Training Cameroon’s Educators to be Peacemakers
Author: Ben Mforndip
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 11/03/2008
is a process in which improved relationships is the outcome. More often than
not we expect remarkable changes in terms of our behavior, attitudes, and
values. But these characteristics can not be attained without a good education
and training. Conflict affects everyone. For some, conflicts may cause internal
struggles, sometimes causing them to turn to drugs, alcohol, or to drop out
from school or abandon their jobs.
The Cameroon educational system is rubbed by many conflicting situations. This is because those
responsible for the day-to-day function of the schools are ill-equipped to
handle conflict situations. Both the school leaders and teachers lack the
knowledge and skills necessary to improved relationship between students and
teachers. Fortunately for Cameroon, conflict management skills can be taught
and learned. The overall tone of the schools have often been characterized by
conflicts. Consequently our schools have become unsafe places for learning. In
our schools today, one can identify four important types of conflicts: Controversy;
Conceptual conflicts; Conflicts of interest; and Development conflicts (Johnson,
2003). These conflicts are a barrier to school improvement and achievement. The
above types of conflict can be address if the educators are trained in conflict
resolution, transformation, and in peacebuilding skills. Training teachers in
peacemaking will not only improve achievement in schools but the community as a
educators to be peacemakers is in fulfillment of the United Nations Decade for
a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, (2001-2010),
as schools are part of the global movement for a culture of peace: “Peacemaking
requires at least as much courage, imagination, patience, and strategic
planning as war making. It goal is nonviolent relations not only between
teachers and students but also between all human beings” (True and Adams, 1997).
UNESCO, acting as the lead agency for the Decade, encourages the appropriate
authorities to provide education in elementary schools that include lessons in
mutual understanding, tolerance, active citizenship, human rights, and the
promotion of a culture of peace. However the training for the development of
these values must begin with educators before it proceeds to students.
Promoting a culture of peace is not possible without the most important actors
needed for the change.
culture of peace reflects new ways of looking at and thinking about old
problems and new ways of resolving them. For a culture of peace to be
particularly relevant, the International Peace Research Association (IPRA), made up of researchers, teachers and
activists, met for an international conference in 1994 and proposed guidelines
for training for educational institutions. According to the conference, it was
propose that: (a) educators and student be trained in conflicts resolution and
mediation skills extending to the wider community; (b) linking school and
community activities that promotes everyone’s participation in culture and
development; (c) incorporating information into curricula about movements for
liberation and peace; (d) extending a sense of community not only to all people
but also to all forms of life in order to preserve the earth’s ecology; and (e)
reviewing and renovating the history curriculum in order to give as much
emphasis to the role of women as is given to men, and nonviolent movements as
is given to military campaigns.
exists through the work of individuals and governments that persist in their
efforts to build it. Training educators as peacemakers will empower them with the
skills, values and content of a peacemaking pedagogy: “Conflict arise in our
schools because of some mismatch between social values and social structures of
the school” (Burton, 1969). To address these flaws, educators need to be
trained to handle problems with objectivity. For training of such magnitude,
especially between those who have reached a comparatively higher level of
education but who are not conversant with the skills needed, experts in
conflict resolution, conflict management, and peace education would be
appropriate to do the training.
training, according to Johnson (2003), should have two procedures. The first
procedure calls for specific lessons on: communication skills; controlling
anger; appropriate assertiveness; problem solving skills; perspective taking; creative
thinking; and a wide variety of other related interpersonal and group skills.
The second procedure deals in lesson integration with ongoing training
programs. Training should be provided for those entering the field of
education, as well as those who are already employed in the field of education
in order to give and equal and informed background to all educators. More
specifically, those in the teacher training programs will study the theory and
the practices of conflict management and transformation, while educators in the
field will be trained through seminars and workshops.
educators as peacemakers in the 21st century is essential to the
future of peacebuilding. There are many reasonings to support this statement.
First it will enhance academic achievement as well as train teachers and
students in the values of conflict and problem solving negotiations, and
mediations procedures. Secondly, incorporating peacemaker training into
academic lessons is more efficient than conducting it as a separate course. Thirdly, training in role-playing
will increase involvement, create insight into character, wants, feelings, and
reasoning, and create more positive attitudes towards the entire school
learning environment. Training educators using the step-by-step negotiation
framework will help them more thoroughly and effectively analyzed, synthesize,
evaluate and remember conflict resolution skills. This training will also
require them to learn how to present positions, express feelings, explain
underlying interest and reasoning, listen effectively, take others
perspectives, engaged in creative problems solving, and reach agreement on the
best solution. According to Fullan (2001) “education indicates that innovative
practices then to be discontinued unless they are effective in increasing students’
achievements.” The empirical evidence is clear that training educators to be
peacemakers increases academic achievement and long –term retention.
this juncture, I would say that main purpose of the training educators for a
culture of peace should be the formation of members of a profession committed
to the principles of peace, and capable of engendering similar commitment and
imparting the skills of peacemaking and peacebuilding to students.
These competencies, it is hoped, might be used to enhance the resolution of
conflicts in schools. Using the problem-solving negotiation and mediation
procedures in a wide variety of conflicts and involving literature, history, or
other like contexts, increases the ability to transfer the procedure to
conflicts within educators’ own lives. Furthermore, learning how to resolve
conflicts has numerous interpersonal benefits. Relationships are improved and
maintained over time and educators who managed conflicts constructively tend to
be better liked. Also, the training will have broad generalized positive
effects on the over all learning tone of the school. The school environment
becomes safer and more orderly as both teachers and students learn the
procedures and attitudes they need to manage conflicts and practice them enough
to develop skills in using them.
suggest five simple stages in training educators to be peacemakers, and it is
important to note that this training will not require the purchase of new
materials and textbooks. The training will require only that an existing
instructional unit that contains conflicts is utilized. For example, conflict
can be found in any one of Shakespeare’s plays or Achebe’s novels, such as the White
man of god. In history lessons, conflicts over land or boarder disputes,
amongst other issues, all provide opportunities for understanding the value of
constructively managed conflicts and practicing negotiation and mediation
procedure. Thus the first stage of training educators is to learn how to use
the tools available to them. The second lesson on the training will be to
create a cooperative training environment. Structuring the training
cooperatively does this. A cooperative context is necessary for teaching and
practicing negotiation and mediation skills. The third lesson in the training
will be to use concrete living examples to explain the nature of conflicts. In
this case, literary works or even stories should be used. In analyzing
conflicts within these works, educators will be able to classify the strategies
used as being forcing, withdrawal, smoothing, compromise or problem–solving.
fourth lesson would be to let the educators role-play. Here the participants
are assigned in pairs and given specific characters form a literary work to
role-play (for example, using William Golden’s Lords of the Flies or in
Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine). Participants take specific
characters, prepare their basic statements of what they want, how they feel and
their reasons, followed by role-play of the conflicts using negotiation and
mediation procedures. Practicing this procedure through role-playing enhances
lesson for training is to discuss how the problem-solving and mediation
procedures may be used to resolve actual conflicts that occur in schools. This
will provide the educators with a wide range of options on how to go about
handling the various types of conflicts that are prevalent in our schools. Though
educators are not necessarily trained on all peace building procedures, it is
their responsibility to introduce other peace making methods in schools.
Teachers as well as students should be taught to reconcile
with one another and to forgive. Reconciliation and apology are the first part
of the healing process.
the above, it is my hope that, if these educators are trained to be
peacemakers, they will not only be able to manage conflicts that occur in
schools constructively, but also be prepared to better negotiate their personal
and family conflicts as well. Specific discussions on how the procedure may be
used in actual conflicts will help educators to transfer what they have learned
during training to schools and other settings. The long-term impact of the
training will bring understanding and promote skills in peacemaking, conflict
resolution, and negotiation and mediation techniques. Schools will become safer
places for education and achievement.
Burton, J.W. (1969) Conflict and Communication. London: Macmillan.
Fullan, M. (2001) The
meaning of Educational Change., New York: Teachers College Press.
Fisher, R., and Ury, W. (1981)
Getting to yes. New York: Penguin.
Johnson, D.W., and Johnson,
R. (2005). Teaching Students To Be Peacemakers (4th Ed.) Edina, MN: Interaction Book Company.
True, M., and Adams, D. (2007) UNESCO Culture of Peace. International Peace Research Newsletter,
vol. 35 no 1. pg 16-17.
Bio: Ben Mforndip holds a Master’s degree from the University for Peace.