the basis of this or any other reason.

When the classes proper begin, the classes are further divided into groups of 2 – 3. which is how they’d progress through the course.

Coming from a multicultural background myself, I am able to convincingly guide the students to accept each other as one, no matter their differences.

Our learning materials are designed to be used in integrated thematic approaches. Our learning activities allow students share their stories in the class. For example, our last graduands learnt Ms PowerPoint using materials they collected themselves about the local foods and clothing styles of different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Each group researched into, and got materials from 5 ethnic groups, which were now used to create a 6 – slide Presentation made up of pictures of clothing styles and foods from the different regions.

The above and many other like it helps the students learn about cultures other than theirs.

We, the instructors are always ready to answer questions on cultural misconceptions and if we don’t have the answer, the question becomes is usually used a class-wide homework assignment, and by the next class, we mostly have more information they we needed

Personally, I think the teacher has a very important role to play in determining if the students work and learn in a discrimination free environment or not.

If the teacher is prejudiced himself, it will reflect in his teaching styles and thus transfer to the students’ attitudes. But if the teacher is actually seen to be tolerant, understanding and respectful towards the students’ diverse cultures and faiths, there is great hope that the students will also adopt these ideals.

By having students research into other cultures and use the information gathered for their ICT classes, they are able to see the similarities and/or differences and it also helps them understand the reasons for some peculiarities of some tribes or cultures.

In my classes, I usually allow free question period when students are able to ask general questions about the society even if the questions are not ICT related.

Sometimes when a question comes up which I think a student could answer (Maybe it is about his culture or faith), I ask the student to give us an answer before coming in to make additions or clarifications

A Society without discriminations – My reflections

My society without discriminations will mean a society where:-

 People of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds have a sense of belonging in the society.

 Everyone sees himself as being “at home” and not as a “settler” or “alien”.

 Every faith understands the values held dear by other faiths and respects them.

 Everyone is willing to volunteer and contribute his/her skills and other resources to the developing of the society.

 When misunderstandings or misconceptions come up, everyone is willing to LISTEN to the viewpoints of others and even if don’t agree with theirs, are willing to respect them as being valid beliefs of some other fellow beings with whom they share the duty of sustaining and developing their society.

If discriminations would simply vanish from my society, public schools will become better places for the learners, because quality teachers will be employed even if they aren’t indigenes of the area. Likewise, the health sector will certainly witness a positive change and growth as more professionals will feel free to come here and work in the public and private health institutions.

You’d have youths of diverse cultures attending the same schools and have a rich cultural experience in our classes, with every part feeling duly represented and free to participate in curricular and extracurricular activities

With discriminations eliminated, violent attacks caused by religious and ethnic differences among people will simply become things of the past.

One group that will certainly benefit a lot from a discrimination-free society are women; with more unrestricted access to quality education, women will have opportunities to acquire education to higher levels and thus be able to hold positions that will enable them influence policies in the future. With greater access to education for girls, tomorrow’s society will be made up of enlightened women who will be less vulnerable to discriminations.

The society is still predominantly conservative, but with the various ongoing efforts to build cooperation and understanding among youths, we’d get there someday soon.

As mentioned earlier, my NGO (http://www.yppjf.org) and my school (http://www.mitaedu.com) are equal opportunity organizations whose activities are built on the basis of equality, compassion and cooperation, all designed with the peace of our society in mind.

Our communal Peace Building Forum, which I mentioned in an earlier post, is really making an impact.

Multicultural Education As A Component For Promoting Peace

We all look at the world through various self-created or society imposed lenses that may sometimes be colored or out rightly distorted or warped.

These lenses through which we view the actions and experiences of other people are actually based on our personal experiences and sociocultural backgrounds, which may actually not be similar to that of the other person. We all have some set of ideals and beliefs, which we regard to be “Right” and others we classify as being “Wrong”.

Coming from a multicultural parental origin, I have had reasons to disagree with some misconceptions that feed prejudices and discriminations in my society. But I always sought to find out the reasons why people why some people say, do, or believe in different aspects of their cultures. I have grown to be less judgmental to people’s viewpoints even when they are opposite of mine. I ensure I state my views and allow you to state yours, if I am able to spot misconceptions in your view, I guide you to see them. If you still hold on to them, at least I have made you aware of how I feel about your views. This awareness could lead to critical examination of these views you are holding.

There are diverse extreme viewpoints on virtually every subject under the sun. So I am ever ready to hear some new view I had previously never heard. In questioning the veracity or logic of a view, I am sometimes forced to examine my own views. So, it is a situation of no one is right and no one is wrong, we are all striving towards making tomorrow’s world a better place. And we can only build a better culture from the amalgamation of the best practices of the diverse cultures we presently have.

I was born into a Muslim family of mixed cultural heritage, attended a Christian mission-run Nursery/Primary School, attended a Islamic Koranic Madrasat, attended a secular Secondary school and polytechnic, trained as an ICT technician/educator; I have travelled to, and lived in five different countries within the African continent (Nigeria, Niger, Libya, Algeria & Burkina Faso).

The width of my background, has allowed me to experience diverse socio-cultural realities, I have learnt to understand that to truly understand a person or group, you simply had to be willing to dig beyond the immediate, perceived reality. You need to look beyond what a person is saying or doing now. You need to understand why s/he is saying or doing so.

With my foray into the ICT world which luckily speaks only one global language of “Ones” and “Zeroes”, coupled with my interactions with people through the World Wide Web, I am mostly concerned with understanding the WHY of other peoples’ actions and words rather than imposing my view on them. Who knows, we might both proven wrong in the future!

There is always the temptation to try getting others to adopt your viewpoints (especially on issues you feel very knowledgeable or hold strong convictions about); but I don’t think it should be a case of imposition or assimilation, it’d be much better to put my views and supporting evidences (if any) on the tale and get you to do the same. Then we could both work through the similarities and possible contradictions with a view to understanding why each of us holds his/her view.

Like I mentioned earlier, there are people who take extreme stances on issues, but most of the times, an attentive listening ear with an open mind could bring even the core extremists to re-examine their stances.

Many people hold on to biases and prejudices, which they simply inherited or acquired, unchallenged from their society. Asking them “Why” could lead them to ask question their views and possibly reach a new realization that could lead to a positive transformation

On a personal note, taking such an open-minded approach brings me to face some questions on my views and beliefs myself. Instead of going on the defence, it serves me as a two-way process, if I tell I believe in something and you question my belief with strong facts, I am forced to reflect on these beliefs and could possibly come up with some answers that could make both me and you better people.

Multicultural understanding and peace – My reflections

Multicultural understanding among peoples of the world is a very necessary component for promoting peace.

Multicultural education aims at guiding learners to imbibe and develop a sense of respect and appreciation for the various ways in which humans differ – cultural, religious beliefs, linguistic, or otherwise. By having this sense of respect and appreciation instilled in them, learners are better able to cultivate the necessary values of tolerance for views different from theirs. And thus develop greater capacity to look at issues from the point of views of others.

Better multicultural understanding will help further Multicultural education’s aims of providing education for all students. When the barriers of racial and gender discriminations are eliminated, there is great hope that every child will have access to good education in his local community.

With better multicultural understanding, and greater acceptance of, and appreciation for cultures different from ours, we certainly will cultivate and develop a respect for the fundamental humanity of all mankind.

Once we are able to imbibe the acceptance and respect for the humanity of all people, we are less likely to promote prejudices and discriminations in our societies.

Principles of Multicultural Education – My reflections

As stated in the handbook, the key principles of Multicultural education are: -

 The theory of Cultural pluralism
This principle of Multicultural education seeks to guide learners to learn and accept the reality that our world is populated with people from diverse cultures, and also to know and accept that every culture has its own unique sways of life which its members hold as “sacred” or “right”.

 Ideals of Social Justice and end of racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudices and discriminations.
This principle of Multicultural education seeks to guide learners to imbibe the concepts of social justice as a universal concept which aims at create a level playing ground for all people of the world in all facets of human endeavour irrespective of their gender, race or other incidental differences.

Multicultural education seeks to guide learn about the various discriminations and prejudices that have become ingrained in our psyche over time as human beings, and guide them further to question the logic or appropriateness of these biases, and also realize the negative effects of these prejudices on fellow humans.

With the above realization, learners should then be able to see reasons why they should imbibe and uphold due respect for multiculturalism and also be ready to take action against prejudices and discriminations.

 Affirmation of Culture in the teaching and learning process.

Multicultural education seeks to ensure that the teaching and learning process is designed and implemented with due recognition and acceptance given to the diversity of cultures in our societies.

As educators, this is very important in to classroom practice, we should ensure that our classroom practice (and where possible, the curriculum) is designed and implemented to highlight the richness of our diverse socio-cultural realities. We have to be very careful to ensure our subject matter, learning activities, teaching styles, and relationships with our students don’t make any group feel alienated.
Nothing is worse than a learner being made to fee inferior among peers on account of his/her gender, race, faith, or other difference!

 Vision of Educational equality and excellence leading to high levels of academic learning for all children and Youths (Quezada & Romo, 2004, Pg 4)

By seeking to eliminate all forms of prejudices and discriminations, Multicultural education is actually working towards freeing up the personalities of the learners.
With the various prejudices and discriminations eliminated, learners are thus able to achieve a sense of intrapersonal peace, which will in turn translate into better interpersonal relationships in which everyone feels free to express his/her personality to the fullest and is able to appreciate the personalities of peers.

Global Citizenship Education, Curriculum, and Classroom practice

Personally, I don’t think I’d need to make many changes to my present current or classroom practice to make my students see themselves as citizens, and thus behave as such.

The ICT courses I teach are universal in nature and I ensure my students see themselves as acquiring skills and knowledge that many others elsewhere in the world are also learning.

It really builds a sense of belonging to a global community in the students when they are guided to see the skills and knowledge they are acquiring as tools that will make them able to effectively interact with their peers and other people the world over.

Knowing that the Computer Applications they are learning are the same as is being used in China or Ghana , really helps them see themselves as members of a global community of Computer literate youths.

Being Computer literate and able to use the acquired ICT skills to interact with the outside world offers them an opportunity to share their stories and learn from those of other cultures through ICT tools that are universal in nature.

The ICT tools which they learn makes them see themselves as equal partners with their peers from other places, thus eliminating inferiority complexes which sometimes leads to unfounded prejudices.

The Internet appreciation component of our curriculum seeks to guide our students to learn the benefits of using ICT tools for communication, collaboration, and cooperation.

By being guided to acquire knowledge and skills about using the Internet for communication (email, discussion groups, chat etc), our students are able to participate in that the diverse online discourse that allows them to better the diverse socio-cultural realities that exist in our world. Instead of relying on half-truths and mostly false myths, they are able to learn about other cultures from direct sources.

Many of our students are already using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter for interacting with friends. Our task is mostly to guide them to understand the various ethical, privacy and legal issues about using ICT tools.

In my context, my curriculum is already designed to equip our students to effectively function in today’s ICT- driven world that is getting smaller by the day. By knowing that with a simple click and a few taps on their keyboard, they ;could be in touch with another part of the world, they feel part of something bigger than their local community.

Many of their practical learning activities lead them to research for information about other countries, which gives them a glimpse into the existence of other cultures, and they are guided to see similarities between these “foreign” cultures and theirs.

Myself as a Global citizen – My reflection

I consider myself as a global citizen in every sense of the world.
I look upon the whole world as my constituency, a world to which I feel obliged to ensure I contribute to its sustenance and development.

I see all fellow inhabitants of the Earth, as fellow workers with whom I have to create and maintain a harmonious relationship for our mutual existence on be peaceful, successful, and worthwhile.

Coming from a multicultural background, I have seen and experienced the negative effects of sectionalism in its many forms, and this has brought me to a realization that unquestioned allegiance to one country actually puts you in a position whereby you have to reject and people from some other countries, simply because you are citizens of different countries.

I am a Nigerian by birth and in the context of citizenship as presently understood, owe my allegiance to the Nigerian nation, but I have come a point in my life most of life’s works have a global perspective to them. I have come a realization that I cannot exist in narrow confines of being a Nigerian; I have a lot contributed to the wider world, and also have a lot to gain from other around the world.

As a local ICT educator teacher Computer Applications her in Kano, my outlook to my work is that of equipping my students with occupational skills that prepare to become functional contributors to a global society. Integration of Peace education concepts like respect for diversity, multiculturalism, cooperation, non-violence etc. helps my students better equipped to see the world with a more open mind. They are prepared to be able to function in today’s globalized world.

My NGO activities encompass a lot of issues like social justice activism and youth empowerment. I am actively involved in the activities of many local and global organizations that are actively involved in rights issues and a good example of a successful collaboration was the case of an African immigrant in the US who faced unjust deportation with her daughter earlier this year. Through my NGO’s petitions in collaboration with international partners, we started an e-petition that brought her a review of her case. By seeing myself as my brother’s keeper, I hold to the conviction that whatever little I do is more or less as if I am helping myself! I could be the one who is stuck, and I’d expect the same.

Another example is the ongoing non-violent protest in India, by showing Ana Hazare our support, he knows he not alone and the world is with him. Anticorruption in India will mean public funds from there will not be stolen and thus depriving local masses of basic amenities they deserve as a right. If I think it doesn’t concern me, I may in fact find myself relocating to India tomorrow; I’d also suffer the direct of the corruption Mr Hazare is fighting against!

My volunteering activities with UNV, SBTF, and others have afforded me a great opportunity to play a useful role in various crisis-mapping efforts across the world.

My personal and professional relationships with other colleagues and organizations all over the world have really helped me feel more of a global citizen than just a Nigerian.

Global Citizenship Education and Peace – My reflections

For a culture of peace to be firmly established in our world, there is absolute need for all inhabitants of Mother Earth to cultivate a sense of belonging and allegiance to the wider world.

As long as we see ourselves as citizens as citizens of individual countries, there is the tendency to promote and be ready to defend national interests up to the level of being ready to enter into or initiate violent conflicts with other countries when there are conflicts of interests/ideologies, or beliefs.

As the concept of Positive peace being the presence of social justice, and the absence of structural violence characterized by harmonious social relations and the integration of human society, will only become a reality if all inhabitants of the Earth are able to imbibe and adopt a globalized perspective to all issues starting from the local to the global.

Global citizenship education is important to world peace because it is only by seeing ourselves as having a responsibility to protecting the world as a whole, and understanding that the actions and events in one part of the world have direct consequences on other parts of the world, that we can truly feel committed to uphold the ideals of global citizenship and working on the basis these ideals.

Though we all originate from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds, proper integration and acceptance of Global Citizenship education will make our learners cultivate an inclination to imbibe the concepts of a global culture of peace as outlined in the United Nations’ Assembly Declaration of 1999.

International peace and security will be more an inclusive international collaborative effort for the whole world instead of the present WE vs. THEM situation we have in the world.

The various ideals encompassed in the Culture of Peace Models are universal in nature and all societies, cultures and faiths certainly have a reason for adopting and implementing them. If today’s learners are guided to see themselves as global citizens, they will certainly be less disposed to taking up arms in the name of protecting parochial national interests. They’d be more prepared to use non-violent conflict resolution methods to sort out whatever differences that may crop up among countries as they grow. They’d have the realization that there is only one interest to protect, the global interest!

If learners are well guided to acquire skills, knowledge, and attitude/values that make up the core ideas of Global Citizenship Education, it is expected that they’d grow up with the capacity to feel allegiance to the wider World as their “country” instead of holding on to the narrow, exclusive idea of national citizenship.


The various documents highlighted in the section will serve as good tools for teaching learners for and about peace.

By making the learners comprehend their rights they are entitled to as human beings as enshrined in these documents, it will certainly help them achieve a good level of awareness of the interconnected nature of rights and responsibilities.

They'd be able to understand that just as they have rights which most be protected and promoted, they also have a responsibility of protecting/promoting the rights of others. This knowledge will help them reach an understanding that any violation of one right infringes on others.

These documents will also have serve as means of education for peace by guiding learners to understand the global legal status of these international instruments. This will also guide them to understand that if there be need, the contents of these documents are actually Enforceable to protect and promote human rights in any part of the world.

Human Rights as a subject in the classroom – My Reflections

Human rights can seem truly abstract to many people, especially those living in societies where the protection and promotion of human rights is not considered a priority.

To a child growing up in North Korea, China, Algeria, Somalia or many other countries; the concepts of having some inalienable rights as a human being may really sound abstract and unreal.

It is therefore important for educators to guide learners to see the interconnected nature of our world and help them understand that they have some basic rights, which are globally accepted, by all countries. Learners living in countries with poor Human Rights records need to be guided to understand that simply because their governments doesn’t respect, protect and promote these rights those not in any way negate their existence, validity and incumbency.

In my local context, teaching learners to acquire skills and knowledge that will enable them recognize their rights and maintain a proactive stance in the enforcement of these rights will require: -

1. Firstly guiding them to understand the interconnected nature of global relations.

2. Guiding them to understand the system of international conventions and the legal binding effects of the various Instruments signed at these conventions.

3. Guiding them to understand the various possible civil pressures that could be exerted to persuade governments to sign up to International Rights instruments, if they haven’t done so.

4. Guiding them to identify key local and global institutions and organizations that are actively involved in human rights issues.

5. Guide them to understand the human rights situation in our society by researching into human rights struggles and see if any results were achieved as a result of the efforts.

6. Guide them to understand the concepts of human rights in the context of their local religious and cultural realities.

Children rights is a sensitive topic in most of out local societies and in my local context, I have to take into consideration the cultural and sometimes religious interpretation s of who the child is taken to be.

In some of our local communities, the child is expected only to be seen, but never heard. S/he is expected to be totally submissive to laid down norms even if they infringe upon his/her basic human rights as enshrined in the CRC!
Any complaint or protest against the status quo may mark the child as “undisciplined”, “rude” etc.
In my local society, there is little or no opportunity for initiating action to prevent or stop human rights violations. The social welfare structure for monitoring and preventing child abuse is nearly nonexistent.

To ensure a transformation of this reality will actually require being able to get everyone concerned to see the protection and promotion of children’s rights as a worthwhile venture that has multiple benefits for everyone.

With the learners guided to understand their rights and knowing the available mechanisms for protecting these rights, and parents guided to understand the positive effects of protecting and promoting these rights; Human Rights Education will definitely have a meaning in the life of the society.
Child labour, forced marriages, denial of access to education, child-sexual abuse, physical abuse etc.. are not uncommon in the society and they are strongly defended with porous cultural and religious reasons.

It is possible to get a remedy if the children are guided to understand their rights and know the available avenues for seeking help if these rights are violated.

Parents on the other hand need to be made to see the dangers in the various rights abuses and how they damage the child’s normal development and stunt his/her future potentials.

In guiding child learners to understand the concepts of human rights; I, as an educator must put the above considerations in mind. It will be most feasible to guide the learners to acquire persuasive engagement skills especially when dealing with perceived violations in their immediate environments especially in their homes.

Many parents out here still hold on to the notion that their unilateral decisions in the home are final and not open to any debate or suggestion. They believe that children are never to question the rationality, objectivity, fairness or legality of their parents’ decisions, even if the decisions directly affect the children themselves. I such families, it is forbidden for children to ever ask “WHY?”

Where feasible, it is useful for a teacher to get to know parents of his/her students. This could give the teacher an added opportunity of educating them on the potential positive effects the promotion and protection of children rights can have on the all-round development of the children.

A Parents-Teacher discussion forum could be organized once in while to give students a better understanding of the rights their children are entitled to.

This will prevent possible misconceptions from illiterate conservative parents who may misconstrue the Human Rights Education efforts as being designed to weaken their authority, or to turn their children against them.

CRC My Reflections

While the principles of the UDHR also cover children, they have the special status of being dependent on adults for the protection and promotion of their rights. This has made it necessary to have additional instruments to protect and promote their rights.

In the CRC, the peculiar rights that are especially applicable to children are stated and thus make their rights expressly stated without being subjected to the whims of some adults who may or may not have their interests at heart.

By having their rights explicitly stated in the CRC, children have these distinct rights which no individual or institution can arbitrarily violate or revoke.

The CRC is basically divided into three thus:
 SURVIVAL AND DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS: these ensure children have access to resources, skills, and contributions necessary for the full development of their full potentials. So, children have an unalienable right to be provided with access to conducive training facilities/environments that will enable them nurture their natural skills/knowledge, and also acquire other necessary skills/knowledge to ensure they grow and mature into effective members of the society.

 PROTECTION RIGHTS: -These rights include protection from all types of abuse (Parental, structural discriminations, forced labour, sexual abuses etc.). They also seek to ensure that the society takes proper care of their needs to ensure an all round development. They are ensured the rights to be protected from all forms of cruelty, physical, psychological etc.

 PARTICIPATION RIGHTS: - The CRC states explicitly that children should have the rights to actively participate in matters concerning all facets of their lives.
Thus, the society is expected to put in place structures to allow children an opportunity to participate fully in matters that affect their society.
They are not to be discriminated against on the basis of their age when they seek to participate in societal issues. When decisions are to be taken especially on issues that directly affect the youths, their input must be sought and integrated into the final decision.

On the whole, the CRC explicitly identifies and states the basic rights that must be universally respected.
No individual or institution should make itself into a sole-decider of what rights to grant children in the context of the rights outlined in the CRC.

We live in societies where all decisions about societal matters are taken by adults-filled institutions, and without an instrument like the CRC, children will have their whole existence subject only to the decision of adults who may probably not have full compassion for or adequate understanding of what the children really need to grow up into effective and functional members of the society.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The key principles of the UDHR as outlined by Nancy Flowers (1999) are:
 EQUALITY: - According to Article 1 of the UDHR “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

The principles of equality means all human beings are entitled to live their lives without any form of enslavement or being subjected to any form of condition that in any violates, infringes or debases on their dignity as human beings.

This principle makes void all forms of slavery (physical, economic or otherwise) and makes it incumbent for all human beings to be considered and accepted as being equal, without any bias.

 Universality: - Human rights are universal, based on moral and ethical values that are shared across all cultures in the world. Though human rights may differ in the way different people experience and enjoy them in their community, they are basically accepted to apply to the whole world. Thus, any infringement on the accepted basic principles of human rights is condemnable and unacceptable.

 Non-discrimination: - This principle states that all human beings are entitled to enjoy these basic human rights without any bias due to racial, gender or other differences, both real and imaginary.

 Interdependence: - Living in a multicultural world in which all beings are interconnected, the promotion of the rights of one person supports the rights of others. Any infringement on the human rights of one person detracts from that of others.

Therefore, promoting the human rights of one person is actually promoting the rights of humanity as a whole.

 Indivisibility: - This principle states that human rights in all its forms should be regarded, as one indivisible body and thus, no part should be taken apart and violated.

Responsibility: -Responsibility for the protection and promotion of human rights falls on both governments and individuals.

The governments have a responsibility to function in a way and manner that will ensure human rights of all citizens are respected and promoted. Governments must be run to ensure that all kinds of actions that are in themselves dehumanizing, or could lead to the violation of the human rights of the citizens are avoided as official policy. In addition to avoiding direct human rights violations, appropriate civil structures must be put in place to prevent violations and enforce commensurate penalties where actual violations take place.

The citizens on the other hand, have the responsibility of ensuring they maintain a proactive stance towards the protection and promotion of human rights. They must also be willing and ready to effectively use the appropriate structures to hold individuals and institutions to account.

He, who keeps quite in the face of tyranny, can be classified as being supportive o


The key point of human rights education can be summarized as follows: -

 Promoting knowledge of the rights in the UDHR and other International rights conventions and treaties; ways to promote these rights and mechanisms for handling rights violations. Human rights education aims at promoting the knowledge of the various rights outlined in the international instruments and the available means for promoting these rights, and the available mechanisms for handling violations.
 Human Rights education seeks to make all people accept human dignity as a fundamental principle to be observed throughout the society.
 Human rights education also seeks to raise awareness about the connection between Human Rights issues and other social problems in the society

In summary, Human Rights education can be said to be focused on empowering learners with knowledge about Human rights as enshrined in the various international instruments and the various means through which these rights can be promoted. Human rights education also aims at empowering learners with diverse skills with which they can effectively use existing mechanisms and institutions to handle Human Rights violations.

Sample Lesson on Disarmament education

In modifying the sample lesson for a class of young adults taking Computer appreciation training, I’d make the learners focus on: -
 The monetary costs of armed conflicts;
 The negative effects of armed conflicts on the normal day-to-day lives of children c aught up in conflict areas.
 The psychological and physical trauma suffered by women and children in conflict areas


Disarmament education could be integrated into a training session on the use of Internet search engines to source for information online.

Learners could be divided into groups to use acquired online search techniques. Each group would be assigned one or two of the following sub-topics on Disarmament education:
 At least 3 different definitions of Disarmament.
 List of at least 10 dangerous arms used in armed conflicts;
 Information/news on an armed conflict in Africa using Wikipedia;
 News pictures of armed conflicts sourced from online sites;
 Information on the effects of the armed conflicts on the lives of children in the affected areas (education, health, nutrition, Industries, Forced migration (internal and external),
 Information about global efforts on disarmament.

The learners will then be guided to learn how to copy information from WebPages (text/images) and then paste it into Ms Word to create a Conflict review report to be printed and bound. It will also be a good opportunity to teach the learners about copyright issues on the Internet.

Each group will then be guided to use the contents of its report to create an Ms PowerPoint Slideshow highlighting the key points of its research.

In-group discussions will have to be facilitated regularly to allow group members actively debate their various findings and thus comprehend the problems brought about by a militarised approach to conflict resolution.

By the end of the term/session, groups will then share copies of their reports with other groups.

The teacher to discuss the findings of all the groups should then facilitate a general class discussion session.

As the Moderator of such a session, I’d pick up highlights that are recurring in all the reports and throw up the main topics up for general class consideration.

I’d also try directing the sessions towards asking the learners to proffer suggestions on what they feel WE can do ensure our community does not experience an armed conflict.

The key points of the discussion sessions will be written down, used in creating an Ms PowerPoint Slideshow. The important parts used in shaping the tone for next discussions.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


In the Nigerian context, teaching Disarmament education will face some challenges like those listed below, but with commitment and proper methods of initiation and implementation, the educator can certainly make an impact:
1. The already ingrained culture of acceptance of military intervention as being the sure cure to conflicts is one element that would need a very tactical approach from the educator to overcome.

Most Nigerian have grown up with this erroneous acceptance belief that the use of arbitrary force by the security institutions of government when dealing with outbreaks of violent conflicts is the only effective way of restoring peace.

In attempting to teach young learners about disarmament issues, an educator will need to initially guide them to understand the various alternative conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms available.

2. The overall security situation in the country could, at best, be described as ineffectual. Violent crimes limed armed robbery, rape, kidnap, oil bunkering etc occur at alarming rates and the security apparatus of the state have not proved themselves to be well equipped and capable of confronting and apprehending perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

We thus have a sense of insecurity pervading the society who mostly feel the security agencies need to be equipped with more firearms.

To guide learners to adopt the concepts of disarmament as a possible way of achieving a peaceful society will require guiding them to comprehend the existence and effectiveness of other less violent policing methods by security agencies. They will need to be guided to accept these other methods like community policing and use of high-tech security techniques to combat crimes.

3. Another unfortunate reality is the fact that many legitimate complaints of marginaliztion and discrimination in the polity went unattended to for years, until the agitators took to militant actions. These militant efforts in many cases were the only way that actually got the government to listen to these complaints.

Examples of militancy by Niger-Delta youths, Bakassi Boys in the South East, OPC in the South West, and lately Boko Haram in the North East seem to have achieved success, because it led the government to accept existence of these agitations and initiate steps to make amends.

With the above background, integrating disarmament education into my learning activities will actually mean guiding the learners to see and accept the alternatives to an armed society and it has to be noted that the best approach will be to blend the learning activities with other Peace education concepts like Non-violence and Peace conflict resolution.

A great idea would be to guide learners to understand the costs of war/violence on the society. For example researching into the financial costs of the damage caused by armed conflicts and guiding them to imagine what socio-economic infrastructure could have been put in place with the funds that are used for reconstruction and relief efforts during and after crises.


Like rightly noted on page 19 in the Section on Disarmament education, “while peace education is more than just the absence of war, the absence of war is an absolute component for creating a culture of peace”.

To create and ensure the sustenance of a culture of peace, it is absolutely necessary to put an end to violent conflicts. And one of the first steps that must be taken is the limiting, controlling and possibly eliminating the proliferation of arms in our societies.

Wars are fought with arms and disarmament education is very central to the evolution of a culture of peace. Whatever is invested in guiding learners to imbibe the concepts of a culture of peace must be mixed with a complimentary effort to guide them to see the negative effects of a militarised world on the society.

In the Nigerian context, the effects of the Nigerian Civil wars of the 1960s and 70s, and the prolonged years of military rule has really militarised the polity with a of official and unofficial arms in circulation in the society, these weapons are used for criminal purposes and fuelling ethnic/religious conflicts around the country.

Coupled the already militarised nature of the society is the entrenchment of various forms of structural violence evidenced in the discriminations (direct and indirect) that exist throughout the Nigerian system.

In my immediate society, the effects of a militarised approach to societal organization is evident in the low level of socio-economic development which can be traced to higher priority being placed on statutory defence spending to the detriment of human development sectors like health, education and employment generation efforts.

Getting learners to see the direct linkage between the high spending on military spending and the current low level of socio-economic development would work best if the learners are guided to carry out research on the country’s budget in the past few years, and then compare the government’s spending on “defence and security” with that of other human development sectors like health or education.

A multi group approach will work best in a large class of teenagers and young adults. Some groups could focus on researching on the getting the financial costs of a militarised society, the human costs of violent conflicts and the costs of the destruction that occurs during violent conflicts. Some others could focus on researching the costs of building and sustaining a functional local community school or health centre, the current efforts on disarmament issues etc.

A direct linkage could also be made to guide learners to the relationship between the efforts of peace activism and disarmament.

We are lucky to have a Budget office that puts the various budgetary allocations online. These data will be helpful in getting learners to see the true reality of how the government places more priority on buying arms than building societal structures that could develop the nation and recognize the various efforts, both local and global that are in place to effect a change, and thus know how they could contribute by being part of this effort to make the society better.


Like all other aspects of peace education, disarmament education can be for or about peace, or both.

From my personal point of view, Disarmaments education can be designed and implemented to serve both purposes – empowering learners with knowledge about disarmament issues and at the same time, guiding them to acquire the skills and competencies that can make them feel inclined to taking effective, proactive actions towards transformation the current reality of a militarised world to one in which there will be no need for weapons.

While teaching them the negative effects armed world is having on their world, they’d also be guided to discover what practical steps they can take to ensure the society is able to reduce the spread and use of arms by learning about existing international and local efforts which they can become part of.


For a genuine culture of peace to be achieved, the current reality must be questioned, and sober reflection carried out on the discovery (ies) so that effective steps for transformation can be deduced and acted upon.

Critical pedagogy’s aim of empowering learners with the skills and capacity to critically examine realities makes it an important tool in Peace education.

Without being guided to acquire the skills and desire to question realities, learners will find it hard to make discoveries on their realities and their causes; and thereby be able to come up with possible solutions that could be used to effect transformation of the realities.

Though I basically teach Computer Application packages, it is very possible to integrate critical pedagogy into my class room practice by basing my learning activities on themes on our local reality which the learners will be guided to research and come up with data/information about how they came into being and their effects on our reality.

Further leaning activities could be fashioned out to guide the learners to use dialectic process critically examine the results of their researches from different angles, and come up with possible means of effecting changes in the context of existing mechanisms or mechanisms that could be created.

A good example will be a set of learning activities to guide students to research into statutory spending on the defence sector vis-à-vis the education or health sector, and then allow the learners reflect on the findings along two different propositions, e.g. The necessity for spending on defence to ensure territorial security, and the need to give education a higher priority to ensure the growth of more a enlightened populace that is more disposed to peaceful conflict resolution.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Critical peace pedagogy & critical peace education cannot be divorced from one another.

Critical peace education is the result of applying critical peace pedagogy to issues about the development and degradation of peace.

Critical pedagogy is focused on providing students with the skills that make possess the capacity to critically analyse their realities with the aim of reaching realizations that can help them positively effect transformation of the realities. Freire’s concept of praxis has had a great influence on the practice of critical pedagogy. Learners are guided to critically examine local realities, thus understand why things are the way they are, how they came to be, use this information to deduce what can possibly be done to change them for the better.

Instead of dealing with generalizations, and issues in the global context, critical pedagogy aims at cultivating critical consciousness in learners by guiding them to analyse local realities through in-depth research and critical examination.

Empowerment of the learner (through building in him/her the capacity for critical analysis) is strongly linked to social transformation. It is only empowered citizenry that can question their realities, and thereby effect positive transformation upon reflection.

Critical peace education uses critical pedagogy to guide learners to examine societal institutions, and how power imbalances create structural violence in the society.


For learning to foster peace in their lives, it is necessary to guide them to know and have a clear understanding of what a culture of peace really means, with direct linkage to the current local realities they can identify with in their immediate community.

They further need to know the various things that can contribute to the emergence and sustenance of a culture of peace, together with those things that are needed to promote its entrenchment and sustenance.

This knowledge should be tailored to make them understand their potential individual roles and the effects of their contributions to the cultivation, promotion and sustenance of a culture of peace from their local levels to the wider global level.

To embrace and promote peace, our students need to be empowered (with guidance and a conducive environment) to inculcate the skills, attitudes, and values that will make them adopt the culture of peace in themselves and go on further to propagate it in their various spheres of relationships.

They need to be guided to acquire the capacity for peaceful conflict resolution, mutual respect for diversity, cooperation etc.


The sample lesson is a good example of education for peace because it seeks to promote the values of sharing, cooperation and mutual respect for the interests of others. It seeks to guide learners to be “attentive” to others.

Through this lesson, the students are guided to learn to see things from the perspectives of other people. By guiding them to imbibe the habit of attentive listening, they cultivating an important social skill which will greatly profit them in their interpersonal relations as they go through life.

Using the group method, the students will imbibe the spirit of cooperative learning, which will in turn make them learn the value and usefulness of team efforts.

This lesson could serve as education about peace at the various points when the teacher comes in to explain the impact of the students’ efforts in building a culture of peace.


Education for peace is concerned about guiding people to acquire skills and knowledge that make them become proactive in cultivating and promoting peace. It is concerned with actual behavioural transformation by leading learners to acquire the skills and knowledge that will help them develop a culture of peace from inside out.
A good example is environmental education, it educates people about environmental issues and guides them to acquire skills and knowledge that will empower them to adopt environmentally friendly habits and be willing to promote environmental issues in their communities. Effective implementation of environmental education will make people aware of the various environmental hazards in their society and simultaneously make them develop a commitment to protecting the environment. A good example will be a learning activity in an Oil producing area, to guide learners to learn about the effects of oil spills and oil explorations on their environment. It will be a wake up call to participants.

Education for peace on the other hand focuses on education for the development and practice of institutions and processes that comprises a peaceful social order (Reardon, 1999).
This approach is mostly concerned with development or entrenchment of institutions that are concerned with avoiding, reducing or eliminating violence.
Conflict resolution education as education about peace would be concerned with equipping learners with skills and knowledge for mediation and peace restoration efforts.


All the three models outlined in the training module touch upon the active ingredients for the emergence and sustenance of a culture of peace and can be adapted to work from the level outwards to the global. But I feel more favourable attracted to the Flower model, it offers concise themes which can be further broken down into smaller components all through to the level of getting the students to actually work at tasks that are relevant to their current immediate realities.

By working on peace building tasks deduced from the basic themes of the Flower model, hover small the tasks may seem, the students will be able to find direct meaning in their tasks and thus be further encouraged to do more.

The UNESCO model, though understandably fashioned around an international outlook, seems to be most suited for global leadership levels and the omission of the intrapersonal harmony really leaves out what I will consider to be root of all human actions. All human actions and achievements are firstly conceived as thoughts in the minds of people and for a person to initiate and promote a culture of peace, it is essential that s/he achieve a proper balance of internal harmony. It is only by achieving inner peace that positive seeds that could lead to interpersonal peace sprout from a human mind.

Another omission I notice is the non inclusion (or should I say shying away) of religion or spirituality in the UNESCO model. Most humans profess one faith or the other and our actions are guided by the tenets of our various religious faiths and I feel it is essential to consider the spirituality of the individual when initiating efforts towards entrenching a culture of peace.

The individual components of the integral model are laudable in their own rights but I am not much at home with the arrangement of the model.


I believe the personal mood of the teacher affects the class he/she is teaching and in most cases, dictates the atmosphere during the classes.

With the above in mind, I have cultivated the habit of ensuring I prepare my learning activities before the time of the class. Prior to entering a class, I have a habit of mentally preparing myself for some minutes before starting a lesson. During this period, I say a silent prayer, take a deep breath and paste a smile on my face before going into the class.

This personal formula helps me get off the class on a peaceful note and allows me to bring out the enthusiasm in the students. Once I am able to make that connection, the actual task of teaching, guiding and instructing on the subject matter usually flows along harmoniously.

Promoting a culture of peace in the classroom is not about reading out dry, empty theories, definitions, and guidelines; I take it to be a process of creating and maintaining an environment that encourages every member of the class to feel inclined to live and work peacefully.

Conflicts are inevitable in any human relationship, and the classroom is no exception. One of my preferred methods for settling disputes among students is to get them to agree upon a mutually acceptable arbitrator (from other members of the class) and get aside for a discussion session. At the end of their discussions, if successful, I simply call them all together and outline the importance of peaceful coexistence. If there still remains an unsettled issue, I could then come and help them find ways of resolving them. In most cases, petty misunderstandings are usually resolved without needing my intervention. In fact, it is long ago since I had a case of verbal abuse or physical violence in among my students. They all take to this method very quickly.

To aid effective classroom management, at the beginning of the programme, I usually guide the class to set up a Code of Conduct to serve as a constitution for class conduct for everyone. I guide them to decide on the rules of acceptable behaviour, which we jointly agree on.

By making them part of the policy making process in the class, they mostly willing to follow the rules and thus eliminate conflicts that usually occur due to indiscipline in the classroom. If one student is doing something that goes against the class code of conduct, it is mostly the other students who bring them to order by reminding them of what we have earlier agreed upon.

I teach Computer Application packages ranging from the MS Office suite to the Corel Draw suite and some other packages. Being a hands-on practical programme, the students create works using the Application packages they are learning. I have created a body of sample learning materials that are based on different themes like Happiness, Peace, Poverty, Illiteracy, and Justice etc. The basic structures of these learning materials outlines the topics to be covered while I usually guide the students to provide inputs to use in building the works. As we go about learning the various computer operation techniques, the salient messages in the selected themes are brought up for discussion.

Examples of such learning materials include:
 Ms Word:
A letter to a local newspaper outlining measures that can be taken to reduce ethnic/religious conflicts in the community.

 Ms PowerPoint:
1. A slideshow with slides portraying cooperative efforts between people of different ethnic/religious groups.
2. Slideshow with slides on the effects on deforestation, with some proffered solutions.

 Ms Excel:
Spreadsheets on data about number of women and children who die from violent conflicts.

 Ms Access:
A database of successful collaborative efforts between diverse groups.

The list is in fact endless, and I am able to incorporate any current issue into the learning materials to educate the young minds on the concepts of the culture of peace and this allows them to understand its effects locally, nationally and globally.

My current pet project is being designed to guide my present crop of students to create a PowerPoint presentation and Pamphlets on the need for peaceful coexistence in our society.

The training programme is designed to run for 15 weeks and the students are currently in their 4th week. I intend moulding all their learning activities around the concept of peace and hope to showcase their works on the concept of a culture of peace at a ceremony at the end of their programme.

Being a practising teaching, I have the unique opportunity of using my teaching to guide my students to imbibe the culture of peace. This is a golden opportunity, which we as teachers have. My position as a teacher in the community also gives me further leverage to initiate and promote the culture of peace among our people.


Looking at the culture of peace from a broader perspective, I personally treasure the ideals of peaceful coexistence based on mutual respect between diverse cultures with due respect for Justice, tolerance and compassion.
Very essential to cultivating a culture of peace is the existence of a society in which every member feels a sense of belonging and is assured of transparency and justice in the administration of the society’s affairs.

As a firm believer in the necessity for justice and fairplay in the establishment and promotion of a culture of peace, I am involved in various non-violent activist efforts focused on liberating my society from many manifestations of structural violence.

For example, at the local level, my NGO (http://www.yppjf.org; http://www.change.org/yppj) is dedicated to an anticorruption crusade, which offers anticorruption orientation as a key component of its tuition-free skills acquisition training programmes. We actively organize campaigns and public lectures in our locality to sensitise youths about the ills of corruption especially as found in public institutions. Participants are enlightened on the options available to them when faced with corrupt officials or systems.

On a personal level, I am in a continuous state of reflecting on my thoughts, words and actions with a view to reducing and possibly eliminating perceived negative manifestations that could lead to conflicts in my relations both at the private levels and in my public/official interactions with other people. I have come to the realization that most interpersonal conflicts occur due to the refusal or inability of the parties involved to maintain a good level of interpersonal peace and cultivate the capability of being able to see things from the perspectives other people. Instead of seeing your action as being wrong, it might help to try seeing why you decided to act that way.

My immediate community, being multicultural in composition is prone to eruption of physical violence among the diverse ethnic and religious groups that cohabit together, this is mostly due to the existence of various forms of structural violence in the society and the hard-line and uncompromising stance mostly taken by each side on issues.

In my role as a teacher, I always ensure that all my students learn to see each other as co-traveller in the pursuits of skills and knowledge without prejudices on account of race, sex or religious beliefs. Misconceptions about cultures and religious beliefs are usually brought up for discussion in my classes, critically examined and clarifications found to help the learners understand about the beliefs, values and cultures of others different from themselves. This usually helps in making them cultivate a spirit of mutual respect and love among them

At the community level, I am actively involved in peace building efforts among the diverse groups we have. Being of multicultural origins myself, I am able to act as a bridge between the people, helping clearing false myths, misconceptions and outright falsehoods that could otherwise lead to conflicts.

The May 2011 post-election riots here in Kano, led to the loss of many lives and properties worth millions of naira (including our main training centre). Though the violence erupted as a result of alleged irregularities in the conduct of the Presidential elections, deeper reflection will reveal deep-rooted discontent among youths impoverished by years of structural violence and mistrust among the diverse groups living together. Another example is the UK riots of some weeks past, it originally started out as a protest against the Police shooting of a youth, but the subsequent violence across the UK shows that there is are underlying causes that fed the culture of violence in the looters and rioters.

Here in my local community, after the May riots, we have set up a local peace committee made up of youths and youth leaders, the membership of this committee cuts across all religious faith and tribal affiliations. The committee has started holding discussion sessions at which various issues relating to our mutual existence are tabled and looked at from different angles.

As the Secretary of this committee, I am actively involved in setting the agenda for the discussion sessions and in the three months of its formation; we have been able to build a body of documents, which outline different views and perceptions about community. These sessions have also helped us achieve mutually agreeable stances on many issues that formerly divided us.

Though, many issues still divide us, our committee is slowly making having a positive effect on communal relations. In fact, we have successfully mediated in some petty misunderstandings between some groups, who though professing the same religious faiths, had differing perspectives on some issues.

At the national level, my involvement is basically two-fold – Non-violent struggle against injustice and national peace building.

A Sustainable culture of peace and thereof meaningful development cannot be attained in any society without equity and justice being entrenched. Likewise, the concept of a culture of peace will be sheer fallacy to an oppressed person. This fuels my zeal for networking with many other like-minded individuals to fight injustice in all forms through online protests, onsite civil protests and campaigns, publications etc.

Nigeria, being a multicultural society, suffers from the effects of intolerance caused by ignorance and misconceptions among the diverse religious and ethnic groups. This lack of proper understanding of various cultures of other citizens has led to a lot of misplaced antagonism and hatred among the various ethnic groups. The blame for most of these mutual misconceptions lies at the doors of the societal leaders – political, tribal and religious. Many of them fan the embers of distrust among the populace, not with any realistic justification, but simply to protect their various personal interests which they think will be at risk if mutual understanding exists among the various groups.

The two real classes in my society from my reflection are the oppressed and the oppressors! But apart from simply impoverishing the oppressed economically, the oppressed go further to feed them with various fictitious propaganda that is aimed at deflecting their attention from the oppressors, and instead guides them to see people from other tribes/religious faiths as enemies. We now have a situation in which the oppressors from different tribes and religious faiths are able to sit together to scheme on how to maintain and further their political and economic domination, while subtly redirecting the attention of the oppressed to look at fellow oppressed citizens from other tribes/religions as enemies.

I am presently actively involved in an online/onsite initiative that has brought together people from different walks of life to discuss issues of national interest.
It all started from Facebook interactions during the last national elections. Though we all represent different political inclinations, membership of the initiative was drawn from people who showed a high level of maturity and showed they were able to listen to views of others even when it conflicts with theirs. From the online sessions, we have moved ahead to holding quarterly national meetings where we all meet and share hours of fruitful discourse based on mutual respect and understanding among members from all over the country. Though the discussions (both online and onsite) get heated up sometimes, but the fact that we all committed to decently expressing our views and listening to that of others keeps us going. In fact, most times, after heated exchanges, we are able to get a point of reaching understanding about the perception of other members who share views different from ours; and many misconceptions have been cleared during these discussions.

At the global level, my involvement in e-activism (http://www.change.org/yppj); http://www.amnesty.org; has really afforded me an opportunity to support and initiate e-petitions on peace and social justice issues.
My participation in Global Crisis Mapping efforts (http://www.standbytaskforce.com; http://www.humanityroad.org; http://www.crisismappers.org; http://www.humanityroad.org; etc) has offered me an opportunity to join other volunteers from all over the globe in crisis mapping efforts during disasters and crisis like the Japan earthquake and Libyan Crisis Map deployment.
My various online interactions through social media and professional organizations like http://csta.acm.org; http://www.wikieducator.org; http://www.teacherswithoutborders.org and many others has broadened my outlook to other people and I feel I have also been able to contributed to making other people better understand and appreciate some values I hold dear.

On the whole, creating, cultivating and nourishing a culture of peace starts with the self, achieving a proper level of intra-personal peace makes us better suited and able to act as agents and promoters of peace in all our activities, and we can thereby contribute our quota to effecting a positive transformation in our world.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


A poetic reflection of me, my origins and the realities of my society

- Brought into the world as a result of the marital union between a Hausa mother and Yoruba father;

- The blood cruising through my veins, a mixture of conservative Hausa values and a liberal Yoruba heritage;

- Achieving an internal balance was always a continual internal struggle;

- Unable to cling on to one part and thus reject the other, so I went through my journeys of life;

- Always stuck in the middle, I was;

- Accepted by both sides who still haven’t reached the depths of being able to fully accept one another as compatriots in the Nigerian;

- Many an inner tear I shed, hearing misconceptions exchanged about the two noble races whose blood flow through my veins;

- When lucky, I am able to quell potential outbreaks of violence among the two;

- But may times, I simply have to stand aside and watch misguided hardliners from both camps call for blood;

- My blood stirs internally! Both are calling for blood I am related to!;

- Stuck in the middle, I watch powerlessly as blood from both sides are shed unnecessarily. every blood shed, a direct relation of mine!;

- Peace maker, Crises manager, pacifier, I always became, trying to prevent my two cultures from bloodshed;

- ‘cos, every blood shed is related to me!;

- As if this internal conflict weren’t enough, I slowly grew up to awaken to the realities of discriminative deprivations in my society;

- The oppressive ruling class scheming and acting vigorously to keep the oppressed ruled in perpectual servitude;

- Lucky me (am I really lucky?), I was privilegded to be blessed by the Lord of all knowledge;

- Yes, Knowledge – the only potent weapon against tyranny which no oppressor can take away;

- I became aware of the systematic structural violence deeply imbedded into the fabric of my society;

- Another conflict ensued in me, to keep quiet and be part of the oppressors thereby keeping the status quo, or stand aside and speak out and face the battering inflicted on the oppressed;

- Use my skils and knowledge to help prop up the oppression in the land or become a lone voice in a desert valley of deafened oppressed;

- The reality was simply a struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed!;

- But the unfortunate oppressed had been blindfolded and hoodwinked to look towards ethnic/religious discriminations for their problems;

- I made my choice, I’d speak out and alas, many rightful opportunities my stance denied me;

- The oppressors portraying my shouts of oppression as cries of an impoverished idiot;

- The oppressed, deafened by propaganda, refusing to see through the misguided ethnic / religious half-truths fed them by the oppressed;

- Stuck in the middle I remain, using my classrooms as my media to guide the youth to see the light;

- Using ICT tools to say it as it really is;

- How far my efforts will go, I don’t know; but I find it fulfilling to have a place in the middle of it all;

- Able to understand the truth about both parts of my heritage;

- Able to see through the deceptions of the ruling oppressors;

- Able to guide my students to attempt achieving enlightenment;

- Stuck in the middle, I’d go on speaking and reaching out;

- Always having the conviction that someday, some of these kids who pass through me, will grow up with some parts of the concepts of peace deeply ingrained into their lives;

- Someday, ……………..

Thursday, August 4, 2011


A brief peep into the current realities of the Nigerian Society
To the Casual observer, Nigeria can safely be classified as being “relatively peaceful” or in other words “not at war”. A deeper reflection on the political and socioeconomic realities in the society will however reveal that the opposite is actually the case.
The society is rife with manifestations of the culture of war and violence. Structural violence in many forms permeates the entire Nigerian socio-political structure. This is turn leads to outright outbreak of physical violence in many cases.
Many manifestations of structural violence abound in the polity, these include ethno religious intolerance, discrimination, corruption etc.
Most of the outbreaks of physical violence in the country are actually the results of long neglected existence of structural violence which boil over. Many individuals and groups live in an environment that is repressive, offering them no credible, civil means of airing their discomfort and in fact no transparent and credible civil structure for seeking redress when wronged or opportunity for effecting transformation of their uncomfortable realities through nonviolent means.
Salient barriers exist which limit the heights to which individuals can aspire the society. These barriers, though not claimed publicly as official policy, exist and they limit the attainable educational, economic and political heights achievable by a citizen. Citizens face discrimination on the basis of their tribal origins, religious beliefs or economic class.
By thus limiting the levels to which citizens can aspire to, many citizens grow up with a form of repressed anger which sometimes breaks into physical violence at the slightest perceived provocation.
Children from low-income earning families are barred from access to a qualitative education which is only available at privately owned fee-paying institutions. Thus at the end of 12 years of Public Primary and Secondary education, they end up without the prerequisite knowledge and skills that can enable them aspire to higher education. By virtue of the low economic powers of the parents, they are thus deprived of further education, which is a tool that could be used to change their lives for the better. Without a qualitative primary/secondary educational background plus a higher education, they thus doomed to be fit only for unskilled jobs while their mates from higher income earning families acquire top class primary and secondary education, then go on to acquire higher educational and professional qualifications with which they stand better chances of securing middle level/top level employment.
This breeds a form of silent anger at the society in the minds of youths thus denied this opportunity and in many cases this anger fuels their capacity and willingness to go into crime or initiate violence on a society that they feel has been unfair to them. Such youths also become willing weapons in the hands of politicians who use them to wreck havoc on opponents during electioneering periods.
It is against this background of undertrained and untrained youths, coupled with lack of effective civil structures for conflict mediation and conciliation; that many ethnic and religious riots have found roots. Ethnic and religious groups who perceive themselves to be unable to find relevance in the existing societal structures live with repressed anger at the system become enticing to the already disillusioned youths.
Though the reality looks bleak, I believe there still exists opportunities for educators to introduce students to new peace-promoting ideals that could guide them to become better citizens by imbibing the culture of peace.
Firstly, it is essential for the teacher to undertake a sincere soul search within himself to purge his mind of personal misconceptions, internal conflicts and prejudices that could manifest as violence in his words, or actions.
After being able to come to peaceful terms within himself on the need to cultivate and promote the culture of peace; it is then important he ensures his life and work exude these ideals.
A teacher is a role model to his students either when he is speaking or when he is silent. He is looked up to as the epitome of their aspirations, someone who should be imitated in all things. But they will be more willing to adopt his teachings if he actually lives what he teaches.
In the Nigerian situation, the teacher will help promote the cultivation and promotion of a culture of peace in the minds of his students if he models his classroom to be a participatory environment in which every student can find a sense of belonging.
He should initiate and promote opportunities for effective conflict resolution and mediation among the students.
Where feasible, the group or cooperative learning approach should be adopted, as it fosters the spirit of cooperation among students and also helps them build relationships which many times go on well beyond the school days.
In selecting students into groups, the teacher should carefully reflect on their diverse personalities, intelligences and capabilities. Efforts should be made to ensure groups are composed of a proper mix of different individuals. Working together in a group greatly enhances their learning process as they better learn the value of individual participation towards the realization of group aims and objectives.
In the present Nigerian context, cultivating and promoting a culture of peace will give rise to the ancient question of “which comes first, the hen or the egg?” Youths grow up acquiring the social habits they see in their immediate society and it is these social habits they end up exhibiting as adults and the next generation becomes influenced by them in turn. So goes on the vicious cycle of socialization, in this case a vicious negative cycle that is promoting a culture of violence.
In my view, the cycle can be broken into and infused with a culture of peace which in time will diminish and finally eliminate the traces of the culture of war. This process of transforming the present reality will require the active participation of the various agents of socialization. Schools are reflections of the wider society; Schools reflect the culture of the society in which they operate and in turn their efforts can effect changes in the society.
In the school context, the task of guiding the students to understand and imbibe the concept of a culture of peace is a task that rests mostly on the shoulder of the teacher! We as teachers must portray peace in our words and actions (both in the class and outside of it). It is by being seen to represent the peace we teach and abhorring violence, that we can actually get them to clearly see the evils of the culture of violence and adopt a culture of peace.
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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi (mallamibro@gmail.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.