On November 28, 2020, around 1,000 participants including educators, students, parents, and women and youth organization leaders from the Philippines joined a webinar in celebration of the 2020 National Children’s Month entitled “Peace: Best Protection for Children’s Rights” via ZOOM Conference Call and Facebook Live.
In cooperation with Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, and Girl Scouts of the Philippines (Pila Chapter), the event was hosted by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international non-governmental peace organization.
With the theme, “Achieving SDG 16 and Spreading a Culture of Peace during Pandemic”, the webinar focused on upholding children’s rights amid the pandemic by achieving a culture of peace at home, school, community, and nation through peace education.
In her speech, Vikki Chingtoco-Yu, Chairwoman of the Girl Scout of the Philippines (Pila Chapter) and Samahan ng Babaepreneur, shared how the pandemic and the unprecedented protocols have been affecting the lives of children in terms of their physical and a health, development, learning, education, behavior, their families’ economic security, and their safety.
Division Superintendent Dr. Concepcion Ferrer-Balawag of DepEd Cotabato City stressed that the rights of children must be protected, especially their right to quality education, despite the challenges of modular and distance learning in this time of the pandemic.
The obligation of the family and the state to let the children receive special care, protection, and assistance as well as grow in “an atmosphere of happiness, love, security, and understanding” was also emphasized by Hon. Prof. Jose David Lapuz, Commissioner of the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO and Presidential Consultant for Education.
After the speeches, the parents and guardians led the recitation of “Panatang Makabata” (Pledge for Children) to honor the rights of children and pledge to protect them.
Peace Education, a key tool in achieving SDG 16 and protecting children’s rights
In order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which focuses on peace, Alecka Fajardo, National Coordinator of HWPL Peace Education, said that this requires all citizens of each country to become “agents of peace” first.
“To do so, it is necessary to improve students’ and citizens’ awareness of peace through education. For this reason, peace education is emerging as an important strategy and a key tool for achieving the SDGs especially for the benefit of the children,” she added.
HWPL Peace Education which consists of 12 lessons is intended to cultivate individuals with the values and spirit of peace. Since 2016, HWPL Peace Education has signed MOAs with 72 educational institutions and schools including the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Dr. Ronald Adamat, Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), ensured that the educational sector will prepare and equip students for conflict resolution and peace work at a young age.
“Through peace education in the tertiary, secondary, and basic curriculum, we could strengthen the foundation of social justice, unity, harmony, and development in our society. It would surely be the finest proof that peace indeed is the best protection of children’s rights,” he added.
“Education is very crucial in realizing peace. The mindset of ‘all armed conflicts can be put to an end’ and the concept of peace should be taught at a young age,” said Chairman Man-hee Lee during the first Peace Education Forum.
Last July, HWPL launched the Voice of Peace PH where volunteer educators teach children how to become peacemakers through peace education for free. There are currently 50 peace educators, and 160 students enrolled nationwide. The Voice of Peace PH will continue to reach more children and youth through Peace Education by opening a new batch in January 2021.