International Conference on Education for Peace and Democracy

 

Building the Community of Israeli and Palestinian Peace and Democracy Educators

 

 

Nattarive Report

 

 

Introduction

 

On August 8-9, 2008 the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information implemented a two days conference on peace education. This conference was the third of four such conferences planned for the current year. Following the success of the previous two conferences in January and in April, the August edition proved to be a useful event in the efforts to promote peace education in Israel and Palestine.

 

The conference gathered more than 150 people from Israel, Palestine and elsewhere to share their experience in peace education, their good practices and their ideas for the future. Most of the participants were facilitators, non-profit workers, peace activists and various practitioners in peace education, human rights related issues, academics, etc.   

 

This event was an opportunity for dialogue and exploring prospects for collaboration. It was a meeting ground for dialogue and mutual learning from the field of peace education from the viewpoint of academia and from the field of parishioners. The Workshop raised critical issues and brought new insights into the profound developments in Israel, Palestine and around the world in the field of peace education.

 

 

A note on the need for the conference

 

In the past, we presented the need to engage in peace education mainly in order to provide hope for the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians. Education is long-term work and its impacts are difficult to measure in the short-term. Recently, however, we conducted in-depth public opinion research in Israel and in Palestine. One of the surprising findings was when we asked selected focus groups "what would convince you that there was a real partner for peace on the other side?", the number 1 answer we received in all of the focus groups was: if they begin to teach peace in the classrooms! Peace education is essential not only for the future, but also for the present. Education is the translation of a society's values into practice. It contains the messages and values that the society wishes to impart to the next generation. That is why it is so compelling. That is why the success of the current peace process is dependent on making peace education an integral part of the educational systems in Israel and in Palestine.

 

 

The framework of the conference

 

The conference was designed on sessions that last from 30 to 120 minutes. Most of the sessions were 60 minutes. Five sessions take place at the same time in different rooms and the participants can chose which one to attend. The workshops were ran and facilitated primarily by the participants who had prepared a presentation or another kind of activity. In this way, the participants had an opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of materials, ideas, lesson plans, etc.

 

The sessions were structured in three conceptual tracks: Academic, Experiential and International Humanitarian Law. The Academic track contained academically oriented sessions, presenting theories or were sessions structured as lectures. The Experiential track contained sessions and workshops which were based on experiential learning approach and workshops of a more spiritual nature. There were sessions involving physical activity, meditation, role-plays, etc. The IHL track was dedicated to the legal aspect of conflicts and in particular on IHL and Human Rights.

 

 

Main themes

 

 

 

 

List of Sessions

 

Academic Track

 

 

 

Experiential Track

 

 

 

International Humanitarian Law - IHL

 

 

 

 

Impact and Follow-up

 

This conference, like the previous two, had a significant impact on the participants. It provided them with more tools to implement peace education activities as well as to implement wider rage of peace related issues. According to their feedback, the conference was helpful for them in at least two aspects: 1) mutual learning - they learned form each other through sharing experience and 2) networking – it gave them chance to meet and plane future activities together.

 

Some of the participants had taken part in the conference in its previous edition, which shows sustainable interest in it.

 

The participants in the conference will be provided with an easy way to stay in touch and continue their collaboration though the creating of a platform on IPCRI’s website.