Prevention of violent extremism and its resurgence amid the COVID-19 pandemic through education in Africa, aligned with the spirit of TICAD7 and NAPSA

WEBINAR on How to create safe learning spaces during conflicts, emergencies and the COVID-19 pandemic 

On 1 September 2021, IICBA hosted a webinar on “How to create safe learning spaces during conflicts, emergencies and the COVID-19 pandemic”. The webinar is part of the project on the Prevention of violent extremism and its resurgence amid the COVID-19 pandemic through education in Africa, aligned with the spirit of TICAD7 and NAPSA, funded by the Government of Japan.  

The African continent has been affected by natural disasters as well as on-going conflicts and political instability. While progress has been made in some countries and regions, many parts of the African
continent continue to suffer from instability and lack of peace and security.

The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic is imposing unprecedented global health crisis, with negative ramifications for social, political and economic relations around the world. Apart from catching the world totally unprepared, the outbreak and spread of the pandemic is negatively impacting African countries, and their conflicts might be exacerbated. 

This also provides fertile breeding grounds for violence. Young people are often seen in the frontline of these violent activities. This project is urgently needed to address the aforementioned problems in the current situation in order to prevent further degradation.

The purpose of this webinar therefore was to engage African educationists on the importance of creating safe learning environment for young learners.

Moderated by Dr Victoria Kisaakye Kanobe, Senior Project Coordinator of IICBA, the 90 minutes’ webinar created a platform for 50 educationists to discuss on the below major points:  

·         The challenges of safe learning spaces and their impact on learners in conflicts and emergencies conditions especially during the COVID-19 pandemic

·         The needs of learners in times of conflicts and emergencies

·         Proposed approaches and Identifying strategies to strengthen safe learning spaces and socio-emotional learning of the leaners, and 

·         The role of key stakeholders.

In her remarks, Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of UNESCO IICBA stressed that Peace is not the mere absence of conflict and weapons, but the condition that enables children and people to thrive and to self-actualize. Peace is the action of governments to build inclusive quality education, economic justice, and social harmony. There can be no peace without justice. There can be no peace when oppression, hunger of the body and mind, inequality, and structural violence exist. She also stressed on the importnace of safe teaching and learning environments for young people so that young people will engage with their societies as active citizens and champions of peace.

The webinar presenters were;

Dr. Tigist Yeshiwas Engdaw,  Senior Advisor on Peacebuilding  and Reconciliation at Ministry of  Peace, Ethiopia. She is also an asistant Professor at theInstitue of Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa Univeristy, Ethiopia. Dr. Tigist presented on the challenges, elements of safe learning spaces and the role of peace education, holistic and integrated approach based on her empirical researches from three high schools in Ethiopia and practical experiences from the field. 

Dr. Ilham Nasser, Senior Researcher and Director at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).  With her rich experience in relation to research presented practical approaches on how to support the Socio-Emotional Learning needs of learners, approaches and strategies on creating safe learning spaces that are inclusive of the needs of learners from diverse backgrounds and respective of their rights.

Mr. Darius Mogaka, Director of University Education and Research, Ministry of Education Kenya presented Kenya’s experience on the needs of learners during the COVID-19 pandemic and the response of the education sector.

Ms. Shreya Jani from UNESCO MGIEP, finally taking the learners at the center shared the UNESCO MGIEP’s initiatives on engaging learners on enhancing their Experience on Social and Emotional Learning for the Prevention of Violent Extremism. The UNESCO MGIEP, Social Emotional Learning for Youth Waging Peace online course uses the Emotional, Mindfulness, Compassion and Critical thinking framework of UNESCO MGIEP to prepare young people to become agents of positive change and create sustainable peace.

During the plenary participants discussed the following points:

-          How safe learning environments can be created in the middle of conflict and emergencies,

-          How learners can be involved and take ownership in building safe learning environment;

-          How to encourage belonging especially for learners from minority groups that might be side-lined in the society.

-          How to manage misinformation that can overwhelm leaders and affect the relationship in educational settings using media literacy and critical thinking.

Finally, the participants reflected and recommended on the importance of building educators’ skills for safe learning space of the in-service and pre-service teacher training programs.

For the details of the webinar kindly use the link to get the recording, presentations and Bios of the Panelists