Peace Ed focuses on community approach anchore on interfaith dialogue

The Mindanao Community-Based Institute on Peace Education (MCIPE), which will run until November 29 at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) has gathered speakers well-known international peace educators, inter-faith dialogue experts and peace advocates and authorities involve in Mindanao peace processes.

Dr. Ofelia Durante, the event organizer and concurrent director of the Ateneo Research Center, said the community-based institute will give local peace educators, researchers, policy makers, and development workers a good venue to explore avenues for institutionalizing peace education, interfaith dialogue and peace process.

The theme of the four-day conference is  “Interfaith Dialogue, the Mindanao Peace Process and Peace Education: A Response to the Mindanao Conflict.” “It is an offshoot of the International Institute for Peace Education (IIPE) held annually in various parts of the world,” Durante said.

Father Antonio Moreno, ADZU president and host of the event, said the gathering is “very positive because our local peace workers can also experience these in-depth discussions on peace-building similar to that in IIPE, especially touching on the grassroots issues.”

In his keynote speech, renowned international peace educator Dr. Toh Swee-Hin also stressed a “grassroots factor” as more crucial instrument in any peace-building efforts, including the seemingly complicated peace processes in Mindanao.

Dr. Toh, director of the Multi-faith Center based in Australia’s University of Griffith, said in any peace processes, participation from the local community should be always on the top of the agenda.

“Any peace-building framework should always be grounded on the grassroots level particularly putting into considerations local context and realities,” he said, adding when we talk of holistic peace process – whether it is between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the government or with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – “we should foremost put into consideration that the communities should be at the top of it.”

“Because they (locals) will be the primary stakeholders of any accord that would be agreed upon in any talks,” he said.” We also have to empower them to directly engage and challenge both parties for more responsive policies that are crucial to solid and peaceful community,” he explained.

Dr. Toh has been doing peace education since the mid-1970s and had been granted several awards for this effort including the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 2000. He is particularly known for his six paths to peace framework of peace education, which is now widely used in peace education arena worldwide.

Besides Dr. Toh, other speakers are Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Tony Jenkins, Dr. Akihiro Chiba of the Japan’s International Christian University, Lingap Institute President Virginia Cawagas, Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Muslim scholar Aleem Alias Macarandas, Beting Colmo, Fomer Presidential Peace Adviser Ging Deles, Atty. Benedicto Bacani of the Cotabato-based Institute of Autonomy and Governance, Bangsamoro Development Agency Executive Director Dr Danda Juanday, Fr Roberto Layson, Vic Saway and Guiamel Alim. (Nung Aljani/MindaNews)