BIS #7014 Fostering a Culture of Peace 

By Mr Rajesh Jamadagni for BISMumbai

Fr Peter Gonsalves conducted a profoundly enlightening and thought-provoking session on ‘Peace Education’ for the educators from Don Bosco, Lonavla, and Don Bosco, Pune, on Saturday, 12 August 2023 at Don Bosco Lonavla. 40 teachers actively participated in the programme. 

The session aimed to inform participants about the need for peace within a society plagued by polarisation, divisive tendencies, and discrimination. Simultaneously, it familiarised teachers with Fr Gonsalves’ ‘Exercises in Peace Education,’ empowering them to cultivate a culture of peace. 

The Rector, Fr Blany Pinto, welcomed Fr Gonsalves and the participants, followed by Fr Ajit Munis, the Principal of Don Bosco, Pune, introducing Fr Gonsalves. In the morning sessions, Fr Gonsalves explored various forms of peace - Personal, Socio-Political and Ecological. He alluded to religious concepts of peace and delved into Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, stressing how unmet basic needs can lead to conflict and violence. 

In the subsequent session, Fr Gonsalves listed the diverse peace education initiatives and stressed experiential learning as the key method for instilling values, attitudes, perceptions, skills, and behavioural changes. An animated discussion on bullying was held, followed by an introduction to the concept of peace according to Johan Galtung, who established the first academic department of Peace Research in 1959. Reflecting on the ‘bullying’ topic, Ms Deepti Petrus, a participant, said, “Bullying is so pervasive in schools. Fr Gonsalves provided insights into various forms of bullying: physical bullying, verbal bullying, social bullying, and cyberbullying and their impact, emphasising that education to peace holds an answer to many unresolved questions.”

The day concluded with teachers from both institutes meeting separately to discuss the implementation of strategies proposed by Fr Gonsalves and the effective use of the ‘Exercises for Peace Education’ manual. Ms Qaafiya Syed expressed gratitude to Fr Gonsalves for his practical approach and insightful sessions. Ms Vrushali Jadhav expressed, “The session on Peace Education was very informative. The topics covered in the manual are suitable for the age group we are dealing with, and Fr Gonsalves dedicated a lot of effort to explaining the book’s content and its practical application.” 

The global violence, including in India, resulting in tragic loss of lives, evokes deep sorrow. Education is crucial in shaping the young minds that embody the future of our society. The insights of Fr Gonsalves will inspire teachers to sow seeds of harmony within the hearts and minds of their students.