During protracted civil war, search boys and girls grow up knowing violence as the means to success and a pathway to prominence in the society. For example, look the peace agreement that brought the 14-year civil war in Liberia to an end awarded lucrative government positions to leaders and key persons from the various rebel factions who fought each other for the leadership of the country and in the process had committed some of the worst forms of atrocities – mass killings of innocent people and wanton destruction of property. As such, children grew-up believing that in order to be successful in life, one had to be violent; in other words, it pays to be violent and violent behavior is normal.
To counter this mindset that glorifies violence as normal and a route to success, the Center for Peace Education believes that the education curriculum in Liberia should include aspects that allow children in post-conflict societies to learn about the fundamentals of peace and peaceful co-existence in order to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation in Liberia.
We believe this is not a far-fetched proposition. The testimonies of pupils taking our peace education classes as a single subject demonstrate that purposeful peace education programmes can positively influence young people towards a peaceful and inclusive disposition. Pupils have testified about the enormous contribution peace education is having on their lives – they speak about their ability to recognize the symptoms of violence; their skills and knowledge to defuse a conflict before it arises; their ability to mediate and/or settle disputes before they turn into violent conflict; and their willingness to teach the concepts of peace in their local communities.
For further information on how peace education is having a profound impact on the lives of pupils.