Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Conflict is a universal feature of human society and takes its origin in economic, social, cultural, psychological and political differentiations. These differentiations are inherently conflicted and become overt through the formation of conflict parties who are perceived to have mutually incompatible goals.
Galtung defined “positive peace,” as the overcoming of structural and cultural violence, which key ideas include legitimacy and justice. Legitimacy and justice must operate at all levels and correct such dynamics as unjust economic relations between the north and south, unjust political relations, and minority/majority groups in countries. It is believed that if young people are trained to have inner peace and an enabling environment can be created, peace could be achieved. Nigeria is no exception in this. Education is a key to uniting nations and bringing people closer together and contributes to building a culture of peace that embraces tolerance instead of violence. Hugo once said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.” The world over, statistics have shown that in societies where 70-80% of its citizenry are literate, the society can avoid unnecessary chaos and unrest, thus bringing positive development to their lives and that of their societies. It is only when people are educated that they will appreciate peaceful co-existence; as they will understand the implication of social vices. A people are rid of social vices only when their quality of education equips them with employable skills that engage them meaningfully after schooling and occupy their reasoning, limiting their tendency towards social vices and breeding peace and development. People who have both moral and quality education do not amass wealth and resources for themselves thereby denying others of the needed resources, conditioning them to abject poverty and suffering which makes them see abnormal activities as a sure way of surviving.
Though education is a sure way to peace and development, corruption, insecurity, poverty, injustice, unemployment, instability, ethnicity, religious bigotry, and marginalization have worsened the situation in Nigeria. Our streets are full of graduates and people who have no jobs which creates frustration and makes them indulge in anything possible to earn a living, which in itself is a threat to peace and development. It is in the light of this that a group like Boko Haram, which lacks education, will attack, kill, abduct school children, and burn schools in the name of religion, claiming western education is “fake” or a “sin.” Ms Akilu once said, “Keep people in the dark and you control them with a single narrative.”
However our quest for education and our desire to remain an indivisible nation will definitely overcome the present predicament if our government will restore the confidence of her people in providing security, fighting corruption and injustice, providing a level playground and fairness by ensuring the judiciary is independent, and providing employment for the streaming population of graduates and people. Uderstandably poverty eradication requires education and capacity building, thus the government must design programs on skills acquisition, reviewing the education curriculum, retraining of teachers, introduction of peace education at all school levels, mounting public campaigns on peace, helping supplementary school systems improve their impact, re-introduce our indigenous histories in schools, and create a curriculum that reflects our diversity with the view of engaging people after schooling.
Esther Yakubu Sule, Nigeria
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2014 Session