A college classmate interviewed me about the peace education I had in elementary school. I discussed with him the basics of our peace education and peace efforts in the exclusive Catholic school I attended for my basic education. During the interview, I cannot help but feel nostalgic about my school life. But aside from that, I missed all the ways I helped, in my own little way, to promote peace.
My school is very active in promoting peace. Our college department even has an institute dedicated for studies about peace. We have basic peace education in elementary school, but that was not enough. In high school, teachers incorporated our school’s core values (truth, justice, peace, and integrity of creation) in our lessons and projects. They often focused on peace, even if our society needs all four values. Why? I guess it’s because of our partnership with a school in Mindanao.
In Cotabato, where our sister school is located, chaos and armed battle is always present. Thus, our school is very active in helping our brothers and sisters, whether Muslim or Christian. Our school encourages its students to participate in the school’s efforts to provide aid to the sister school. We would have our annual “Lugawan Para sa Mindanao” (Porridge for Mindanao) in all of the institution’s units to raise funds for financial and other aid for the sister school. The project is a yearly success, trust me. How can a student of our school say no to our delicious “lugaw”?
When we had Peace Education back in seventh grade, we had a letter exchange program with the students of our sister school. When I read a letter from one of their students, I was really humbled. My pen pal described her life to me and my classmates, and I was teary-eyed. Then I realized that I was fortunate to be living in Manila, where there were no armed battles, even if Manila isn’t peaceful. I was humbled on how lucky I am to be living my life, even if I had my own problems. Besides, I’m not stereotyped as a terrorist. But, that letter exchanging experience made me realize that those stereotypes were just stereotypes. My pen pal seamed to be nice; she even wanted to be text mates with me and my classmates (too bad, we weren’t subscribed to Talk ’n’ Text. She said she wanted her text mate to be a subscriber of TNT).
The Peace Education I received changed me, even in the little ways. It taught me how to manage my anger (well, a little bit), and to appreciate the peace and order in my family and local community. It also taught me to have peace with myself, since back then, I had conflicts with myself. As I said in the interview of my classmate, the Peace Ed I received also sparked my passion and advocacy for peace. In fact, the class sparked my desire to teach about peace and my desire to help give justice and peace to the masses.
It wasn’t really effective to some students, but at least we learned about our rights, equity, some history, and iconic people who promoted peace. If I were given the chance to improve the curriculum, I would. But hey, enough of changing it. I think it’s good enough. At least my school had Peace Ed.
I wish the Department of Education would look into adding Peace Education in the new K-12 curriculum, if it isn’t included yet. I mean, I think this is basic. I think everybody deserves to get this type of education; everybody deserves to know and experience peace. After all, we NEED peace on Earth. If DepEd has no plan in doing this, then it would be a great loss.
Education is the key to growth, and Peace Education is the key to unity. I hope the authorities realize this statement.