NEW YORK, USA, 26 December, 2013 – In this year-end episode of Beyond School Books, we bring you perspectives on peacebuilding from our guests this past year.
Kyle Pruett, professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University, explains how violence around young children can create a dangerous cycle. “Military activity, violent activity, certainly disrupts parental life, but it can destroy infant life in ways we are only now beginning to understand,” he says. “Those stressful experiences change hormonal responses, they change personality – and, unless we can help those children early, they stay fixed in ways that turn out to be destructive for the whole community.”
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Christina Ramsay, 25, is a student at university in the United Kingdom – and a human rights advocate. She believes that everyone benefits when young children are educated in human rights. “I didn’t even know my human rights when I was younger,” she says. “The [United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child] – I didn’t know until I attended college. And that’s way too late. There’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is teach the younger ones. But, it shouldn’t be a select few who know about human rights,” she says.
Salatiel Ntakirutimana is someone who can testify first-hand as to the benefits of education in bringing peace to people’s lives. Mr. Ntakirutimana survived conflict in Burundi. Thanks to education, his path brought him from a refugee camp to university, where he is a stellar student. “I think I managed to move from that vulnerable orphan in a refugee camp to a student at Harvard [University] because someone told me: Wherever you are, try to be the best. And you try to find a solution to your own problem – and make sure you use the resources you have productively and profitably, as much as you can,” he says.
But it’s not a simple process. Children affected by conflict situations – especially girls – are one the largest groups of children out of school. Mariam Khalique is Malala Yousefzai’s teacher; Malala stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban a year ago. According to Ms. Khalique, in Pakistan’s Pashtun society, it is difficult for girls even to leave their houses. But, girls are beginning to understand the importance of education, and, as Malala has done, they are fighting for their rights.
“Education is not a right that is bestowed upon us by our fathers and brothers,” says Ms. Khalique. “This is an inborn right. This is not a favour that someone is doing with us. We should work hard and strive hard if we are deprived from it.”
Story by Rudina Vojvoda