Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the authors.
When it comes to peace, people are often sceptical. Peace is deemed utopian or extremely hard to comprehend, let alone achieve. However, those who study International Relations with expertise in Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies know peace is possible, although it requires tremendous work.
John Paul Lederach (2003) – a leading peace scholar and peacebuilder – states peacebuilding works are effortful. Achieving peace is time-consuming because all essential transformations are lengthy processes. Building peace is similar to playing a jigsaw puzzle; the big picture is revealed once all the pieces are put together in the right places. Lederach calls it Peace by Piece. Additionally, peacebuilding is not a top-down process. Transformation starts with a simple thing, and the process begins from the bottom or, as we call it, peacebuilding from below (Ramsbotham, Woodhouse & Miall, 2008).
Having this understanding in mind, in 2018, the Youth & Peace Project was established. It was created with one mission: to integrate youth into peacebuilding works through education. As youth are the future of a nation, youth must learn the nature of conflict and the possibility of achieving peace as early as possible. Additionally, this will help them to reject the use of violence. Youth & Peace Project is an independent umbrella activity whose members cover lecturers and students from the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH).
Our main activity is Pendidikan Keterampilan Perdamaian dan Resolusi Konflik (translated: Peace and Conflict Resolution Skill Education), where we target students from junior high and high schools and train them for days with an end goal of having more and more agents of peace. So how do we do that?
Peace and Conflict Resolution Skill Education
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) constitution explicitly states, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”
Yes, the constitution highlights the importance of an individual’s mind. For so long, we have considered peace a matter of state, a government’s responsibility. And this does not seem right. Everyone must believe in a peaceful and just system if we want to achieve peace. As a scholar with a transformative approach to global peace, Arthur Stein (2004) reminds us that every measure for international peace will be more effective if we start it on the grass-root level, aka individual. Each individual must understand that a peaceful sphere will be more beneficial, and this will lead more individuals and groups in societies to participate in peacebuilding.
With that in mind, Peace and Conflict Resolution Education is designed with a Constructivism approach through workshops and training. Therefore, the event targets schools that the team deems prone to horizontal conflict and violence have diverse demography and are in susceptible locations. All in all, we are looking for schools that reflect Indonesia’s situation.
The Constructivism approach is echoed through various methods and activities during the event. There are nine modules to be trained in, and they are Toleransi dan Saling Menghargai (Be Tolerant and Respecting Each Other); Kasih dan Pengampunan (Love and Forgiveness); Tanggung Jawab (Be Responsible); Kerja Sama (Cooperation); Kerendahan Hati (Humility); Kejujuran (Honesty); Keadilan (Justice); Persatuan (Unity); and Resolusi Konflik (Conflict Resolution). Each module has 1-4 activities that are done through various methods, such as brainstorming, discussion, case study, group dynamic, group project, role play, storytelling, visualization, and dramatization. These methods are proven effective as stimulation in learning, and instead of feeling lectured, students find the desired knowledge, skill, and attitude for conflict resolution themselves without being forced to study.
These nine modules are part of Modul Pendidikan Perdamaian untuk Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA) dan Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan (SMK) created by the coordinator of Youth & Peace Project, Dr Edwin Tambunan. He is also a lecturer in the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH), focusing on Peace and Conflict Resolution. Our lecturer delivers each module as the facilitator. We also invite our students and even administration staff as co-facilitator. This stems from the understanding that every individual must be equipped to manage conflict and build peace.
Since 2018, we have reached more than 1,000 students and 30 teachers in provinces across Indonesia, the latest being Sekolah Tunas Daud Denpasar in Bali, where we managed to train 60s students from December 12 to 14, 2022. Our tagline is simple: “Perdamaian dimulai dari diri saya” or “Peace begins with me.”
Just like any other Constructivist project, the impact is not immediate. We honestly cannot expect the students to have transformed minds, characteristics, and attitudes. And that is precisely why we always invite teachers to observe the training so that every school can repeat the training independently.
However, we conduct evaluations for the training, which is carried out through several instruments. First, the pre-test and post-test are done to identify students’ understanding (orientation) toward conflict. The evaluation forms assess our program’s magnetism and the work of facilitators/co-facilitators. And in the last two schools this year, we surveyed to identify students’ natural conflict styles. We are grateful that in every school we have been to, all evaluations show a positive trajectory. The students have now been exposed to peace and conflict resolution knowledge, have been educated on the required skills to manage conflict and prevent violence, and have the characteristics needed to build a resilient society striving for global peace.
The next challenge is creating a habitual space so the students can grow to be agents of peace. And for this, the schools could consider integrating everything the students have learned from the training into the curriculum. By doing this, we will have a system that supports peacebuilding works and P/CVE activities. That way, we start the work with a bottom-up approach and complete it with a top-down approach.
- Lederach, J. P. (2003.) The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. Intercourse. Philadelphia: Good Books.
- Ramsbotham, O., Woodhouse, T., & Miall, H. (2008). Contemporary Conflict Resolution. Cambridge: Polity Press.
- Stein, A. (2004). The Individual and Global Peace Building: A Transformational Perspective. In: Genest, M. A. (Ed.). Conflict and Cooperation: Evolving Theories of International Relations (pp. 565-581). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
- Tambunan, E. (2008). Modul Pendidikan Perdamaian untuk Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA) dan Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan (SMK). Jakarta: Majelis Pendidikan Kristen di Indonesia.