Dr Mohammad Tarikul Islam is an emerging political scientist with a research focus on South Asia. He is an Associate Professor of Government and Politics at the Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh. Prior to joining the University in 2014, Dr Islam has worked with the United Nations Development Programme Bangladesh for a period of seven years in various managerial capacities. He has delivered lectures, seminars and workshops at Cambridge, LSE, SOAS, Oxford and different universities of China, India, Indonesia and Nepal. He is the author of ‘Local Government in Bangladesh: Contemporary Issues and Challenges’ from Routledge. Professor Islam is currently co-editing a book “COVID-19 in South Asia: It’s Impact on Society, Economics and Politics” with two young scholars from the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds, to be published by the Routledge. Professor Islam is perhaps the rare academic with a PhD from Bangladesh who has been affiliated with the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in different prestigious capacities (Visiting Scholar and Visiting Research Fellow). Professor Islam speaks with the Higher Education Digest Magazine about the aims and importance of peace education.
Peace education certainly promotes knowledge, skills and attitudes that help people to prevent conflict, resolve conflicts peacefully or create social conditions conducive to peace, stability and harmony. Non-violence and core values of social justice are both central to peace education. Non-violence is expressed through values such as respect for human rights, liberty and faith. Social justice is realized by the principles of equality, responsibility and solidarity. And, utilizing the underlying principle of peace across the level of equitable development.
To build public dialogue, various factions of society are often brought together in peace education activities – usually civil society groups, schools, tribal leaders and the media. Yet because of the many areas covered by peace education, initiatives are primarily determined by culture and context. Peace education and peace building seem to be inherently involved. Education is one of the key components of UN peacekeeping operations. It is vital for sustainable peace initiatives to transform attitudes towards war and violence into long-term behavioral changes that seek alternative solutions to armed conflict.
Everyone wants peace of mind. In the age of globalization and liberalization, the family structure has completely changed. The concept of joint family was replaced by nuclear family. Peace speaks of social harmony, equality, freedom and coexistence. To me, family education is the key to spreading the fragrance of peace and harmony across the galaxy. Let me refer what I have learned from the family. What my parents taught me is incredible and don’t lie, don’t hurt others but try to stand by those who need support. The values of the society greatly affect the change of attitude. In my childhood, I learned a lot from the extended family where I learned the role of people. Every religion speaks of peace, coexistence and social harmony.
In addition to the family, society is an important part of establishing peace. Society has an important role to play in this. For example, where conflict prevails or self-interest ignores common interest, you will find no place for community to live in the spirit of social harmony. Moreover, the conflict between having and not having is destroying peace. I study security studies at the undergraduate level at the university where I offer classes on unconventional security.
To me, the reference to security is no longer just the state, but people at both individual and social levels. However, there is a growing recognition of the importance of working with local political systems, institutions and parties in promoting peace. It is important that international actors strengthen their understanding of political parties in conflict-affected contexts and examine how such parties relate to conflict and peacebuilding, as well as how to deepen ties with them.
As we know, non-conventional security is often promoted through human security. The emergence of the Human Security discourse was the result of a combination of factors that led to the end of the Cold War. These challenged the neoliberal paradigm’s focus on states, “mutually guaranteed destruction” and the dominance of military security and, in short, enabled them to raise a broader concept of security. A space has opened up where both the concepts of ‘development’ and ‘security’ can be reconsidered.
How is the UN struggling to spread the benefits of peace education through its practice? It is clear that wherever peace and security are threatened, the United Nations is expected to play a satisfactory role at all times. But the organization does not always have enough power to silence the guns. For all its criticism, it is unclear whether the UN could have stopped the killings or bowed to the superpowers.
From Plato in ancient Greece, Confucius in China, and Kautilya in India to modern times, thinkers and philosophers have emphasized the importance of education in all civilizations. As a method, education is holistic. It is a great transformation maker and transformer. The study of conflict and peace is based on ‘ideal’ philosophy and ‘idealist’ principles, which teach about peace, peace, harmony, social justice, coexistence education, conflict, conflict management, resolution, human rights, human security and environmental sustainability. Education can serve as a guiding principle for shaping the character of the younger generation who will lead in the future. Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow.
Policy makers, security forces, law enforcement, field administration, journalists and social workers need to be taught peace education so that they can ensure peace while working in their respective fields and avoid conflicts. Instead of launching separate schools or departments, each department must have a course on peace and tolerance education in all universities. Research is equally important for understanding the causes of conflict and violence in society.
Orientation class time demand of teachers of different branches of education like life sciences, business administration, social sciences, humanities. I want the active role of family, society and religious leaders. Political parties have a major role to play. Moreover, CSOs have a big role to play, especially the media. At the top, it is everyone’s business to promote peace education in the interests of social justice, prosperity and harmony.