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Festive Violence-Free Schools ceremony at the Minieh El Makaleh Public School
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Festive Violence-Free Schools ceremony at the Minieh El Makaleh Public School

As one of the participants in the Violence Free Schools initiative, the Minieh El Makaleh Public School in Minieh, North Lebanon celebrated the final phase of the initiative in their school with a festive ceremony.

The UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project has been active in Tripoli, North Lebanon, and its neighboring areas through its Violence-Free Schools (VFS) initiative, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, funded by Germany with the technical support from Center for Active Citizenship (CAC) and For Development.

The Minieh El Makaleh Public School is one of 15 schools selected by the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project to integrate peace building concepts into the school environment. The project aims at sensitizing the school community (teachers, parents, students and school staff) to nonviolence so that they come up with codes of conduct for nonviolence and identify related activities.

In line with the project’s engagement of both the school and members from the community, the school’s courtyard was filled with teachers, family members, and the students, who were eagerly waiting to show what they had learned over the past months.

The school’s principal, Ms. Claudia Bitar opened the ceremony by saying that: “The journey of 1000 miles begins today. It is the journey we are taking against violence” After that, numerous performances from the students took placeincluding a poem on nonviolence, a rap in the school on topics including rape, early marriage, the right for nationality, self-esteem and confidence, followed by a play consisting of sketches on bad examples of violence in the school and ending with a traditional Lebanese folklore dance.  All performances showed a stunning amount of confidence, determination and joy. The stage was decorated with impressive drawings and the school’s Arts teacher explained that before making them, the children did research on the causes for violence and the reasons for renouncing it. “What they cannot express with words they can express visually”, she said, praising the students for their talent and the school for including art in the project.There was also an impressive testimony by one of the fathers who was active in the task force involved in the design of the code of conduct. The father focused on the way that the process made him look for alternatives to violence with his children “the fact that we grew up around violence should not make violence acceptable”.

The ceremony ended with the revelation of a code of conduct developed by the school itself, which specifies rights and responsibilities for teachers, students and parents in enabling a violence free environment. The jubilant and enthusiastic atmosphere among all attendees gave an optimistic feeling towards a nonviolent future.