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“Peace” takes over the walls of Jbeil and Chiyah schools

“Peace” takes over the walls of Jbeil and Chiyah schools
After months of preparations and conflict resolution trainings, the students of Jbeil and Chiyah among 15 other schools in Mount Lebanon, finally celebrated non-violence through “Peace” graffiti on the school walls.

Aiming at introducing peace building into formal and non-formal education, the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project targets school principals, teachers, students, school staff members, and parents through its Violence Free Schools initiative.

These are first sensitized on peace building and nonviolent means of dealing with conflicts. Then they establish a working group at the school level which develops “Codes of Conduct for Non Violence”, based on which a set of soft and hard activities are implemented.

Those sessions were organized by the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project in partnership with “KDC – Knowledge Development Company”, funded by Norway.

Aiming at easing tensions among Lebanese and Syrian residents of the areas, the Chiyah and Jbeil task forces chose to implement the Violence Free Schools initiative through peace building artworks.

After finalizing their Codes of Conduct and in order to encourage the culture of non-violence, the peacebuilding taskforces of Chiyah Second Public School and Jbeil 4th Public School, organized arts and graffiti days on November 8th and 9th, 2016, respectively.

The schools’ taskforce selected graffiti as their non-physical activity to disseminate their own code of conduct in dealing with violent conflicts in their schools. In addition to that, the day was an opportunity to announce the completion of the Violence Free Schools initiative in both areas.

The diversity of the students, teachers and parents in the activities was a key success factor. Everybody was sharing a fun experience and exchanging peaceful messages through artworks throughout the day.

In Chiyah second intermediate public school, around 50 Lebanese and Syrian students along with their teachers and parents, celebrated peace through a graffiti, guided by artist Nour Abou Ismail.

The music was loud, everyone was dancing and positive vibes were contagious!

Notably, task forces also came up with the idea of delegating the responsibilities of keeping “order” and “cleanliness” in the playground to the students themselves. The young delegates were proudly initiating cleaning the playground after recess with the help of all the students.

“This graffiti is so important to us. It will stay on the wall for the coming years and it makes me proud to see that I painted “Peace” on my school’s wall” said Mahmoud Ayach, 14 years, student at Chiyah public school as he flagged proudly his ”order and cleanliness” delegate badge.

Mr. Bassam Mattar, Math teacher at Chiyah public school, was an active member of the taskforce and showed huge enthusiasm and support to the students during the meetings and the event.

He explained that “we gave our students the freedom to express what they feel about their school through arts. This is a way to reveal and repair our mistakes as teachers and students. Today, above all, was so important to each one of us. Activities are stress relieving to teachers and students, and have such a collective positive impact.”

The nonviolence day was a great opportunity for the students to enjoy an extracurricular event together with their parents and teachers in a positive context that promoted respect and nonviolence and initiated healthy relationships inside and outside the school.

In Jbeil 4th intermediate public school, the vibes were quite similar. The energy was positive, the music was energizing and all students of the 7th, 8th and 9th grade were eager to take part of the graffiti making.

8th grade student and participant in the taskforce, George El Ghobri, said that this activity is so much fun to everyone. He added saying “it makes me happy to see colors on the walls of my school and take part in painting them. It makes us want to come to school with eagerness.”

Principal Mrs. Houwaida Roukoz said during the event “today is a result of the Violence Free Schools initiative in our school implemented by the UNDP since 2015. Our students have been impatiently waiting for this activity! We really miss having events that involve all the school together as a family.”

Mrs. Roukoz added that to the taskforce, the activity didn’t come easy. They found it challenging to discuss nonviolence, punishments, discipline and respect. “Being violent is so easy, while being peaceful takes a lot of efforts. This is why today, and the entire process are so important to change the classical mentality inside Lebanese schools” she said.