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Call for fighting intolerance with peace education

Speakers at conference here on Tuesday stressed on peace education in schools saying this could help address intolerance in the society by making the younger generation appreciate religious, cultural, and linguistic diversity.

They were speaking at a daylong conference on `Fostering Culture of Peace through Education’, which had been jointly organised by German organization Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Member National Assembly Asiya Nasir at Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services.

The conference brought together academicians, civil society activists, students and parliamentarians for discussing the role of peace education in dealing with extremism. The conference participants agreed that intolerance was a big impediment to peace in world, which could be best dealt with through education.

Educating children about different cultures, religions and traditions, it was emphasized, could enable them to better understand others.

Media was also urged to focus on positive things in the society instead of propagating negative aspect of the society. Host of the event, Asiya Nasir, while stressing peace education, said strong political commitment and passion was required for peaceful and harmonious society. Urging everyone to play their role, she said, change could be achieved if everyone thinks about promotion of peace and contributes towards it.

“Starting with children is one way of getting closer to the goal of culture of peace and non-violence,” she noted. Vice Chancellor Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Dr Asad Zaman called for a multi-pronged and multi-dimensional strategy for achieving vision of a harmonious and tolerant Pakistan.

He said it was important to change the narrative. Positive things, he said, needed to be projected, while treating negatives as exception.

Dr Zaman said our society was full of examples of selfless service, tolerance, and hospitality, which needed to be highlighted. Underscoring the importance of media’s role in influencing attitudes and behaviours, he said: “If newspapers highlight examples of hospitality, harmony, tolerance, mutual accommodation, people will be motivated in this direction. Senator Rubina Khalid, who chaired the session, wondered why youth were not taught about their rich cultural heritage and history.

Dr Kamran Naqi, an educationist, said childhood education was very important, but observed that it got little attention in the country.

“Our investment on pre-school curricula needs raise. It is a point where children of 4 plus should get a fair amount of opportunity for self-expression besides nurturing the norms of cooperation, fellow feeling, and starting to internalize the values of sharing.”

Anjum James Paul, Chairman Pakistan Minorities’ Teachers Association suggested strengthening of family bonds, involvement in social activities, respecting diversity and rights of others, standing up against oppression as possible way for tackling intolerance in society.

APP. Call for fighting intolerance with peace education. The Nation, March 2, 2017.

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