In virtually all parts of the world, there is no section that is conflict-free. It has been observed that, with the exception of a few, most conflicts since the end of the Second World War are mainly intra-state in nature, and that about 36 million children are denied primary education as a result. No conflict, no matter its type, has ever left its victims without indelible scars and tales of socio-economic and political woes.
Nigeria has, for over four decades, been caught in the web of conflicts of different dimensions since the first military coup d’ et at in 1966, followed closely by the Nigerian civil war. All those have adversely affected the psyche of the nation, slowed down its developmental strides, and rendered many socially and economically hopeless and helpless.
However, peace has always been the answer. Ordinarily, peace is the absence of conflict or violence. It evokes the climate of freedom from fear, intimidation, harassment, oppression and brutalization. Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men too that the defense of peace must be constructed.
Therefore, in the present Nigerian situation, which is constantly threatened by security challenges, it is germane that peace education be introduced into the curriculum of our educational system. This calls for radical and urgent educational reform, which is a necessary component of the peace process that could engender equity, justice and national unity.
Peace education, in the present circumstance, is inevitably necessary. Every citizen should be educated to understand the society and the dynamics of social harmony. Peace education should be inclusive. It is critical to maintain peace as it can redress grievances.
Introduction of peace education into the curriculum of our educational system at all levels at this critical period of our nationhood is quite imperative. If properly designed and developed, it will meet the near-explosive situations which have been compounded by the challenging security problems and armed conflicts in some parts of Nigeria.
In addition, peace education would have far-reaching effects on the national economy. This is so because the curriculum contents, which should include among others; rights, civics and citizenship education, would frontally confront corruption – the endemic disease in our national fabric. It is observed that although corruption is viewed as illegal everywhere, “but everywhere it is woven deep into the fabric of everyday life”.
Furthermore, peace education could minimize, if not eradicate, the incidents of school violence, resulting from cult-related activities, and the attitudes or behaviours of some over-bearing teachers and unruly students. The result of these anti-social behaviours have in many cases disrupted educational programmes and activities, and also maimed and/or untimely terminated the lives of both students and teachers alike.
Moreover, the Nigeria’s twin problems – ethnicity and religious extremism, make the introduction of peace education inevitable. Many conflicts in Nigeria stem from tribal sentiments and religious intolerance. A well-articulated peace education programme will facilitate national integration and promote mutual relationships that can foster national development.
In the political arena, politicians have thrown morality, decorum, decency and probity to the winds, hence a needed panacea could be found in peace education. The political leadership has encouraged many social vices such as tribalism, corruption, nepotism, assassination of political opponents, among others. These can be checked or drastically reduced through a comprehensive peace education programme, designed for our leaders, who should be given periodic orientation courses while in office to ensure that those in the echelon of power can speak and flow in the stream of peace education.
As Anambra prepares to go to the polls to elect the next Governor of the State come November 6, 2021, it is expected that the political parties and their candidates should imbibe the culture of peace in their campaigns and play a politics of ideology and sportsmanship, knowing full well that after the election, only one person shall be the Governor.
WRITTEN BY DR. OZIOMA OZOEMENA