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Teaching Peace: A former Egyptian Military School
an article by Joanne Tawfilis

I recently had the good fortune to visit a nearly one hundred year old former military school for boys in a small city in Egypt. This British-built former military school, now part of UNESCO's Associated School Project, seemed consumed with peace and warmth among students and faculty alike. Over 7,793 educational institutions, ranging from pre-school education to teacher training in 175 countries are part of this project focused on education of young people for international understanding.

The school, with 4,000 boys and young men ranges in ages 14-18 and has a modern theater facility, complete with stage, enthusiastic and aspiring actors, and an equally excellent visual-arts gallery. What I saw was a contradiction to the many images portrayed about Arab boys being taught "terrorism".

While touring the gallery, a special piece of sculpture caught attracted my attention. I became transfixed with the beauty and the horror of it, compressed all at once into a stirring emotion. The sculpture was actually in the form of a tree, but as we moved closer, it was easy to see the tree was in the shape of a womanís torso - arms and legs ripped off. In the stomach of the torso was the image of an unborn child in the fetal position.

When enquiring about the origin of the sculpture, the art teachers explained that the group had created this piece as a representation of the victims of war, specifically in this case, the invasion of Iraq, and how in their view, women and children suffer so greatly.

Their conclusion however, was that there is hope in new birth or rebirth and that despite conflicts and violence, future generations continue to be born and will grow up to help create, celebrate and live for peace.

This message was passionately burned into the hearts and souls of the students and teachers that created this and other pieces, and although saddened that traditional media would hardly ever portray this "spin", my heart was alive with HOPE, and the knowledge that the Decade of the Culture of Peace was indeed working.


Question(s) related to this article:

UNESCO Associated Schools, How does their teaching promote the culture of peace?

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Latest reader comment:

Thanks for the informaion on the Egyptian school, and for leading me to this interesting site. †The resources devoted to Breaking the Silence about the slave trade are very impressive. That 150 schools are linked in 23 countries is exciting. And to follow their study of sustainable development is a hopeful sign of worldwide cooperation.

This report was posted on February 22, 2006.