The word “peace” has been defined in several contexts such that it’s complex to pinpoint or generalize a single meaning. The study of peace remains pertinent in this world full of unpreventable and unresolved conflicts. Learning about what is national peace and how it can be managed has been relegated as a graduate or postgraduate course mostly for adults and little or nothing is said about it to children. It is unrealistic to ‘protect’ children from hearing or knowing about the existence of conflicts when they are experiencing it daily; hearing about it from others; watching it on TV or living under the consequences of a broken country.
Understanding and learning about the importance of peace should not solely be left for those who have chosen to pursue careers on Peace and Humanitarian Law. Maintaining peace on a personal and national level is a pertinent aspect of human existence which should be known by every person. Simplified courses could be made for Elementary School children whilst Secondary/Middle and High School students should understand the historical background. Defined university or tertiary programs should be based on practical fieldwork using new strategies or improved methods.
In another perspective, there is the probability that conflicts are not properly managed because people are ignorant or nonchalant about conflict resolution methods. People, especially leaders, have been noted to repeat similar mistakes of their predecessors. This may be because they don’t know any better way. The diversities in our human reasonings and thinking could mean that if more people, children inclusive, are well informed about the relevance to handle conflicts healthily, they could devise and introduce constructive sustainable methods. Also, if people are made to know that their opinions or suggestions could be considered or shared as proven research, it could be a motivating factor for further research and sharings. It is safe to say that hearing about how someone else has managed their conflict can facilitate in another person resolving their own conflict.
Seeing how globalization continues to stretch around the world whether for business or trade reasons, there is no way conflicts are not bound to occur. Managing such situations requires learned skills. Some conflicts are continuing today mostly because of revenge. People who had lost family members are seeking vengeance. To an extent, this has been some of the root causes for the formation of rebel groups, some of which have become terrorist fraternities. For example, the Boko Haram group in Northern Nigeria has been remarked for bombings, killings, and kidnappings of school children with the motive of condemning education. Though their methods have been extreme and exaggerated, it is common knowledge that there are not a lot of government educational facilities in those regions. This is similar to Northern Cameroon and Southern Chad. There are fewer schools in these areas leaving many people, especially children to grow as illiterates. This could be why they can be easily persuaded into joining such groups.
Peace studies have to be included in the curriculum of every school beginning from the Primary school level upwards. Children deserve to know why they might be experiencing some post-conflict consequences. This should be done by way of history. Governments need to ensure the younger generations are told the truths of their histories including the times of the world wars. This will not just help these children see how much progress and improvements their countries have evolved over these years, but it will enable them to be able to learn practical lessons that could be applied should a conflict ensue. Though some of the peace strategies could be olden, it forms a basis for this generation to analyze why some of them were unsuccessful and how they can improve on the effective ones.
Children of today will become the leaders of tomorrow. It is impossible to expect them to know how to deal with the problems of the future which are eminent if they cannot understand the reasons for past failures. It is almost pessimistic to foresay they will most likely repeat the errors of their past leaders if they are not given the opportunities to know what measures were unsuccessful. As much as it is impossible to predict for sure that if they know what happened, they will change their perspectives should similar situations happen, but it suffices to assume that knowledge could influence their thinking in some way. Hopefully, it can be to devise more efficient peace resolution or conflict maintenance strategies.
Dealing with conflicts has, and might remain, a human challenge. This inevitable aspect of human existence should be handled with absolute pertinence. In a broader sense, teaching children about conflict resolution starting from a family and friendship level to a national/ global conflict level will help them improve on their human relationships. Some have argued that people are born with personality traits and temperament reasons while some leaders had leadership methods that were harsher than others. Personality features or not, every human desires to be in a peaceful environment and will appreciate the possibility to have stable relationships with other people. No one, at least normally, will anticipate conflicts if they fully understand the consequences it will cause on their emotions and lives.
The bottom line is, the world has been seeking for peace. Unfortunately, the emphasis is mostly always on managing large scale national conflicts when it has already gone to the escalation stage. Little or nothing is done to teach people how to manage individual conflicts with family members or neighbors. However, all conflicts including wars have been proven to begin from the negative reactions of one or two people who disagreed. Building people by teaching them how to deal with their internal mental challenges will go a long way to aid them to efficiently resolving large scale disputes in the future. As long as we live with people, there will always be people who will have different opinions and ideologies.
Conflict studies should be geared towards educating people on how to accept other people’s thinking respectfully. It should include telling people, especially children, about their self-worth and capabilities as well as forewarn them about the possibilities that there might be people who will not agree with them all the time. People need to be reminded of their differences, be encouraged to accept themselves, and be confident. There’s a need for people to be contented and comfortable being who they are and for them to recognize other people cannot always like them for that. Peace-building on the global stage should exceed conference rooms at international organizations with a handful of old people and mostly not implemented resolutions. If such pledges are made, governments should ensure to realize them by way of training the younger generation on pertinent aspects like this. Peace is possible but it entails conscious efforts of training people (children inclusive) about sustainable dispute resolution methods rather than focusing on de-escalating full-grown unresolved grievances of some adults.
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