Striving for harmony: Education as a tool for peace building

Speakers discuss how schools should become weapon-free zones and promote diversity


Tuba Athar November 28, 2015
Dr Ishrat Hussain. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: We live in an age of intolerance and conflict. The constant attacks against minorities and ethnic groups bear testament to this reality. Amidst the chaos, education may prove to be tool to promote harmony in the society.

Speakers on the day one of the Beaconhouse School System’s School of Tomorrow conference session titled ‘Educating for peace: Schooling in an age of conflict’ discussed the ways education can play a significant role in the creation and maintenance of peaceful societies.

For Institute of Business Administration (IBA) dean and director, Dr Ishrat Hussain, the excessive use of the social media has increased gap between the individuals, their peers and relatives, which according to him ultimately results in isolation.

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“There are individuals with weaker mental capacity who easily accept everything, while there are others possess a stronger mental capacity,” said Hussain.

Speaking about an IBA graduate Saad Aziz, accused of participating in the Safoora carnage, he said that there are many graduates. “An act of a single student cannot be used make generalisations about the other students of the institute.”

There are many IBA students who take public positions against such intolerant culture, he pointed out. He suggested that educational institutions should provide encourage health debates and discussions. Quoting the example of IBA, Hussain said that the university has 29 student societies including societies for art, music, debate and the members of these societies not only visit different universities of Pakistan, but they visit international universities as well. “This enhances their thinking patterns,” he remarked.

Against weaponisation

Famous consultant and health and safety trainer Naeem Sadiq while speaking said that educational institutions should take a weapon-free position. “Schools should take a stand and demand that government creates circumstance where students receive education without any fear.”

Moderator Sidra Iqbal pointed out that an area like Lyari has an all-girls boxing club where presently 13 girls are pursuing boxing as a profession, while in one of the biggest public university of the country, University of Karachi, some people protested about girls playing cricket.

Sadiq, while commenting on Iqbal’s statement said this is the thinking of a mere minority of people, but in today’s world, opinions cannot be imposed by guns.

Respecting diversity

We all should be agents of peace,” said Dr Paul Beedle, Cambridge Professional Development Qualifications head, while speaking about the diversity among the students of schools.

He pointed out that many universities across the world have their own music bands that bring students from different social, religious and ethnic background closer. He added that we all should respect the differences among all of us.

Concluding the session, Iqbal said by such debates allow people to come closer as a society and move towards positivity. 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2015.

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