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Peace studies in curriculum to thwart extremism: academics

The integration of peace studies in the curricula of all public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) is seen to address violent extremism and promote peace in Mindanao.

Last April, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman J. Prospero De Vera III signed a memorandum order enjoining HEIs to offer peace studies starting in the first semester of academic year 2019-2020.

In response, the Al Qalam Institute and Salaam Movement is launching the SALAAM: Spirituality of Service Peace Education Module which will be incorporated in the national training service program in universities.

The module will be introduced first in Davao Region while they are waiting for the CHED’s approval to present it to the national level.

Dr. Samuel Anonas, the author of SALAAM: Spirituality of Service Peace Education Module, said the module is guided by the principles of self-reflection, inclusive development, social tolerance, sustainability, and fair judgement.

Fatima Star Lamalan, the Salaam Movement project coordinator, said that during the series of interventions and public consultations prior to the creation of the module all over Mindanao, they found out youths are the most susceptible to brainwashing.

This makes them prime targets for recruitment not just by terrorist cells but also communist insurgents.

“That is why we focus on properly educating the youth through this Salaam education peace module that should be integrated into the NSTP,” Lamalan said on Friday.

Fr. Ernesto Estonilo, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (Opapru) peace program officer, said the government can do all the peace initiatives alone. The complexity of the problem requires the collaborative efforts of non-profits, civil-society groups, and other stakeholders to find a sustainable solution.

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