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Organization: NGO Women for Development, Armenia
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
Posted: April 14 2005,06:43 If you wrote this report, you will find a button here that you may click
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

The culture of peace itself is not a new understanding, it has existed since the creation of humankind, but during the UN "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World” this concept became more regulated. Currently a huge number of local and international organizations work in the field of peace culture and peace education.  

It has been 4 years already, that in frames of International Decade, NGO Women for Development (Gyumri, Armenia) is implementing “Peace Education and Conflict Resolution in schools of Gyumri, Armenia” project supported by Church Development Service Germany /EED/ and Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation /ICCO/, the Netherlands.
The main goal of the project is the formation of peace culture and conflict resolution ideas among teachers and schoolchildren, aiming to involve peace education in school curriculum later. This is the first attempt to include the “Peace Education” subject into the school curriculum in Armenia.

During the first half of the Decade our organization has seen significant progress towards the culture of peace:
•“Peace Education and Conflict Resolution” pilot training course was developed specifically for Armenian schoolchildren,
•5 Peace Education Centers were established in 5 schools of Gyumri,
•50 teachers have passed the “Peace Education and Conflict Resolution” training, as well as more than 125 pupils of 7-9th grades,
•25 mediators were trained, who are ready to help their friends in conflict resolution, to spread their knowledge and skills in school and in the community,
•Ideas of peace culture and conflict resolution were indirectly spread among different schools’ teachers, pupils and their parents.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

Currently our organization does not see any important obstacles that have prevented progress. Regional Educational Department, principals of all schools, teachers and pupils are ready to support the process of including “Peace Education” subject into the school curriculum.  

We are sure, that the RA Ministry of Education and Science will also support our organization in the abovementioned process.

In case of having necessary financial means, it will be possible to spread the gained experience in all schools of Armenia, to organize teacher trainings, to publish educational and methodological brochures.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

“Peace Education and Conflict Resolution in schools of Gyumri, Armenia” project started.
The project  began with the staff training and development of study materials. As the result of international experience research in the sphere of peace education, as well as studying training courses of already existing subjects in school curriculum of different countries, the “Peace Education and Conflict Resolution” training course was developed and designed specifically for Armenian schoolchildren.
Training course includes the following topics:
•Conflicts and their causes.
Children learn the statement of conflict, their causes, they make the statement of the conflict by themselves and bring examples of conflicts in their families, school, community and discuss them.
•Conflict escalation.
We thoroughly explain the levels of conflict escalation and the changes taking place in human behavior. The examples from the real life make theoretical part more understandable.
•Analysis of conflicts in old Armenian tales, discussion of the causes, role-plays and preparation of poster.
•Skills of conflict resolution.
Pupils are taught main skills of peaceful conflict resolution, several simple principles, using which conflict escalation can be stopped. The examples from the real life make theoretical part more understandable.
•Conflict mapping/analyzing.
The class is divided into groups of 4 people, each group brings its own example (school, family, community, political, etc.).

For the successful implementation of the project , it was important that Dr. Armine Mikayelyan – director, and Dr. Gohar Markosyan – coordinator, participated in the School for International Training Peace Building and Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) in 2002. The newly gained experience and knowledge were continuously strengthened by taking part in the following events: International Conference on Conflict Resolution in Schools: Learning to Live Together, Soesterberg, the Netherlands and Strengthening Policy and Practice workshop, Practical Strategies for Agencies working in Areas of Tension and Conflict, Responding to Conflict, Birmingham, UK.

In October 2002 the first Peace Education Center was established in Gyumri school after Lord Byron. As the result of survey and interview, 25 pupils of 7-9th grades became the members of the Peace Education Center. The school became the project’s pilot school. Twice a week trainings were conducted based on interactive methods in the Peace Education Center; developed training course and teaching methodology were first applied there. As the result, certain changes were made to the taught topics, team games, practical assignments and the timelines.

Peace Education Centers were established in 4 more schools of Gyumri, engaging more than 100 member schoolchildren. Besides teaching the main material, seminar-trainings were also organized on the following topics:
•The role of Church in peace making
•Health (hygiene) and conflicts
•The impact of conflicts on economy and impact of economic difficulties on development of conflicts
•UN and its peace making activities all over the world Armenian residency and its activities
•EU, member countries, candidate countries, etc
•Sadako’s (Japanese girl) and 1000 paper cranes story
A special topic in the training course is dedicated to the issues of peace and human rights with the purpose to aware children about their rights and responsibilities, which will help them to resolve conflicts easily.

During the project implementation different activities were organized in schools, dedicated to the International Day of Peace on September 21, Peace Months, Contests, Exhibitions, Pen Pals. These aimed to raise awareness on peace culture both in and outside the schools.    

On September 21st, 2003 the International Day of Peace was celebrated in the Peace Centers with an event, entitled “UN and its Peace Building Activities in the World”, and in 2004 a round table, entitled “Impact of Armed Conflict on Children” was organized.  

During the Peace Months , members of the Centers organize “open” peace lessons for the pupils of different grades of their schools, they present the activities of the Centers. Such “open” lessons are also organized for the pupils of those schools, which are not included in the program.  
Parents, teachers, representatives of mass media and NGOs, employees of Educational Department of Shirak region and other guests are invited to the events.

Centers’ members participated in Essay and Drawing Contests organized by NGO Women for Development, Caucasus and other International organizations (The Radiance Technique International Association, The World Peace Prayer Society, The Goi Peace Foundation, etc).
In 2003 Peace Centers’ members took part in the Peace Education Awards, announced by the Radiant Peace Projects, St. Petersburg FL, USA. Awards were given for both Peace Art – “What Makes Me Feel Peaceful”, and essays – “I am a Peaceful Person When I…” 6 children’s drawings and 5 essays, presented to the contest by the Centers received certificates and were placed in the Radiant Peace museum.

Peace Centers’ members are Pen Pals with:
•Schoolchildren of Armenian bordering areas (Kapan, Noyemberyan)
•Circles of Light, Lihue, USA
•“European Studies” programme

On May 29th, 2003 a solemn event took place for the first time in the United Nations Department of Public Information Yerevan Office. The event was dedicated to the first Day of International Peacekeepers. Representatives from UN Agencies, World Bank & IMF, Deputy Minister of Defense, Head of External Affairs and Military Cooperation of Ministry of Defense, Commander of Armenian Battalion of Peacekeeping Forces, Head of MFA department of Military and Political Affairs, Diplomatic Corps accredited in Armenia, Mass Media and others were present at the event. This first day of International Peacekeepers was dedicated to the sacrifice and selfless commitment of peacekeepers serving throughout the world. Members of the Peace Center of Gyumri School after Lord Byron were also invited to take part in the event, when they had a chance to present the activities of the Center and the work done by them in spreading and keeping peace. Participation in such a solemn event, becoming familiar with the activities of the UN Armenian Residency, Armenian Peacekeeping Forces and guests was a great achievement for the schoolchildren from Gyumri. The participants of the event listened to the schoolchildren’s presentation with great pleasure, and accepted the peace symbols – paper cranes, made by them with love.

In summer of 2002 a Peace Day was organized for the schoolchildren of Meghrashat – a village, bordering Turkey. During the event schoolchildren listened to the story of “Sadako and a Thousand White Cranes”, learned how to prepare paper cranes. They also decorated the “Peace Tree” with those. Paper cranes, made by children were sent to the Sadako Peace Park in Seattle, WA.

2003-2005 Newsletter “New Birth of Peace”
With the initiative of the Peace team and the children, 5 issues of the “New Birth of Peace” newsletter were published in 3 languages (Armenian, Russian, English), and included information regarding the skills and knowledge gained by the pupils of 7-10th grades, representing the Centers, as well as essays, poems and pictures, reports and teachers’ opinions.
The goal of the newsletter is to share the knowledge gained by pupils in the Centers among its readers – thus becoming a “peace spreader”.
Copies of the newsletter have been disseminated in Armenia, Caucasus and different countries of the world.

EURED started the first Europe-wide two-years teacher training course “Human Rights and Peace Education in Europe”, supported by the Austrian Commission for UNESCO.
Participation of the “Peace Education and Conflict Resolution in schools of Gyumri, Armenia” project director and coordinator in the UNESCO/EURED teacher training course was a unique opportunity for developing the necessary knowledge, skills and values for teaching and learning process of peace education and human rights. It was also a chance for professional exchange of teaching knowledge with teachers from other European countries.

Starting with 2004-2005 academic year Peace Centers of 2 Gyumri schools - #2 and #20, were included in the European Studies  with “Peace Education” subject.
European Studies Program was initiated in 1986. Since then schoolchildren and teachers from more than 20 European countries are involved in the Program. It aims to help young people to understand interrelations between different cultures, national traditions both in their region, and in other European countries, to teach peace and indulgence.  
In frames of the project Armenian schoolchildren established pen pals from schools of the Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Denmark. In their letters they told about Armenia, its culture and history, their town, school, family and friends, the knowledge and skills gained in the Center.
The program allows schoolchildren from Gyumri to become familiar with the history of creation of the European Union and its goals, to receive information about the rights and obligations of the member states, to understand European values, history and culture.
Participation in the program is a great experience for our schoolchildren in terms of peace culture education and gaining skills for peaceful cooperation.

During the 3 months of this year, members of the Peace Centers received training as educator/mediators and soon they will start conducting “lessons” for those pupils of their schools, who are not involved in the program.

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

In Global Partnership Conference "The Role of Civil Society in Prevention of Armed Conflict" which will be held in July, 2005 at UN Headquarters, New York, USA to accept the peace education as one of the primary directions of Conflict Prevention.

To organize international workshops and conferences on Peace Education and Conflict resolution, which will assist peace education related experience exchange between different countries.

For Secretary-General and the General Assembly to implement certain steps in order to include the Peace Education subject in the school curriculum of all countries in the world.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

•EURED, eured@yahoogroups.com
•UNIFEM, Women for Peace Network in Armenia, women_for_peace@undp.am
•UN Armenian Residency
•European Studies Program
•World Peace Project for Children, Issaquah, USA
•Radiant Peace Projects, St. Petersburg FL, USA
•Circles of Light, Lihue, USA
•“White Crane” magazine, UN Volunteers, Tbilisi, Georgia
•Education Department of Shirak region and schools
•Local and international NGOs

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

•To establish “Peace Education” Centers in 10 schools of Shirak region
•To train the members of the Centers as educators/mediators, who will not only teach their friends, but also help to resolve conflicts
•To create a network of schools, which will assist in peace culture and conflict resolution education among schoolchildren
•To integrate Peace Education in the school curriculum as a facultative subject.

Postal address of organization

6a Shahinyan st., apt. 16, Gyumri 377518, Armenia

E-mail address of organization

armine@shirak.am, gohar@shirak.am

Website address of organization

Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

Education for a culture of peace.

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace

Human rights.

Highest priority country of action (or international)

Republic of Armenia

Second priority country of action (or international)

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Organization: NGO Women for Development, Armenia

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