The Insight Peace Education Project (IPEP) equips young people living in war-torn areas with the tools they need to champion lasting peace in their communities.
We are in the midst of a global violence epidemic. Violence pervades societies, threatening human rights, national security, the environment and the quality of global progress. Violent responses to conflict are not inevitable; with concerted commitment and holistic approaches to revising the status quo, they are preventable. By committing to important initiatives like truth commissions and war crimes trials, the global community has demonstrated an increased interest in addressing violence with retrospective approaches. It is time to prioritize prevention, so that in addition to reckoning with the past, we give children the skills to create a more peaceful future.
Effective prevention mechanisms must tackle the roots of entrenched societal problems, and youth education is lauded as one that holds promise. However, gaps in current peace education initiatives abound:
- Existing programs are limited in their global reach.
- Peace curricula are offered primarily in high schools and universities.
- Most programs focus on historical content and lack skill-building.
- Programs often fail to generate local ownership by imposing curricula developed outside the region.
Increased access to primary education helps break the traps of poverty, hunger, marginalization, and conflict plaguing so many communities worldwide. But the basic skills and knowledge of standard education do not go far enough, particularly in environments characterized by chronic instability and war.
We bring the power of education to a higher standard. With our curriculum, developed in collaboration with local communities, children are primed to counteract the de-humanizing effects of discrimination, armed conflict and ethnic polarization. They learn to communicate effectively in the face of disagreement and diversity, and cultivate a commitment to peaceful rather than violent solutions to difficult problems. Without a major global shift in curricula for children in their most impressionable years of development, we cannot hope to foster peaceful mindsets and interrupt cycles of violence.
By providing the skills for prevention rather than just reaction, IPEP supports the next generation to shape a more peaceful and prosperous future for their communities.
IPEP currently builds peace education into primary school curricula and after-school activities in northern Uganda, an area which has experienced decades of violence. A dedicated team of local teachers, under the leadership of IPEP Local Expert, Romanson Mathew Komakec, work with students on how to deal with the effects of armed conflict, counter discrimination, and communicate effectively in the face of disagreement.
Drawing on the latest expertise in conflict resolution and communication used by Insight Partners and Insight Collaborative, together with content developed by Facing History, IPEP works with leaders, state officials, parents and teachers to tailor materials to each local context. This gives local people ownership over the program and ensures children, and others in their communities, can apply the teaching to their day-to-day lives.
Central Africa is among the regions most severely devastated by armed conflict. With the support of like-minded donors, impacted communities, and local and international leaders, Insight Collaborative supports the Insight Peace Education Project Pilot in Uganda. This initiative provides primary school students with conflict resolution skills needed to lead their communities toward sustainable peace and development.
Decades of Violence
Uganda has suffered from more than two decades of war. It has grasped at fragile stability in recent years, only to topple back into violent conflict. According to the International Rescue Committee, nearly two million people have been displaced, tens of thousands killed, and over 20,000 child soldiers forced to serve in state and rebel armies. The Ugandan conflict is symptomatic of regional divisions and depleted resources— dilemmas that could be better addressed through nonviolent problem-solving. Without new approaches to peace building, societies like Uganda will be at risk for repeated warfare and peacetime crises like violent crime, vigilante justice, and domestic abuse.
A Peaceful Future
Uganda has embarked upon a renewed peace process, signaling both its need and capacity for reconstruction initiatives. Ending destructive cycles in transitional societies requires providing future leaders with alternatives to the status quo. Violent conflict is no exception.
In partnership with local communities and state officials, Insight Collaborative continues to:
- Provide at least 150 children with tools for effective nonviolent conflict resolution;
- Support local and state leaders to promote country-wide program standardization; and
- Pioneer the model for locally customized conflict management training of children worldwide.
- Monitor for transparency and improvement, ensuring sustainable effectiveness.
Our current initiatives
David Seibel recently presented “Conflict Management 101” virtually with Romansen Komakec, director of the IPEP and nine teachers in Northern Uganda. He plans on presenting other virtual workshops in the future.
Due to the Covid lockdowns, classroom teaching was shut down for over a year. Students were encouraged to read and practice the teachings of peace Education at home. Luckily, the Ugandan Government eased lockdowns in November 2021 and reopened schools in January 2022. The good news is that none of the teachers and pupils contracted a deadly form of the virus.
Numerous challenges were posed after having no classroom teaching for so long, including behavior issues among students. Also, some students who had contracted Covid were stigmatized. Teachers will continue to focus on diversifying peace education among the children to avoid harmful segregation. Teachers will again embark on serious classroom teaching, including refresher courses, to promote peace and discipline.