Education provides a versatile and fertile platform for the formation, expression and transformation of collective perceptions, mindsets, attitudes and behaviours regarding the conflict. While the content and methodology of the curriculum in Armenia and Turkey may not be much promising in transcending the obstacles to reconciliation at societal level and the mistrust between the societies of Armenia and Turkey, teachers do hold the potential means at their hands to work within the established system, without necessarily awaiting a total policy reform over the content.
Teachers, the largest and immediate group of educators in the formal education system, are not only public servants but also potentially key actors in any societal transformation process.
They are indeed obliged to fulfill their tasks as drawn by the curriculum and associated administrative codes. Yet, in the light of new pedagogical perspectives, it looks that “how” they teach is as critical – and even more critical than - “what” they are supposed to teach.
“How” they interact with their pupils in the classroom, and with colleagues in the school environment, “how” they practically react/attend to and resolve conflicts actually shows what they “coach” their students for. Autocratic/authoritarian or democratic behavior? Versatility and resourcefulness for peace-building or for reinforcing conflicts?
Enriching professional capacities to induce democratic citizenship skills and practices in the learning environment and across the daily interactions in the “micro-cosmos” of the classroom and to inspire peaceful resolution of controversies and conflicts will benefit the adoption of pluralistic democracy, rights/freedoms and peace in daily life experience as fundamental means to approach conflicts and issues and to develop a critical evaluation of matters in everyday life.
In case teachers act in the classroom as role models and multipliers of a language, mindset, attitudes and practices, and coach behaviours promoting peace, confidence and reconciliation, they can introduce a positive vision to children and youth.
This potential across the field of educators – currently in professional practice as teachers, or, as university students in education faculties – promises a fertile field to build and strengthen multiple bridges and mutual trust between the two countries at the level of civil society.
Upon the experience of other similar work pursued with teachers as the target group, hCa proposes to organizetwo successive one-week YavasGamats workshops/seminars with participation of up to 40 youth from each of Armenia and Turkey. The total number of participants to these two rounds of one-week programs will add up to a total of 80, out of which 50% will be young teachers (in practice up to 5 years) and university students, preferably enrolled in education faculties. The methodology of the activity is structured around a) building a friendly, productive environment among participants; b) promoting active collaboration of composite groups; and c) improving professional and personal communication skills to nurture mutual understanding and confidence. This activity will complement a number of media-, art- and youth-related activities as all these activities basically share the same youth constituency.
On September 13, 2018, Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development (UFSD) hosted a workshop on “Exchange of Best Practices in Plastic Waste Management between Armenia- and Turkey-based CSOs and Practitioners.” The workshop is part of a project that contributes to the development of cooperation between environmentalists, waste management practitioners, businesses and local authorities of Armenia and Turkey through sharing best practices in plastic waste management. The grantee, Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development in partnership with the Union of Diyarbakir Young Businessmen organized a 1-day workshop in Diyarbakir with participation of 20 representatives of local authorities, plastic waste management practitioners, environmental CSOs, businesses in the field of plastic waste separation and recycling from Armenia and Turkey. The workshop was followed by a study visit to Plastic Waste Recycling Plant in Diyarbakir, as well as a follow-up exchange workshop in Yerevan. Based on the results of the study visit and workshops UFSD will produce a booklet on the best practices of plastic waste management in Armenia and Turkey. The project will result in an increased awareness of stakeholders of the plastic waste management practiced on the other side of the border, as well as will provide an opportunity for networking between practitioners and businesses focusing on plastic waste management. Representatives of local authorities may consider replicating the best practices in plastic waste management in their own communities.
This activity took place within the framework of the Sub-grants Scheme implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation as part of the “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Process” programme, funded by the European Union and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.