Youth leaders and teachers as force multipliers
THE Al Qalam Institute of the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), in partnership with the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP) of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (Ceap), conducted a training on Conflict Transformation and Peace Building Network last August 28-30, 2017 at Conference Room E, Ateneo Community Center, AdDU Jacinto Campus. The invited participants were youth leaders from Maguindanao and the nine MVP Volunteers. The training was designed to support the work of the MVP Volunteers as teachers in the Madaris and to teach the young Moro leaders the tools and skills of transformative mediation for peace building.
We also followed the Peace-building Toolkit for Educators of the USIP as a guide. We combined the two groups to work together to form part of force multipliers in peace building network in Maguindanao. The word Madaris refers to the Islamic schools or Madrasah.
Force Multipliers refer to tools that help us amplify our efforts to produce more output. Social force multipliers refer to our youth leaders and teachers as partners in actors peace building work. Providing them the right tools and skills as force multipliers means that we will get more output with the same amount of effort. The Al Qalam and MVP follow the principle that young people are force multipliers for addressing conflict. They have tremendous capacity, as individuals and as a community, to learn about and contribute to conflict management.
Educators on the other hand, can channel students’ energy and enthusiasm in positive ways. The training also provided them with guidance and materials about the complex nature of peace building and addressing violent extremism. The highlight of the training was not to tell participants what to think; rather, we designed it in a way to encourage them to think critically about the world around them and to think outside of the box based on cultures and traditions.
The principles of transformative mediation are applicable at multiple levels. Because of this, the training was designed that starts with the family, then at the peer to peer level within schools and universities, then within their communities.Why do we need force multipliers in conflict transformation and peace building network? This question was answered in the training by the following points: Conflict is an inherent part of the human condition.
It is natural, and as such, it cannot be eliminated from society. Conflict is a normal part of everyday life and it is part of living in a thriving, pluralistic democracy. What makes a democratic society successful is its ability to deal with conflict, to allow and manage disagreement and dissent among people.Violent conflict can be prevented. Conflict becomes problematic when it escalates to violence. But violent conflict can be prevented. We can teach the youth to assert their opinion while being respectful and open to the ideas of others; to listen with care and attentiveness; and to act responsibly when faced with conflict. Conflict need not cross the line to violence.
Whether on a personal or an international level, peace is possible when parties in conflict with one another use peace-building tools to manage their disagreement. There are many ways to be a peace builder. Peace-building is based on knowledge, skills, and attitudes that can be learned. As such, everyone can be a peace builder. But it is a conscious choice that involves making decisions and taking actions that require effort. In our current situation, as we face many challenges in the world today, we have little time to prepare. We truly lack time and resources, hence, we need to multiply the effectiveness and utility of the resources we currently have.
We do not have money like the donor agencies have. We need to multiply the effectiveness of how we handle our main resources in the society today: our youth and our teachers. SSDavao will have their terms extended until next year. Meanwhile in the Senate, a consensus on the issue has yet to be reached, though the Committee Electoral Reform and People's Participation is set to submit the measure to plenary.
The position of the National Youth Commission stands. It is in the best interest of the Filipino youth to proceed with the SK elections this October, as mandated by law, regardless of whether or not the barangay polls are postponed. Unlike the Barangay Council where there are officials who shall continue because of the proposed hold over provision, the posts in the SK will remain unoccupied.
Holding the SK elections separately would be a blessing in disguise as it would work to untangle the SK from the web of traditional politics that operates heavily during barangay polls. It would also put the new SK and young people front and center in this political exercise, instead of being usually relegated to the margins.
Now that another postponement seems inevitable, it should not result in the Filipino youth getting left behind, again. Should the inevitable happen, drafters of this postponement must guarantee and ensure that youth development is never neglected. In the absence of the SK, youth participation in local governance must be pursued aggressively and effectively through alternative mechanisms.
Four years of youth disenfranchisement is a very long time. It must finally come to an end sooner than later.