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Enhancing Delivery of Peace and Conflict Studies in West Africa

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The need for peace education at the higher educational level in West Africa has become greater now more than ever, especially in the wake of increasing national and regional diversity and insecurities. In the light of this realization, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, WANEP held a two-day Experience Sharing Conference with Educators from higher-level institutions of learning across the 15 ECOWAS member states to brainstorm and strategize on ways to design and deliver effective peace education in tertiary institutions in the region.

The conference under the theme: “Enhancing design and delivery of peace education in West African tertiary institutions,” held on November 25 and 26, 2015 at the Sunlodge Hotel, Accra-Ghana and provided a platform for the educators to share their experiences in teaching peace education modules and explore linkages between theory and practice. Through the various experiences shared, gaps in the peace education curriculum design and development in terms of process, content and methodologies were identified and options for solutions proffered.

The highly interactive forum was facilitated by Professor Isaac Olawale Albert, a seasoned professor in peace and conflict studies with varied experiences both as an academic and a peace practitioner. In his keynote address titled; “The philosophy of peace and conflict studies program and its imperative in addressing West Africa security challenges,” Prof Albert, who is also the chair of WANEP Regional Board, reiterated the importance of peace and conflict studies in our region. He said peace education is critical in helping us understand the nuances of conflicts in our communities stating that an effective peace education program should be able to address our local problems first before we go global.

Mrs. Levinia Addae-Mensah, WANEP Programs Director gave an overview of the WANEP Peace Education program tracing its inception in 2000 to the various milestones that have been achieved since then.

Professor Albert posed three key questions, which he said should be addressed at the end of the meeting. These included; how to bridge the gap between theory and practice (classroom and field work), how to improve and strengthen capacity of peace trainers and how to create additional course units on peace. Emphasizing the importance of building capacity of peace educators so as to position them to prepare students for multicultural living, Prof Albert said, “Until we get it right with those teaching peace and conflict studies, it will be difficult to say that we are doing the work well.”

The conference was attended by academic program coordinators from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.