The Institute for Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) is partnering with the School of Peace in Mytilene, Lesbos to help develop curricula based on peace and tolerance.
The school, established and run by Israel’s Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, educates hundreds of refugee children who currently live in the Moriah refugee camp in Lesbos. Many of these young refugees lost years of formal education during the Syrian civil war and in other conflicts and have not been integrated into the Greek educational system.
As the uncertainty about where they will ultimately live lingers, the students are being taught in a school environment similar to that of their home countries, giving them a degree of security, familiarity and the anchor of national identity.
The current Syrian curriculum, (reviewed by IMPACT-se) does not offer peace education. It indoctrinates, does not provide a balanced worldview, avoids respect for the Other, and professes an ideology that is exclusionary, militaristic and authoritarian. It perpetuates an environment of intolerance and a stress on radical martial heroism conjoined with pan-Arab nationalistic ambitions. Jews and Israel are demonized.
The initiative will supplant the hate education in the Syrian curriculum with positive virtues of tolerance, peace and respect for the Other, ensuring that students at the school will receive education grounded in the values of peace.
Educational curricula are uniquely authoritative: they may embody negative influences, including skewed historical narratives and hatred of others where gender inequality and political violence take root. But curricula can also be the key to achieving tolerant and open-minded societies of the future.
The School for Peace is a remarkable place, established by a group of extraordinary young Israelis. Most of the children at the school have endured the horrors of war, a dangerous sea crossing where many perished and where survivors live in very difficult conditions in the Moriah camp. The school brings them joy. We hope to be able to offer them even more—a peace education based on respect for the Other which may be instilled in them wherever they may finally settle.