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Peace Education: An Instrument for Non-Violence in Africa

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15 year-old Dada and her daughter Hussaina at home in a host community shelter in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. Dada was 12 years old when Boko Haram took her and an older sister. UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

Across the globe, societal change towards progression and sustainable peace is associated with violent revolutions. Although the argument stands accurate to an extent, non-violent practices carry the capabilities of yielding a similar result. Non-violent practice aspires to gradually modify the mindset of individuals, resulting in the resolution or transformation of conflicts prevalent in society. In this manner, additional efficiency is attained, since large scale suffering is sidestepped.

In the case of Africa,post-colonial states found themselves drenched in conflicts ranging from intranational crisis to inter-ethnic and inter-regional skirmishes. Correspondingly, Africa was subjugated to economic and infrastructural destruction, along with social and mental devastation for individuals. As a result, enormousfigures of refugees and internally displaced people requiring shelter, protection, and sustenance emerged, ensuing in global implications. Such factors projected the requirement of critical support for the vulnerable, displaced, and marginalized African community. Notwithstanding, to limit the bloodshed and suffering of the African community, the steps incorporated were non-violent.

To add to the non-violent argument, acclaimed educator Maria Montessori once fittingly stated, “establishing peace is the work of education. All politics can do is keep us out of war”. Implying how education essentially alters the mindset of individuals and paves a path towards peace. Incorporating education in ensuring a peaceful society falls under the category of non-violent practices, and this very concept was adapted by various states of Africa. As, a meeting of a Ministerial Conference on post-conflict and fragile states was hosted on June 2004, by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). In the meeting, a communique was signed between 20 African states, and the Inter-Country Quality Node on Peace Education (ICQN-PE) was formed. Under which, the ministers of education in the African states were required to evolve their educational systems into agencies of forces, to promote peace-building, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and nation-building. As a result, ICQN Peace Education developed a strategic plan to serve as central agencies for cultivating values, attitudes, knowledge, and skills; all of which will contribute to the development of sustainable peace through nonviolence for African individuals, and development in the region of Africa. 

With that said, ICQN has classified its goals into distinct categories. Firstly, ICQN Peace Education aims to initiate intra African exchange and dialogue, resulting in, encouragement for sustainable development via the department of education. Likewise, they carry ambitions for the formulating, strengthening, and implementation of Peace Education Policies and Strategies. Subsequently, successful implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of peace education programs shall be ensured. Moreover, ICQN Peace Education’s goal is to initiate Peace Education capacities at all levels of the African community; which will nurture strategic inter-disciplinary, inter-regional, and multi-sectoral partnerships and cooperation with numerous stakeholders. As an effect, effective research will be generated, leading to effective knowledge production. This will lead to informed policy development, resulting in the effective implementation of Peace Education.

The move towards attaining these broad objectives will require the following activities by ICQN Peace Education. Initially, policy dialogue activities will be conducted between the designated ministers of education, and all other relevant stakeholders coming from conflict and crisis impacted areas. In this manner, effective research analysis, documentation, and dissemination of publications and resources shall be conducted. Consequently, a deeper understanding of the conflicts shall arise, and promising practices for peacebuilding through education will be promoted. Moreover, capacity-building initiatives will be directed using affirmative publications and resources, which will be incorporated as tools for effective policy and practice implementation of peace education. Additionally, intra-African exchanges of expertise on peace in education shall be facilitated, resulting in the creation of a network of education actors carrying expertise in peace education from conflict-affected countries. Lastly, civil society actors will be consulted and brought into the policy dialogue process, to ensure that gaps between policy and on the ground experience are addressed. Overall, these steps shall ensure effective peace education for sustainable peace in Africa through non-violence. 

The input of ICQN peace education can be analyzed through its works in Nigeria. Being the most populous state in the African continent, Nigeria faces several challenges that penetrate in the form of conflicts, ranging from political tensions to religious and tribal violent conflicts. These constituent factors have been negatively influencing the development of the country; as they were left largely unattended. As a result, the occurrence of conflicts was eventually adapted as part of their national culture. Consequently, the current generation has either accepted the conflicts or carries little knowledge on how to resolve them. Thus, the integration of peace education into the curriculums of Nigeria was critical to change and develop the mindset and resulting actions of individuals, and to establish a cohesive and peaceful society through non-violence. 

The most critical challenge concerning Nigeria can be regarded as the terrorist activities of a faceless religious group known as “Boko Haram” in Northern Nigeria, and militants’ groups such as “Niger Delta Avenger” and the “Oodua People’s Congress” in the southern region of the Nigerian state. As a whole, these groups affected the overall well-being of the citizens of Nigeria. Terrorism resulted in the radicalization of youth, low literacy rate, unemployment, destruction of infrastructure, and a declining economy. Hence, there was a desperate need to incorporate ICQN Peace Education as part of the national curriculum; since, it would result in the empowerment of the coming generation concerning necessary skills for resolving social issues, and the refrainment from joining extremist organizations. In the Nigerian educational system, Peace Education will train individuals on the avoidance and management of violent conflicts, the establishment of better relationships with fellow beings, unity, and cooperation between various tribes. As a result, prejudice, stereotypes, and hatred for altering groups shall be eliminated, resulting in peaceful/non-violent co-existence. 

In the nineteenth century, Harris and Morison (2003) expressed that the basic foundation for social change and reform was induced by schools, churches, and community groups. Hence, with education, the hope for the willingness of students to positively contribute to the development of society shall increase, and so will their disregard for violence and wars. It was conducted that, by raising the consequences of war, the students would develop the ability to resolve conflicts in a non-violent manner. Furthermore, the ICQN Peace Education program is highly required in Nigerian primary and secondary schools. In this manner, students will be caught young and their spirit of tolerance will increase. This will equally empower the children with the necessary knowledge of peace and the skills to address the issues without resorting to violence. The teaching of Peace Education will enable the youths to become good citizens that act positively to the nation.  

In the Nigerian educational system, the main things embedded according to the non-violent principles of ICQN Peace Education go as follows. Firstly, the students are taught to respect all rights and dignity of fellow human beings. This includes all religions, cultures, ethnicities, and races. The overlying hope through this is to resolve intra state religious, ethnic, and cultural conflicts. Respecting the rights of every individual in society, regardless of their background can reduce conflicts. Adding on, non-violence is promoted along with obtaining justice through convincing and understanding. Through justice, individuals in Nigeria will not have a reason to provoke conflicts or escalate them. Furthermore, sharing and developing attitudes and skills for living together in harmony is promoted, will put an end to exclusion and oppression of certain individuals in the Nigerian society, resulting in cohesiveness. Students are taught to listen and understand by providing everyone with a chance to learn and share with the free flow of information. This shall teach students tolerance and solidarity, and they will appreciate and acknowledge that all individuals in society are unique and different in their way and that everyone has something to contribute to the community regardless of their ethnicity, language, religion, or culture. Furthermore, equality of men and women is taught, ensuring an equal place for men and women in the building of the state. As a result, conflicts penetrating towards gender discrimination shall be acknowledged and will move towards resolution. Lastly, the students are taught that they have a say in the decision-making process of the government and the community they reside in. In this manner, they shall involve themselves in the promotion of toleration and peace in society; as, they will come about the fact that their contribution will matter. To achieve the goal of Peace Education, instrumental delivery that is geared towards developing the basic elements of Peace Education along with the knowledge, skills, and values that go along with promoting the general culture of peace in the students, is required. This will result in the creation of a culture of peace among people. 

Although Nigeria is far from obtaining its due share of peace and co-existence in society, the non-violent practice of Peace Education has ensured steps towards that direction. If ICQN’s Peace Education is implemented effectively across all regions of Nigeria, the ultimate goal shall be reached. However, some recommendations to catalyze the process go as follows. Firstly, the training and retraining of teachers should be intensified. In this manner, the teachers shall be enabled to acquire the required skills and knowledge for the use of appropriate techniques and methods, that effectively teach and promote ICQN’s Peace Education. Furthermore, the Social Studies curriculum content should be reduced and a restructuring approach should be adopted. This is because Peace Education may overload the Social Studies curriculum content. Thus, adjustments in other contents should be made accordingly. Lastly, the Social Studies curriculum content as of now in secondary schools should be reviewed. This is because concepts that abide by the concepts of Peace Education should be reflected and identifies. In addition, concepts contradicting those very principles should be removed from the course. As, the contradictions might confuse students; resulting in effective Peace Education. 

 In conclusion, the Inter-Country Quality Node on Peace Education (ICQN-PE) was established by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), in hopes of initiating non-violent steps to bring about peace, co-existence, and development in the region of Africa, which is filled with intrastate conflicts, concerning religion, ethnicity, religion, etc. One of the states that have effectively initiated ICQN’s Peace Education in Nigeria, and has taken substantial steps towards changing the minds of the coming generation, to make them more tolerant and peaceful. The overlying goal was to alter society without resorting to violence, under which Nigeria and other African states have initiated steps towards that pathway. 

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Africa

African Union’s Inaction on Ethiopia Deplorable – Open Letter

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The crisis in northern Ethiopia has resulted in millions of people in need of emergency assistance and protection. © UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt

A group of African intellectuals says in an open letter that it is appalled and dismayed by the steadily deteriorating situation in Ethiopia. The letter, signed by 58 people, says the African Union’s lack of effective engagement in the crisis is deplorable. The letter calls on regional bloc IGAD and the AU to “proactively take up their mandates with respect to providing mediation for the protagonists to this conflict”.

The letter also asks for “all possible political support” for the AU’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, whose appointment was announced on August 26, 2021. A United Nations Security Council meeting on the same day welcomed the former Nigerian president’s appointment.

Earlier in August 2021, UN  chief Antonio Guterres appealed for a ceasefire, unrestricted aid access and an Ethiopian-led political dialogue. He told the council these steps were essential to preserve Ethiopia’s unity and the stability of the region and to ease the humanitarian crisis. He said that he had been in close contact with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and had received a letter from the leader of the Tigray region in response to his appeal. “The UN is ready to work together with the African Union and other key partners to support such a dialogue,” he said.

August 26, 2021 was only the second time during the conflict that the council held a public meeting to discuss the situation. Britain, Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway and the United States requested the session.

Fighting between the national government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front broke out in November 2020, leaving millions facing emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, according to the United Nations. Both sides have been accused of atrocities.

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Africa: The G20 Must Recommit to Covax

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It is one year since the international community gave its backing to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility to lead a worldwide effort to end the acute phase of the pandemic. The initiative aimed to ensure that every country, and not just those with sufficient money or resources, could access life-saving vaccines once they became available. As G20 health ministers prepare to meet in Rome on September 5-6, they are in a position to ensure that COVAX fulfills its mission.

A year ago, no one knew when or even if it might be possible to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, let alone the 20 that are available today. But since making its first international deliveries in February, COVAX a partnership established by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has delivered more than 235 million vaccine doses to 139 countries, and expects to deliver another billion doses in the fourth quarter. Only China, India, and the United States have delivered more. This start to the largest and most complex vaccine rollout in history has given hope to millions of people and laid solid foundations for how we respond to future pandemics.

Yet, so much more could, and should, have been achieved by now. It is unacceptable that only 1.8% of people in low-income countries have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 82% in high- and upper-middle-income countries. This shocking inequality is as economically senseless as it is destructive to human life, with the latest estimate of the cost of the slow rollout amounting to $2.3 trillion.

The world was woefully unprepared for a pandemic, and this is reflected in the challenges COVAX has faced. By the time initial funding arrived, wealthy countries had already locked up early vaccine supplies. Export bans affecting key suppliers, and difficulties experienced by many manufacturers in scaling up production to the required level, also undermined COVAX’s ability to access doses early.

Given increasing global vaccine inequity and the rise of new, more contagious coronavirus variants, we must put these challenges behind us. Thanks to the support of almost all G20 governments, alongside that of foundations and private businesses, COVAX has now raised nearly $10 billion and secured more than 600 million donated doses. All the preparations are in place for the most comprehensive vaccination effort that the world has seen.

Based on the committed orders COVAX has placed with vaccine manufacturers and the additional donations, hundreds of millions of new doses should now be available each month. We need to make sure they reach poorer countries and get into people’s arms. To avoid further delays, and for the facility to succeed, we need support from G20 leaders in four key areas.

First, we need doses, and we need them now. The premise of COVAX was always that the facility should be able to negotiate and buy its own doses. With our early vaccine access compromised, donations have played a vital role in maintaining our ability to keep doses flowing to those most in need. Of the 600 million doses pledged to COVAX to date, 100 million have now been delivered. We need more, and soon, with longer shelf lives and greater certainty so that recipient countries have time to plan their rollout. This can be achieved without jeopardizing high-income countries’ national vaccination efforts.

We also need G20 leaders to support our call for transparency. COVAX has legally binding agreements with manufacturers for more than four billion doses, but has all too often faced delays in accessing them. Without greater clarity regarding firms’ order books, it is impossible to know whether these holdups are due to production challenges or preferential treatment for bilateral arrangements. Insisting that manufacturers are transparent about their order timelines can ensure a level playing field where no one particularly those living in developing countries gets bumped to the back of the vaccine queue because of another bilateral deal.

In addition to ensuring that manufacturers keep their commitment to COVAX, governments should make global vaccine access their highest priority. Countries with pending orders for doses that they currently do not need should allow COVAX to take their place in the queue so that we can get doses to needy countries now.

Finally, lower-income countries require continued financial and technical support for their COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. Strengthening national health systems will help these countries to ensure delivery of doses and mitigate the pandemic’s secondary effects, and will leave in place infrastructure critical to future global health security.

By recommitting to COVAX, G20 leaders will recommit to a multilateral solution that builds on the astounding scientific progress of the past year. Based on COVAX’s latest forthcoming supply forecast, when topped up with doses through bilateral deals, equitable COVID-19 vaccine access can protect up to 60% of the adult population in 91 lower-income countries. This would represent a huge step toward the WHO target of 70%, which is needed to suppress the coronavirus everywhere, and COVAX represents the best opportunity to achieve it.

Failure would mean more lives lost, broken health-care systems, even deadlier and more transmissible variants, and a pandemic with no end in sight. The G20 must not allow that to be an option.

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More African Countries Register Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine

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Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is a specialized technical institution of the African Union (AU) that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.

During the outbreak of the coronavirus, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), was established by African Union, as a component in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy and was endorsed by the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government on 20th of August 2020.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), has emphasized: “Africa has to team up with development partners to achieve its 60% continent-wide vaccination in the next two years. I think that is why we should as a collective of the continent, and of course, in partnership with the developed world make sure that Africa has a timely access to vaccines to meet our vaccination targets.”

An official media release in February 2021, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team from the African Union (AU) informed that Russia would supply and deliver 300 million Sputnik V vaccines to Africa. That step was intended to support African countries to attain their targeted immunization of 60% of the population by the year-end. That vaccine story disappeared, but instead what become so common is the speedy registration of Sputnik V on bilateral basis in various African countries.

According to the latest, Nigeria has become the 68th country in the world to approve the Russian vaccine. The use of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has been approved in Nigeria, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in an official statement.

“The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund) announces the approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria (NAFDAC). Nigeria has become the 68th country in the world to approve the Russian vaccine. Total population of all countries, where Sputnik V is approved for use, now exceeds 3.7 billion people, which is nearly half of the global population,” the statement said.

“Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and the approval of Sputnik V will provide for using one of the safest and most effective vaccines in the world. Sputnik V is based on a proven human adenoviral vectors platform and is successfully used in over 50 countries. Approval in Nigeria will make an important contribution to the country’s fight against the pandemic,” CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said.

Besides Nigeria, other African countries have registered Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Reportedly, the vaccine has been registered in Algeria, Angola, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, the Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe.

Russia’s drive to share Sputnik V vaccine, of course, offers a chance to raise its image and strengthen alliances in Africa. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has made efforts promoting the vaccine using all its channels. But supply and delivery have largely lagged behind, the pledges have simply not been fulfilled. Russian authorities have oftentimes said that they would step up efforts for fruitful cooperation in combating coronavirus in Africa.

Promising more than can be delivered appears to be a universal problem with coronavirus vaccines, and it is a real risk for Russia as well, said Theresa Fallon, Director of the Brussels-based Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies. “They have won the gold medal for creating this very effective vaccine,” she said. “But the problem is how are they going to implement production and delivery?”

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), with profit motivation, has attempted supplying the Russian vaccines through, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, from the Monarch family and a third party in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to a number of African countries. For instance, the Republic of Ghana reportedly signed US$64.6 million contract for Sputnik V vaccine from Russia through Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum. It was double the price from the producer as reported in the media.

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted, in a speech early September, that advanced countries that produce vaccines against the coronavirus do little to protect humanity from the pandemic.

“The benefits of vaccination are enjoyed mostly by advanced economies. The bulk of the vaccines is made there, and it is used to protect their own population. But very little is being done to protect humanity in the broad sense,” Putin said at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the Far East of Russia. “This is very bad for the producers, because all this boomerangs around the globe. For instance, in Africa the level of protection with vaccines is minimal, but contacts with the African countries continue. There is no getting away from this. This infection will return again and again.”

According to an official release obtained late February, the Sputnik V vaccine the following advantages:

• Efficacy of Sputnik V is 91.6% as confirmed by the data published in the Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals; It is one of only three vaccines in the world with efficacy of over 90%; Sputnik V provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19. 

• The Sputnik V vaccine is based on a proven and well-studied platform of human adenoviral vectors, which cause the common cold and have been around for thousands of years. 

• Sputnik V uses two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination, providing immunity with a longer duration than vaccines using the same delivery mechanism for both shots. 

• The safety, efficacy and lack of negative long-term effects of adenoviral vaccines have been proven by more than 250 clinical studies over two decades. 

• The developers of the Sputnik V vaccine are working collaboratively with AstraZeneca on a joint clinical trial to improve the efficacy of AstraZeneca vaccine. 

• There are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V. 

• The price of Sputnik V is less than $10 per shot, making it affordable around the world. 

In February, peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet published an analysis from Phase III clinical trial of the Russian vaccine, showing its 91.6-percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. The Sputnik V vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Sputnik V was registered in Russia on August 11, 2020 as the world’s first officially registered coronavirus vaccine. Russian vaccines have advantages as no deaths have been reported after vaccination with the Sputnik V, Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the Gamaleya Center, the vaccine developer, said and was reported by TASS News Agency. “As of today, no deaths after vaccination with Sputnik V have been registered,” he said.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors. RDIF acts as a catalyst for direct investment in the Russian economy. RDIF’s management is based in Moscow.

In Africa, during first of September, the coronavirus-related death toll has topped 196,190, while more than 6.9 million recoveries have been reported. South Africa accounts for a majority of coronavirus cases and deaths across Africa – 2,777,659 and 82,261 respectively. The death toll in Tunisia climbed to 23,451, and 664,034 cases have been confirmed. Egypt recorded 16,736 deaths and 288,441 coronavirus cases.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia is ranked second to South Africa (308,134 cases and 4,675 deaths) and is followed by Kenya (235,863 cases and 4,726 deaths) and Nigeria (191,805 and 2,455). The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached almost 8 million in Africa, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa.

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