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World Conference on Religion and Peace
Weltkonferenz der Religionen für den Frieden
WCRP 
World Assembly
Kyoto 2006
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Peace Education Standing Commission c/o Prof. (em.) Dr. Johannes Lähnemann, Lehrstuhl Evangelische Religionspädagogik der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Regensburger Str. 160
DE-90478 Nürnberg

Religions for Peace: 
Confronting violence and advancing shared security
Kyoto, Japan, August 26-29, 2006

The task of Peace Education

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I. At the beginning of the third millennium, Peace Education in and through the Religions faces a great number of Challenges worldwide:
  • Too many children and young people suffer from unjust social structures: lack  schooling and  training, in extreme situations are surrounded by violence  in war and post war situations, are forced to child labor, child slavery, child prostitution.
  • Too many children and young people lack the experience of love, security  and protection, are exposed to consumerism, experience widespread neglect, use drugs and are willing to resort to violence.
  • Too many children and young people lack fundamental religious and cultural orientation: the knowledge of their own religious and cultural tradition as well as of other religions and world views, and therefore are exposed to prejudices, one sided views and enmities between cultural and religious groups.
  • Too many children and young people do not receive the necessary ethical guidance: They will only be equipped for living together in a way that will ensure the continued existence of our planet if they respect their fellow human beings, feel responsibility for all the living and inanimate world of creation, are sensitive to hatred, violence and all developments that threaten life and community.
II. Peace Education can profit from the spiritual, ethical and social potential of the Religions.
  • In spite of a history full of tensions, conflicts and wars there is a deep motivation for peace in the Religions – not only for personal and inner peace but also for actively overcoming aggression and creating a strong coalition for a comprehensive peace. Nearly all great Peace movements since the 20th century – for example the non-violent movement of Mahatma Gandhi, the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King, the anti apartheid movement in South Africa and the change in the German Democratic Republic – have been religiously motivated. 

  • It is an experience of religions that peace must come “from within”, that the “open heart” is a precondition for actively working for peace.
  • The Religions are concerned with giving meaning to life, making interpretations of the world, and not only for short-term goals. The ethic of the great religious traditions is rooted in global, not particularistic, terms. The Global Ethic Declaration of the World Parliament of Religions (1993) shows this very clearly.
  • The Religions can foster the Learning for a Culture of Non-violence and Respect for Life – and this in interfaith cooperation.
  • The Religions can foster the Learning for a Culture of Solidarity and a Just Economic Order – and this in interfaith cooperation.
  • The Religions can foster the Learning for a Culture of Tolerance and a Life in Truthfulness – and this in interfaith cooperation
  • The Religions can foster the Learning for a Culture of Equal Rights and Partnership between Men and Women – and this in interfaith cooperation
III. The Religions have to develop proposals for actions in order to implement their potential for Peace Education 
 
  • Being rooted in an ultimate concern they can give the strength to work in the long, not only in the short term – and this should become a familiar part of all religious educational endeavours
  • From their experiences they can be active in the prevention of conflicts, in conflict resolution and in post-conflict reconciliation work – and for this educational work has to be expanded.

  • It will be important to find a good balance between teaching ones own religion and knowing about the other – and this will be relevant for concepts of confessional as well as of non-confessional Religious Education. Where ever direct encounter between religious communities is possible it should be promoted to enable authentic presentations of religious beliefs and practices. 
  • The Religions have to build up a global consciousness for Religious and Inter-religious Education, for an Education towards Violence free Communication and Conflict Resolution and for Environmental Education and Education for Socio-Economic Development.
    • A basic condition is the respect for the conviction of the others and to try to see it from their point of view.
    • A specific task is to recognise carefully the real situation of children and to encourage their creativity taking in account that children can be educators themselves.
    • A helpful means will be to bring youth together for social action : Youth can inspire and teach Youth.
    • There are many inspiring stories in different regional and cultural contexts which can be used for a fruitful exchange between educators and educational institutions (as an example: the exchange between the Peace Village Neve Shalom in Israel and Northern Ireland Integrative Education Projects). 
  • It is a task as well as an opportunity for Religions for Peace – through its Peace Education Standing Commission (PESC) as well as through its international, regional, national and local bodies – to support the emerging networks in Religious Education, Peace Education, Social Education, Human Rights Education and Environmental Education worldwide.

  • It is clear that all initiatives must be contextualised to the specific area, cultural, social and educational conditions. For example: Japan as the country of the 8th World Assembly of RfP shows the uniqness of a very specific religious environment.
  • A more intense exchange is to be developed concerning the fundamental visions and goals in Peace Education Projects, their training methods, their experiences and the transfer possibilities so that educators, communities and also cultural educational bodies can profit from each other.

  • In detail this means:
    • Encouraging contact and cooperation between theologians and religious teachers from the different religions as well as experts comparative religion
    • Improving the training of religious teachers and the clergy in the knowledge of other religions and world-views and their ethical principles - permitting each side to present its identity
    • Reviewing and revising guidelines, syllabi and textbooks concerning their presentation of other religions and world-views
    • Looking carefully and critically to the history or religions
    • Including encounters with believers of different religions in educational programmes
    • Looking for cooperation possibilities between school and communal activities and to inspire school community projects.
    • Taking in account the possibility of a children’s Conference beginning with the 9th World Assembly 
IV. There are a number of steps to be identified and recommended to equip religious communities and institutions for significant involvement in Peace Education.
  • The fundamental insight of the Peace Education Standing Commission (PESC) is that it needs continuous and systematic inter-religious and international cooperation which goes beyond meetings and declarations (important as they are for initial and repeated exchange and inspiration).
  • The PESC work has so far been successful in that it has identified the fields of action and has equipped experts as well as giving guidelines for practical Peace Education work in different regions and religious, cultural and social contexts. The triennial Nuremberg Forums for Education for Religious and Cultural encounter have been a focus on an international level.
  • Each National Chapter of Religions for Peace should nominate at least one representative who has experience in the pedagogical field to be associated with the Steering Committee and Advisory Council of PESC in order to deepen and widen the work
  • The work of PESC should be brought into closer cooperation with other international and intercultural Educational movements – as in the framework of UNESCO, the International Seminary on Religious Education and Values (ISREV), the European Association on World Religions in Education (EAWRE), and others.
  • PESC should be in a position to inspire and inform new initiatives for religious and inter-religious education in schools as well as in religious communities.

  • Some examples:
    • -Developing ways to show the relevance of spiritual values for educational matters
    • - Promoting weeks of prayer for World Peace
    • - Giving inspiration and help for religious and interreligious learning in the family 
    • - Presenting peace texts from the religions 
    • -Promoting interreligious awareness in and with the media, especially for youth
    • - Strengthening the PESC website, showing also “good examples” of syllabuses and creative ways (art, music…) for the educational encounter of Religions
  • Therefore the infrastructure of PESC needs to be strengthened. Until now the possibilities for exchange and activities on a Global Level have been limited. It will be important to have a professional Commission Coordination (as was possible during the first time after the establishment of PESC) and scientific institutions to further develop and evaluate religiously based Peace education. 
Thinking globally, acting locally and working constructively on the international, regional and national level  – having careful regard to the specific contexts, challenges and possibilities – makes Peace Education in and through the Religions a key tool in confronting violence and advancing shared security.

For further information and suggestions contact: Peace Education Standing Commission (PESC)
Prof. (em.) Dr. Johannes Lähnemann, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Regensburger Str. 160, D-90478 Nürnberg, Germany 

prepared for the internet
by PD Dr Hansjoerg Biener
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