Date: 28-11-2023

Fostering Peace and Democracy in Classrooms

Fostering Peace and Democracy in Classrooms 

Between October 7-9, 2023, ISSA Member, the Center for Educational Initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina held the 14th Regional Conference of the Community of Innovative Teachers. This year’s theme was “Teachers as Peace Builders”. 

The conference brought together passionate educationalists from across the region to create new ideas and build good educational practices that uphold and instil the values of peace and empathy in generations of children through their education. The goal of this endeavour being to curb the alarming increase of violence and bullying in schools, to protect the joy of childhood for every child. 

The first day of the conference set the scene with speeches explaining why it is important to invest in peace and the central role teachers play in building peace in classrooms.  

On the second day of the conference the conversation on how sustainable peace can be taught and built in classrooms continued. The day’s program included dozens of workshops, speeches and presentations covering topics ranging from identity, socio-emotional learning, communication, non-violence, and desired values, to controversial topics in education, and strategies for building peaceful communities. Additionally, the day’s parallel sessions included discussion on the important role of teachers in guiding the learning and use of burgeoning technologies, such as artificial intelligence. 

On day three, the last set of parallel sessions gave the floor to teachers from Ukraine who are currently in great need of peaceful pedagogy. The take home from the final day was that it takes great courage to take responsibility for building peace in classrooms in times of war, yet in these times it is needed more than ever. 

The conference was a great success with almost 100 presenters in total sharing practical experiences and solutions on intercultural education, collaboration, teacher welfare, inclusion, and looking at things from a child’s point of view — and how this translates into peaceful classrooms and societies.

Basic training on the Child-Centered Approach: Kindergartens Promoting Democracy  

Following the conference, ISSA Member, the Center for Educational Initiatives (COI) Step by Step conducted a four-day basic training in Sarajevo on the Step by Step methodology a "Child-oriented Approach: Kindergartens Promoting Democracy" for its expert team and new staff. The training focused on creating responsive environments that put children in the center of learning, development, and growth. 

The training was led by master trainers Zorica Trikić and Aljoša Rudas from the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) Secretariat. 

Over three days, the training covered topics including: 

  • The importance of high-quality education and nurturing care at an early age, 
  • Building shared valued and a common understanding, 
  • Inclusion and respecting the family and the community as competent participants, 
  • Inclusion, diversity, and democratic values, 
  • Teaching strategies. 

The training was implemented with support from the regional project SMART Balkans - Civil Society for the Connected Western Balkans, the Center for the Promotion of Civil Society (CPCD), Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM), and the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM). The training was financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway.