Youth lead­ers and teach­ers as force mul­ti­pli­ers

Sun.Star Baguio - - OPINION -

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.

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