PESC-2 Education towards violence free communication and conflict solution
2.2 Klaus J. Burckhardt:
Peace to the City / Steps against violence Braunschweig (Report)

 
The project “Steps against violence” was initiated by Rev. K. J. Burckhardt as the result of an ecumenical learning process which began in an informal settlement called Canaan near Durban, South Africa in 1988 and continued in confronting racism and violence among students in German schools and youth groups in 1993. Rev. K.J.Burckhardt served a Lutheran Congregation of the Ev.-luth. Church in South Africa near Durban from 1983-1993. Currently, the Project Co-ordinator is working as Regional Representative of Mission & Ecumenism of the Ev.-Luth. Mission in Lower Saxony (ELM) in the regional church (Landeskirche) of Brunswick whose Bishop is Christian Krause, the Head of the Lutheran World Federation. 

Under the leadership of Rev.K.J.Burckhardt, a group of German and South African theologians and teachers from Kassel and Braunschweig, Germany designed the programme to highlight structural causes of violence, address the problem of growing racism in Germany and to give students the option to look at alternatives to the either fight or flight response to violence. This is achieved by using the example of South Africa as a metaphor of a successful struggle to fight apartheid and its causes. The programme was put to the test with students of secondary schools (6th - 12th grade) and since has been carried out with great success amongst ca. 15.000 students in more than 40 schools in Hesse, Saxony and Lower Saxony, Germany. 

The project aims at empowering students to resist violence in their schools and to help students and teachers to deal with conflict positively and creatively. For this reason all classes of a specific school take part in the programme which lasts 6 hours per class. The classes have the option of enlisting in accompanying small projects or work groups to display their own findings and resolutions in dealing with violence (video projects, role plays, exhibits, music, dance etc). These elements form the core of a special evaluation programme at the end of the week which is organised and conducted by the students, teachers, PTA representatives and project co-workers for the entire school. 

Multimedia support includes the exhibition “Canaan is everywhere”, a 3-D Simulation “Canaan - the plight of a squatter family”, Video clips, like “A day in the life of Canaan”, “Cry Freedom”, “Tuesday - Violence in a German subway”. Even the internet might be used. An internet chat-forum was set up for 30 April 1998 connecting students of Newlands High School in Durban and German students in Brunswick and surroundings who have taken part in the project “Steps against Violence”. Subsequently, about 300 students came together for an anti-violence protest action on 16th  June (Soweto Day) 1998 in the centre of Brunswick. There were messages by German and South African Anti-Apartheid activists, statements by students concerning violence in schools, music items and communal arts activities. 

The project is concerned about the transparency of the process and establishing or strengthening links of co-operation between communities, churches and schools. Therefore it is conducted on an interdisciplinary basis - connecting representatives from the student body, PTA, communal youth organisations/workers and local churches. Thus, “Steps against Violence” is the first project of the Braunschweig violence prevention programme for schools. It is followed up by trainings on Anti-Violence Training (AVT), Athletes for Non-Violence (Sport statt Gewalt), parents workshops, and a Conflict Resolution Programme, offered by professional trainers in non-violent action. The Braunschweig Programme is run by a Working Group on Violence Prevention which consists of ca 35 city institutions and NGOs (social workers, pedagogues, church workers and communal activists). 

Braunschweig was the first German city to join the international Peace to the City Network. The WCC Network to Overcome Violence connects groups in Belfast, Bethlehem, Boston, Braunschweig, Colombo, Durban, Rio de Janeiro and Suva.
More information can by obtained by visiting http://bs.cyty.com/elmbs/Schritte.htm which features material in German as well as English. or by writing to Klaus J.Burckhardt, Representative of Mission & Ecumenism of the Ev.-luth. Mission in Lower Saxony (ELM) , Leonhardstr.39, DE-38102 Braunschweig, E-mail: KJBURCK@aol.com
 

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