URDANETA CITY, PANGASINAN—On August 8-9, 2022, the Peace Education Capacity Building Program (CBP) themed “Empowering Educators in Spreading the Culture of Peace” was held at Urdaneta City University (UCU). It was followed by the International Ethics and Peace Education Conference (IEPEC) 2022 with the theme “Empowering Ethics and Peace Education” on August 10-12. Both were held through a hybrid setup with online and onsite participants.
During the 2-day CBP, the peace coordinators of Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international NGO, presented 12 HWPL Peace Education lessons to a total of 75 department heads, faculty members and staff of UCU. The educational materials will be used to teach and integrate peace education in the upcoming academic year, as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by UCU and HWPL on July 28, 2022.
Dr. Amihan April Mella-Alcazar, President of UCU, shared in her opening remarks, “With your Peace [Education] Capacity Building Program in place, in terms of its curriculum and instructional design, this is going to be a very innovative pedagogy or methodology of teaching that you have adopted. So this has been a very dynamic and interesting experience for the faculty members of Urdaneta City University.”
After the CBP, IEPEC 2022 was held in celebration of Global Ethics Day and the International Day of Peace. It was organized by The Education Channel (TEC) in collaboration with HWPL, Social Ethics Society (SES) Mindanao and American University of Sovereign Nations (AUSN).
On the first day of IEPEC, ‘peace trees’ were planted and named after the officials and plenary speakers symbolizing their partnership in planting the seed of peace in the university. It also signaled the opening of an International Peace Park in the university.
Research papers were presented by faculty members and students from various universities, as well as lectures on ethics, education and peace by plenary speakers locally and internationally. The international speakers include Dhastagir Sultan Sheriff of Benghazi University who discussed about “Education and Peace, a Gandhian Perspective”, and Dr. Suma Parahakaran of Manipal GlobalNxt University in India whose topic was “Children and Youth as Changemakers: Integrating “Care” into the Curriculum and Policy”.
“When you understand the concept of peace, it is actually about understanding the spirit of the people and not of the curriculum… It is leading the child from the heart. It is a connection between two spirits—the spirit within you as a teacher as well as the spirit of the child,” said Dr. Parahakan.
Filipino plenary speakers personally attended including Major General Melquiades Feliciano (ret), National Programme Management Officer at the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism; Dr. Ronald L. Adamat, CHED Commissioner; John Rommel Garces, HWPL Chief Branch Manager; Prof. Christopher Ryan Maboloc of Ateneo de Davao University; and Prof. Jove Jim Aguas ng University of Santo Tomas.
On the second day, Dr. Adamat shared the current progress of the implementation of Peace Education in the CHED Curriculum. In 2019, he sponsored the integration of peace education and IP education into the higher education curriculum. Some of the professors were already capacitated while CHED continues to develop the syllabi targeting full implementation this year. The establishment of peace monuments and peace clubs for students in higher education institutions are also underway.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also came to personally deliver his inspirational message, “In a world set by conflict from pole to pole, how can we bring the quest for peace to a successful end? The solution lies in education. As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, I have seen first hand, the power of education in nurturing, accepting world views, and empathetic relationships among persons from divergent backgrounds.”
On the last day of the conference, MGen. Feliciano (ret) presented the global and national situation concerning violent extremism, as well as the national framework for its prevention. He stressed that the voice of the youth is very significant at this time of war between the Russia and Ukraine and also the dispute between China and Taiwan, as the ones being directly affected.
After this, Mr. Garces introduced HWPL’s peace initiatives internationally and locally including peace education, “The two challenges of implementing peace education are the capacity of teachers to teach peace education because this is new, and the availability of the peace education materials. We’ll develop and improve this together, and hopefully, we can craft the best education and train the best teachers so that they can nurture the next generation.”
Chairman Lee Man-hee of HWPL also gave an inspirational message through a video, “No wealth or fortune can be worthy of a legacy that lasts for generations, but a peaceful world free of wars—a world of freedom, peace and love. These are what we must leave as an inheritance for our children’s generation. This is the work we are called for in our time. It is on us as humankind to fulfill this goal.”
As the conference concluded, Prof. Mark Lataza, the conference chairperson, encouraged the participants to continue the peace initiatives and apply their learnings in real life through various activities to have an “actual sign of a culture of peace”.