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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 1, September 2005

The World Peace Education Forum

by Jacqui Birchall

June 2006 is going to be an exciting month. The World Peace Forum (WPF) will be held in Vancouver from June 23 to June 28. The WPF, a major international gathering on peace, will provide an umbrella for movements and organizations working on peace to come together, to network, and to demonstrate that there is a growing international commitment to peace, justice, and sustainability. Check the web site at www.worldpeaceforum.ca. The World Peace Forum follows the World Urban Forum, another exciting event coming to B.C. This is a United Nations Settlements program that is also being held in Vancouver. The World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, and policies. It is projected that in the next 50 years, two-thirds of humanity will be living in towns and cities. A major challenge is to minimize burgeoning poverty in cities, improve the urban poor’s access to basic facilities such as shelter, clean water, and sanitation, and achieve environment-friendly, sustainable urban growth and development. Check their web site at www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006/default/asp.

World Education Peace Forum

Within the WPF, will be the World Peace Education Forum, taking place from June 25 to 27. The education component of the WPF seeks to bring together teachers, students, elders, and citizens with interests from pre-school to post-secondary education: to discuss, produce, disperse curricula of peace, including teaching programs, activities, and methodologies; to discuss and model teaching and organizational strategies that can be replicated to sustain efforts of peace organizations beyond the time frame of the World Peace Forum; and to transform society by seeking answers to the question, how, through education, are we going to get the world we want?

The committee creating the World Peace Education Forum is made up of B.C. classroom teachers and BCTF staff. We invite you to share your knowledge with the 2,000 expected participants from around the world who are committed to building peace, contesting global militarism, and making aggressive solutions intolerable. The education conference strand of the WPF will begin on Sunday, June 25. The conference themes are: teaching for peace in times of war, in times of oppression, and in times of reconciliation.

Educators and students who are experienced in teaching and learning in times of active warfare will discuss the ramifications for education during conflict. Aboriginal leaders and others who have experienced the post-colonial legacies of war and violence will address economic and discriminatory oppression in the form of poverty, sexism, and racism.

The participants will hear from educators living in countries trying to reconcile a violent past. The forum will encompass plenary sessions, workshops, and informal discussion groups devoted to activities of a broad and diverse nature from presenters gathered from around the world. All presentations, workshops, and activities will try to use co-operative, participatory, and interactive methodologies.

If you wish to be a presenter, or know someone who does, go to bctf.ca and scroll down to Peace Education Forum request for proposals. The deadline is November 15, 2005.

There is much to be done before the WPEC. Teacher and student activities in schools around B.C. that relate to peace are strongly encouraged. Remember that peace involves many aspects. The right of people to education, health, safety, a home, food, etc., all come under the auspices of peace.

Grants available

The committee encourages teachers around B.C. to apply to the Ed May Social Responsibility Fund, which provides teachers with funding to promote socially responsible teaching in inclusive and healthy schools, by providing money to assist teachers in developing and implementing violence prevention, antiracist, multicultural, gender equality, global, environmental, or peace resources. For more information on this fund, go to www.bctf.ca/social/social.html.#Ed

Contact your locals for information on social justice grants, which also provide funds for exciting and innovative initiatives.

We also hope that locals will fund speakers, particularly those from the southern hemisphere. Smaller locals could join together to financially support such speakers. Program information will make note of such sponsorships. Contact Jane Turner for more information on this aspect of the forum.

World Urban Cafés

The Environmental Youth Alliance, a B.C. based organization that works with youth around the world is going to be offering World Urban Cafés to schools around B.C. These urban cafés will bring youth activists from Africa, Asia, and Latin America together with hip hop messages of social commentary on what is happening worldwide. These cafés are designed to include talent from each secondary school that hosts a World Urban Café. Matching funding will be required from each school. Please contact the EYA at info@eya.com, or telephone


Peace and justice banners

Because Vancouver is hosting the WPF, the Vancouver School Board agreed to become involved, to finance and to encourage schools to create peace and justice banners that would then be reproduced and displayed throughout the city. Flag-making companies gave advice on size and composition and Vancouver students unveiled ten flag designs in Vancouver City Council Chambers, in June. Apparently there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Imagine student-designed peace flags flying all around the world. Could your community be one of those flying those flags? There are many, many ways to become involved in the WPEF.

Registration information will be available in the near future. Participants will be able to register for both the WPF and the WPEF, or just register for partial attendance. Many exciting mixes will be available.

For more information on the World Peace Education Forum, contact the committee chair, Jane Turner, at jturner@bctf.ca.

Jacqui Birchall is a teacher at Fraser Heights Secondary School, Surrey, and a member of WEPF organizing committee.

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