Education for Peace – Bosnia and Herzegovina (EFP – BiH)
As a result of participating in the EFP project, my way of teaching has changed, my relationships with students has changed, and my relationship with my family has changed… all for the better. ~Teacher, Secondary School, BiH (2001)
While many universities, government agencies and civil society organizations devote considerable resources to the study of conflict, violence and war, there are relatively few peace programs dedicated to a systematic, sustained plan of action to educate children and youth, their parents, teachers and leaders in the principles of peace. Consequently, generations repeat the mistakes of former generations, and conflict and violence become permanent facets of human societies.
The Education for Peace (EFP) Program is a unique community development program dedicated to assisting young generations and their teachers, parents and leaders to engage in creating a culture of peace based on unity in diversity. It provides in-depth, systematic and sustained programs of training in the foundations of peace, democracy, inter-ethnic understanding, human rights and gender equality. The EFP approach is comprehensive and inter-generational in that it assists children, youth and adults to create conflict-free and violence-free environments in their homes, schools, places of work, and in the community at large. The ultimate goal of EFP is to assist the participating populations in their efforts to establish an all-inclusive, progressive, civilization of peace.
Education for Peace-BiH (EFP-BiH)—in collaboration with its sister agencies EFP-Balkans and EFP-International—offers systematic programs of training, research, consulting and academic collaboration in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and worldwide.
The EFP Program was started in June 2000 with the launch of a two-year pilot project of Education for Peace in three primary and three secondary schools in BiH, with the participation of more than 400 teachers and school staff, 6,000 students and their parents/guardians. The project had the support of education ministries, municipal leaders, and international authorities. The primary aim of the project was to create a culture of peace, a culture of healing, and a culture of excellence within and among the participating school communities representing the three main ethnic populations—Bosniak (Muslim), Croat (Catholic), and Serb (Orthodox Christianity)—in the highly conflicted post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The pilot program yielded significant positive results and gained the recognition and endorsement of all participating school communities, various BiH governmental agencies and civic institutions, as well as the International Community in BiH, including the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The BiH government subsequently invited EFP-International to create a strategy for introduction of its programs in all schools in the country.
By 2006, the EFP Program had been implemented in some 112 schools with approximately 80,000 students; 5,000 teachers, school staff, and administrators; and thousands of parents/guardians. Currently, a five-year plan (2007–2012) is underway with the aim of incorporating the EFP Curriculum into the BiH education reform process, thus involving all 1,000+ schools with about .5 million students and 60,000 teachers and school staff in the study of all subjects from grades K–12 within the parameters of peace. In 2010, all eight BiH public universities agreed to begin to offer training in the principles and skills of Education for Peace to all their teacher-training students.
Simultaneous with this process, EFP programs have been introduced into several other countries including Bermuda, Canada, Malawi, and the United States. Currently, many requests are being received to introduce EFP programs to many more communities in Africa, Americas, Asia, and Europe.
The aim and challenge of the Education for Peace Program is to educate every new generation of students to become peacemakers and to devote their talents, capacities and energies towards the creation of a civilization of peace based on the triple pillars of a culture of peace, a culture of healing, and a culture of excellence. This requires the engagement of the students in a systematic and sustained program of full emersion in the study of the principles of peace by integrating these principles into the daily lessons of every subject. EFP has established three inter-related programs to accomplish these objectives: EFP-INTENSIVE, EFP-ONLINE and the Youth Peace-builder Network (YPN) for implementation in schools and the EFP-LEADERSHIP with its objectives to inform the leaders of each community with the principles of EFP and peace-centered leadership.
The EFP curriculum is designed to be both universal and specific. The universality of the curriculum refers to the universal principles of peace—the common heritage of humanity, the diverse expression of this common heritage and the absolute necessity to create a unified and peaceful world within this framework of oneness and diversity without resort to conflict and violence. While the principles of peace and unity are universal, it is essential that the program be tailored to the specific needs of every community in which EFP operates. For each distinct society, the EFP Program is therefore carefully designed with the full participation of the educators and experts from that community so that it is context-appropriate.
It is through this all-inclusive approach that participating communities are given ownership of the EFP Program. This process creates an environment conducive to sustainable socio-cultural development among participating schools through the active involvement of men, women, boys and girls, as equal partners in the process of repairing the fabric of their conflicted and/or war-torn societies. It also creates the necessary mechanisms for the sustainability of the program by training a large number of educators from participating schools as EFP Specialists and through the integration of EFP principles in the curriculum of these schools.
Over the past few years of program implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a range of EFP educational materials have been developed. These materials have been modified for each study subject and adapted to represent the social realities and historical context of BiH. A number of key research projects have also been implemented.
Education for Peace Programs
EFP–INTENSIVE is based on the classical EFP pilot project, a two-year community-based Education for Peace Program in which all teachers, staff, and students of a given school are trained in EFP. A tailor-made curriculum is developed based on EFP curriculum’s universal model, for use in every subject (history, science, arts, social studies, etc.). To ensure that the curriculum is specific to the needs of the participating schools and communities, educators and teachers from each region assist in its development. This program is particularly suited to assist ethnically segregated schools, those with displaced and refugee populations, schools situated in zones of intense conflict or in economically deprived regions, to overcome the barriers of ethnic hatred and the traumas of conflict, violence, and war. The two-year program focuses on the development of 1) a culture of peace, 2) a culture of healing, and 3) a culture of excellence in the participating school communities. Through a carefully monitored and sustained implementation process, EFP-INTENSIVE facilitates the forging of bonds of trust, open communication and sensitivity, which take time to develop and which are essential for genuine and lasting socio-psychological recovery.
EFP–WORLD is a comprehensive IT-based version of the Education for Peace Program. Initially designed for implementation in secondary schools, it is also being adapted for use in primary schools. EFP-ONLINE aims to empower local communities by building a brighter future through increased local knowledge on how to prevent conflicts; strengthening inter-ethnic understanding and cooperation; and applying the principles of gender equality, human rights and justice within sustainable community building processes. Through online and CD-ROM delivery, EFP-ONLINE can be offered to schools across the country at a relatively low cost. The program not only bridges the digital divide by introducing students and teachers to the world of information and communication technologies, but also creates an international forum for young people of all backgrounds, modes of thought and interest, to have dialogue within the parameters of the principles of peace.
Youth Peacebuilders Network (YPN) is an emerging network of youth mobilized as leaders in an effort to create a global culture of peace. Trained in cutting-edge concepts of peacemaking, conflict transformation, and violence prevention, YPN participants lead their peers in exploring the fundamental ideas, worldviews, and actions which characterize a culture of peace. YPN has had its origins at a few schools in North America and is also being gradually introduced into schools in BiH and elsewhere.
EFP–PROFESSIONAL DIPLOMA: The introduction of EFP-ONLINE and EFP-INTENSIVE to schools across Bosnia and Herzegovina is facilitated by Bosnian educators trained as EFP Specialists. Through a professional training program, a select number of teachers in BiH schools, pedagogical institutes, and universities are trained in all aspects of the EFP curriculum and implementation methodologies. The specialists then facilitate and monitor the process of EFP Program implementation in participating schools and universities and assist in developing integrated curricula for the Ministries of Education to adopt as models in the long run. They are also able to provide on-going expert assistance to their colleagues for the sustained implementation of Education for Peace.
EFP–LEADERSHIP is a parallel program designed to introduce civic and governmental leaders in the principles and practices of peace-based leadership. EFP–LEADERSHIP assist the leaders to respond effectively to the challenges of governing multi-ethnic institutions and communities so that they can foster, in practical terms, increased interethnic harmony and cooperation, regard for the human rights of all citizens, the equality of women and men, and the practice of conflict-free methods of conflict resolution. The program also gives particular attention to the emergence of a new generation of women as leaders and decision makers, thus alleviating the current imbalance that exists in the leadership of many societies. EFP-LEADERSHIP complements and reinforces the efforts of school communities that are engaged in EFP-INTENSIVE, EFP-ONLINE, and YPN.
Positioning for Expansion
The ultimate long-term objective of EFP is to offer peace education to any and all schools in the world, particularly those in regions where the ravages of war, terrorism, prejudice, rapid socio-economic and cultural change and the demands of modern life have created conditions of insecurity and conflict in families, schools and communities. The core curriculum will be supplemented with additional EFP lesson samples developed by participating schools, which reflect regional and cultural specificities and will be delivered in the appropriate mother tongues.
The first phase of this long-term project began in September 2000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is still continuing. Upon invitations from various national and international organizations and peace education specialists, the EFP Program is currently being considered for introduction into schools in several countries.
“This is a unique project. It will teach how to create a violence-free environment, in homes and schools and in the country as a whole.” ~The Senior Deputy High Representative, Ambassador Dr. Matei Hoffmann, 28 June 2000
“This project has changed our vision and worldview. I feel that the vision of every teacher and student in this school has been in some way changed through this project.” ~Literature Teacher, High School, BiH (2002)
“Before this project things were imposed in our classes, but with EFP we do it because we love it.” ~Student, Primary School, BiH (2003)
“What I have found in the EFP programs is thoroughly original and revolutionary. EFP represents an inspiring new approach—not only to peace education but also to almost all areas of social and cultural development. It incorporates new ways of thinking about conflict resolution, about leadership and political representation, and about social dynamics and relationships.” ~Trent Newman, Intern from Australia January (June 2005)
“The EFP experience for the faculty of Boulder Prep was quite interesting. As the faculty began to see how students being taught from the perspective of peace in all subjects could cause dramatic changes in the outlook of our youth, the faculty themselves began to experience the beginnings of a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift the whole world, but especially our schools worldwide, need to experience.” ~Andre Adeli, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Boulder Preparatory High School Boulder, Colorado, USA (2006)
“This invaluable project was conceived in such a way that the soul-searching process of reflection which the participants undergo as the project unfolds—be they pupils, teachers, parents, administrators, ordinary school workers—results, … as we have ascertained ourselves, in a heightened holistic awareness of the war period and its tragic consequences, and indeed triggers the desire amongst them to become authentic peace-makers, and precisely provides them with the necessary tools to achieve this goal….” ~Claude Kieffer Director, Department of Education, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – BiH Mission (2009)
Education for Peace – Bosnia and Herzegovina (EFP-BiH)
EFP-BiH draws upon the expertise of an international faculty specialized in the fields of curriculum development, peace education, conflict resolution, political science and psychology. The faculty works with local educators, pedagogues and school administrators to develop and implement EFP in all BiH schools. EFP-BiH closely collaborates with its sister agencies, EFP-International (Canada) and EFP-Balkans (Sarajevo). EFP–BiH is a registered, non-profit, non-governmental association in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The children all over the world are in need of peace and security. On the occasion of the Summit devoted to the children, we recommend this program [EFP] to all the nations for consideration, as a model of society oriented towards peace, cooperation, and development.
Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina message to all countries through its Mission to UN in New York