20 July 2012: The World Learning Grammar School in from Lyari, a troubled district in Karachi, Pakistan is part of he peace education efforts of the Peace Education Welfare Organization. Insight on Conflict’s local correspondent in Pakistan, Zahid, reports on how PEWO is promoting peace through schools in Pakistan.
The school is a living example of what we can achieve via peace education in conflict zones
To value the work of Peace Education Welfare Organization (PEWO), it is important to be familiar with the context in which this organisation is promoting peace. PEWO, through its projects, in collaboration with Peaceful Schools International, is focusing on promoting peace in a conflict zone within the financial capital of Pakistan – Karachi. In this city, there is an area called Lyari, where PEWO is based. Lyari has been a scene of gang fights and political violence for the past few years. This situation continues to have negative impacts on the welfare of children and youth of Lyari.
I visited a PEWO project called “World Learning Grammar School” in Lyari. This school was opened in 2004. The school is a living example of what we can achieve via peace education in conflict zones by providing children with opportunities to not only express their feelings and experiences but also by making them learn peer mediation skills. It is important to know that, not only the students of this school are victims of direct exposure to violence but most of them are also victims of marginalisation.
I enjoyed and learned a lot by visiting this school – an experience which enriched my hope for peacebuilding in Pakistan. The school is decorated with posters of students’ activities during peace education programmes, including their messages and experiences related to peace and conflict. During my visit, I met with the school principal, Mumtaz Shah, and got to know more about the work of PEWO:
PEWO aims to create a culture of peace in a learning environment, via schools.
Ms. Shah mentioned that they regularly get good feedback from parents. She emphasized on the culture of violence in Lyari, even at home, by mentioning that men in Lyari are abusive towards women. Therefore, there is a predominant culture of violence and it has implications for school going children. However, once these children come to their school, the teachers and parents have seen a change in them. These children have become friendly, cooperative and peaceful, which Ms. Shah has been observing in her classrooms. In a way projects like these are growing seeds of peace at small scales and need to be replicated at bigger levels.
PEWO aims to create a culture of peace in a learning environment, via schools. In its education programmes, the organisation follows the Peaceful Schools International’s holistic approach for promoting peace in communities disturbed by conflicts. PEWO, after successful projects in Karachi, particularly in Lyari, is new spreading its wings to other parts of the country. It is important to mention that in this endeavour of collaborations with other national organisations, Peace Direct has also played its small part because PEWO’s Nadeem Ghazi participated in the Islamabad Peace Exchange.
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