war ends, Colombian teachers build peace schools
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
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.
Jim Iker gives a radio interview on Canadian solidarity for the Colombian teachers’
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.