Recently the Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC), Interpeace's local partner in Puntland, has published a practical guide to support teachers at secondary school level and higher in facilitating discussions and activities on issues related to peace, democracy and security. This Teacher Facilitation Guide was developed and validated through a participatory process involving key stakeholders from the field of education. It draws heavily on Somali culture to provide content that resonates strongly with the youth of the region.
Emphasizing interactive discussions
The manual emphasizes interactive discussions, activities and group work. The goal is to bring out diverse views and perspectives on peace, security, reconciliation, democracy and good governance in a constructive dialogue. The activities incorporate films made by PDRC's Mobile Audio-Visual Unit, but importantly can also stand alone in cases where it is not feasible to use such supports.
The focus of the guide is on training teachers to be facilitators as they play a critical part in supporting the learning of young people and helping them to recognize and embrace their role in civic processes. Appreciation for this approach was expressed during consultations with educators, as interactive teaching techniques are generally not widespread in Puntland. The manual provides input on tools and approaches which can help to create a constructive classroom atmosphere, manage the expression of emotions and stimulate critical exploration of the.
Youth as building blocks of society
Youth make up the majority of the population in the region, but they face many challenges. The educational system was severely compromised during years of war and instability, the consequences of which are felt to this day. High unemployment rates, lack of opportunity, and a general sense of disenfranchisement are also major problems.
The Teacher Facilitation Manual is grounded in the philosophy that while there are many obstacles for the youth to overcome, given the right tools and guidance, they have great potential to change their society for the better. These dialogues and activities will give young people the tools to build constructive relationships based on trust and respect despite a shared, difficult past.
Culturally relevant content
A clear advantage of the manual is the cultural relevance of the content and related questions. In a largely oral society that has great respect for traditional proverbs and poetry, these methods of communication are very effective at reaching a wide range of people. Past PDRC activities have proven the enthusiasm that youth in particular show for traditional poetry as a means of addressing current issues. The manual builds on this foundation, featuring a selection of poetry and proverbs, often from very long ago, which nonetheless have wisdom which is applicable to today's issues and challenges.
This guide is a starting point; activities and content are intended to be revised, built upon and added to as they are put into practice and feedback is gathered.