An International Peace Education Network was launched at a Conference in Belfast, 6-8 March 2012. Teachers from Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia and Cyprus gathered together to consider the model of Integrated Education in Northern Ireland and to discuss their experiences and challenges in developing integrated education in their own regions. Dr Claire McGlynn, of Queen’s University School of Education, described the event as “…a unique opportunity to bring together the pioneers of integrated education from a number of troubled societies in order to share their knowledge and experiences.
The highly successful conference hosted by Queen’s University Belfast, the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and the Open Society placed focus on the importance and the difficulty of bringing cultures together in an environment of openness and understanding. How does a teacher achieve this in a school operating in a society with a history of conflict and division? The teachers, academics and visitors from Non- Governmental Organisations visited Belfast integrated schools and toured sites in the city connected with the Troubles. Dr Zvi Bekerman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem said “Paradoxically there is something nice about knowing that others might have similar problems. If you share your story you realize it is not so unique; gaining knowledge about others facing similar issues gains you perspective and – even more important – knowledge of other people’s problems and solutions. …”
There were several outcomes from this Conference:
- The experiences of academics and practitioners who presented at the Conference will be published in a book, provisionally entitled ’Swimming Against the Tide’, available from 2013.
- Plans are also under way to produce an International Peace Education website.
- The attendees have formed their own network to exchange ideas on Integrated Education across the member countries. This will be of great support to their endeavours.
- A programme for more conferences for the participants has been agreed.
NICIE is delighted to continue to offer its support to the developing Global Network and to hear news of other integrated schools emerging across the world.
You can read the full Conference programme here IPE Inaugural Conference Programme – final