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As war ends, Colombian teachers build peace schools

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As war ends, Colombian teachers build peace schools

By Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF

October 5, 2015

 

As teachers around the globe celebrate World Teachers’ Day, BCTF President Jim Iker and a pan-Canadian delegation are showing solidarity in the world’s most dangerous place for teachers: Colombia.

Between 1985 and today, 1,100 teachers have been killed, according to FECODE, the union representing 300,000 Colombian teachers from pre-school to post-secondary.

The visit comes at a crucial moment in the history of Colombia’s 50-year civil war, with a peace accord on transitional justice signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the FARC, Timoleon Jimenez.

As war ends, Colombian teachers build peace schools

BCTF President Jim Iker gives a radio interview on Canadian solidarity for the Colombian teachers’
peace schools project.

 

Iker is travelling with BC Federation of Labour President Irene Lanzinger and representatives of CoDevelopment Canada, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and the Centrale des Syndicats du Quebec. All three organizations are jointly funding a union project promoting schools as “territories of peace.”

Called the Pedagogical Project for the Post-Conflict Period, the project has involved teachers in study circles around the country gathering to reflect upon how public education can support the process to ensure a durable peace. Their biggest challenges in building peaceful schools are in conflict zones where students’ parents have been combatants on opposing sides.

However, these challenges are being confronted with tremendous energy and commitment by Colombian teachers, who emphasize their “pedagogy of hope and love,” which they say is profoundly needed by traumatized children who have known nothing but wartime throughout their young lives.

Iker and delegation members met with students and teachers from an elementary school in a highly conflict zone in the southern province of Pasto.

The teachers have given their school the slogan of “a paradise in the middle of the conflict.” Their courage, despite the assassination of two members of the school staff and the abduction of another teacher, was inspirational and humbling for the Canadian visitors.

                                                   

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NK:Unifor/cc:tfeu


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