PEACE EDUCATION IN THE WESTERN BALKANS – GPPAC REGIONAL ACTIVITIES
1. Regional Context
Since the wars of Yugoslav disintegration in the 1990s, a fragile peace has been maintained and a slow process of reconciliation is taking place across the region. Deep divisions between countries and territorial units persist, with different interpretations of history and a number of unresolved issues such as ethnic tensions and nationalist tendencies. Several ethnically mixed areas are still potential hot-spots for tensions and violence. Considerable resources have been invested by international donors in reconciliation programmes across the region; however these have often been scattered and not coordinated in an overall regional approach.
Civil Society: Civil Society in the Western Balkans region has played an important part in the reconciliation efforts. In the field of Peace Education, non-governmental organisations were often the initiators, providers and lobbyists for the inclusion of related topics in regular school curricula. Reflecting the overall field of peacebuilding, CSOs have lacked cross-regional links, in addition to having capacity building needs.
2. GPPAC Western Balkans regional network
By taking on the role as Regional Initiator and Regional Secretariat for GPPAC in the Western Balkans region in 2004, NDC Serbia could build on the existing Nansen Dialogue Network. By inviting additional CSOs to participate in the regional network, Nansen Dialogue Centres aimed to ensure the participation of organisations active in the peacebuilding field on the local level rather than the larger NGOs. These groups have now been involved as a network for a number of years.
In May 2010, Regional Steering Group members elected NDC Montenegro as GPPAC Western Balkans Regional Secretariat.
3. Regional priorities: Peace Education and Interaction between different levels of society.
Peace Education became the main focus of the regional network in 2006, after which peace educators and Ministry of Education representatives have actively participated in the regional activities and have also joined the Regional Steering Group. The core regional activities were training programmes in conflict transformation techniques for teachers/peace practitioners from multi-ethnic communities.
Awareness raising programmes support ongoing activities through the work of Media Focal Point and by launching the Peace Portal.
Regional PE activities are envisaged to:
- Enhance teachers and peace educators’ capacities to apply Conflict Transformation skills and techniques, including School Mediation as one of the techniques for non-violent conflict resolution in schools;
- Strengthen closer collaboration of teachers, peace educators and representatives of ministries of education to support the Whole School Approach in Peace Education implementation and integrate PE programmes in curricula;
- Contribute to peaceful schools and peaceful communities in the region.
4. Key Achievements:
- November: Forum Theatre and Conflict Transformation in Schools, advanced regional training for teachers and peace practitioners;
- October: Two handbooks for regional peace educators published by NDC Serbia were distributed at the Ministry of Education stand at the Education Fair in Belgrade;
- September: Arts competition People Building Peace initiated within International Peace Day celebration, schools in the region were invited to participate. IPD bulletin published by NDC Serbia and widely distributed;
- July-August: Gender Focal Points from Croatia and Montenegro finalised mapping of gender expertise in the region;
- June: Forum Theatre and Peaceful Conflict Prevention, regional training, part one;
- April and May: School with Peace Education Brings Peace to the Society, the first GPPAC cross-regional exchange of teachers, peace educators and ministry representatives from the Western Balkans and Western CIS organised jointly by NDC Montenegro and Integration and Development Centre (IDC). The first conference was held in Podgorica/Montenegro and the second in Simferopol/Crimea/Ukraine.
Highlights, Particular Achievements, Success Stories in 2010:
- NDC Serbia received official support for People Building Peace arts competition by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Education. Montenegrin MoE supported the competition as well;
- NDC Serbia was the winner of IPD campaign at Peace Portal;
- Cross-regional exchange conferences organised by NDC Montenegro and IDC gathered key actors for PE implementation: Deputy Minister of Education of Serbia, Senior Counsellor of the Ministry of Education and Science of Montenegro, representative of the Bureau for Educational Services Montenegro, Peace Education practitioners, principals and teachers-mediators from the secondary schools of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina and NDC project staff from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Review of key achievements 2004-2009
- December 2009: The Declaration on Joint Cooperation and Cooperation with Civil Society Organisations in the Field of Peace Education was signed by Serbian and Montenegrin Deputy Ministers of Education during the second conference on Policies, Methodologies and Network Building on Peace Education held in Belgrade on 4th and 5th December 2009. Organisers of the conference were NDC Serbia and NDC Montenegro. Some of the Recommendations from the Declaration concern School Mediation as recommended conflict resolution tool.
- October 2009: The first conference on Policies, Methodologies and Network Building on Peace Education held in Podgorica, Montenegro, gathered GPPAC members, PE practitioners and Deputy Ministers of Education from Serbia and Montenegro. The main recommendations coming from the Podgorica conference relate to partnerships on different levels: between the schools, between the states, in the region, between Ministries of Education and between NGOs working on PE. Organisers of the conference were NDC Serbia and NDC Montenegro.
- ‘Peace and Conflict Resolution Education in the Western Balkans’ project was implemented by NDC Serbia from 2007 to 2009. Through this project, 10 regional trainings were organised for peace educators and representatives of respective Ministries of Education. The project was funded by ifa Projekt zivik, Germany;
- In April 2007, NDC Serbia organised regional conference on Peace Education and Conflict Resolution in Schools in Belgrade, Serbia, bringing together experts, practitioners and policymakers from both within the region and around the world;
- 2005: GPPAC Western Balkans delegation presented the identified regional priorities at GPPAC’s international conference From Reaction to Prevention at UN Headquarters in New York;
- 2004: Regional Action Agenda for the Western Balkans developed during the Balkan conference on Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention, held in November, Igalo, Montenegro.
5. Media Project
Since GPPAC regional activities started in 2004, the media project has been supporting the process and activities in the Western Balkans by communicating messages from the regional network to the public. Since 2007 the key event within this project was celebration of 21st September, the International Day of Peace. In the period from 2007-2009, the International Day of Peace was jointly celebrated in Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Croatia as a part of global GPPAC campaign throughout the world.
Since 2009, GPPAC Media Focal Point in the Western Balkans became the promoter of the Peace Portal – an online platform for peacebuilders worldwide http://www.peaceportal.org.
- 2009 International Peace Day events were coordinated by NDC Serbia and supported by NDC Montenegro and NDC Osijek. Round table on the New Legislative Framework for Peace Education with Serbian State Secretary from the Ministry of Education was held in Belgrade, Press conference in the Ministry of Education was held in Podgorica and Messages for Peace were distributed in schools in Vukovar and Beli Manastir, Croatia;
- 2009 (December) NDC Serbia organised screening of the film ”Untold Stories “produced by NDC Osijek in Cinema REX in Belgrade, Serbia;
- 2008 IPD events: Round Table on Peace Education organised in Belgrade and and Podgorica, The Race for Peace in Jegunovce, Macedonia;
- 2007 IPD events: celebration of International Day of Peace , participation in radio broadcast on BETA RFI, Belgrade Serbia;
- 2005 PR support during the GPPAC’s international conference From Reaction to Prevention held in UN Headquarters in in New York;
- 2004 Press conference at the opening of the Balkan conference on Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention, Igalo, Montenegro.