The Horn of Africa and the Sahel Meet for Youth Empowerment and Peace-Building
Countries in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel are faced with similar challenges to counter violent extremism and foster peace and development. This is why UNESCO-IICBA, in collaboration with the African Union (AU), organized a consultation and experience-sharing workshop on Peace-building and the Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) through Education, from 22 to 23 May 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Aimed at experience sharing and exploring the possibilities of peace-building and PVE through education, this workshop also marked the end of the "Teacher Training and Development for Peace-building in the Horn of Africa" project (the "Horn of Africa project"), as well as the start of the "Youth Empowerment for Peace and Resilience Building and Prevention of Violent of Extremism through Teacher Development in Sahel Countries" project (the "Sahel project"). Both projects are supported by the Government of Japan.
Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of UNESCO-IICBA, opened the meeting expressing her gratitude to the Government of Japan for their generous support to the projects. She then emphasized that the education sector has an essential role to play in peace-building by inculcating the values and culture of peace in the minds and lives of young men and women. This was followed by remarks from Ms. Victoria Ibiwoye, the youth representative for the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, H.E. Mr. Shinichi Saida, Ambassador of Japan to Ethiopia, and Dr. Beatrice Njenga, Head of Education Division, Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST) of AU, on behalf of H.E. Professor Sarah M.E. Anyang Agbor, the Commissioner for AU-HRST. H.E. Mr. Shinichi Saida noted that "The Government of Japan are convinced that education is the key instrument for building sustainable peace, which is why we have been supporting IICBA's projects." He further emphasized that the future lies in the hands of youngsters, and if they are mindful of peaceful solutions to problems, conflict can vanish from the world.
Experiences were shared throughout the workshop from the Horn of Africa project as well as peace-building and PVE projects implemented by UNESCO field offices and UNICEF in the Sahel countries. In addition, constructive inputs were made and synergy for action was generated among participants, consisting of representatives from 13 African countries' Ministries of Education and teacher education institutions, AU-HRST, UNESCO offices in Abuja, Bamako, Dakar, Kampala, Nairobi, Rabat and Yaoundé, and UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office. Participants concluded the meeting with key recommendations on the approaches of PVE through education, ideas regarding the capitalization and upscaling the Horn of Africa project, and action points for the Sahel project.
"Often forgotten are the youth and students on the receiving end. Now is the time to fully harness young people, their creativity and resilience in solving peace and countering violent extremism,” appealed Ms. Ibiwoye. She shared her experience during the panel discussion on youth empowerment in Africa, as a youth founder of One African Child Foundation for Creative Learning. Furthermore, participants exchanged ideas on how to guide young people in the digital age to invest their time and potential promoting peace and development, and how teachers can play a central role. These inspiring notions were collected by UNESCO-IICBA which is ready to work with partners on different perspectives in order to empower youth through teacher development.
UNESCO-IICBA will hold a follow-up meeting in Dakar, Senegal, in June 2018, where work plans for countries’ implementation, a youth forum and study tour to Japan will be further discussed.