The Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, which was established after the agreement between the two leaders, Mr. Mustafa Akıncı and Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, in December 2015, continues its efforts to implement confidence-building measures in schools of the two educational systems and promote contact and co-operation between students and educators from the two communities.
Educational program ‘Imagine’ which addresses primary, lower and upper secondary and vocational schools managed to bring together 1285 students and 162 teachers from Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot schools from all areas of Cyprus during the school year 2019-2020.
Grounded in a holistic understanding of a culture of peace and non-violence, the program is being implemented in two stages: in the first stage, experienced trainers visit the schools of participating students and teachers in both communities to facilitate activities that deal with stereotypes, extremism and intolerance, paving the way for voluntary bi-communal contact at the Home for Cooperation (H4C). Then, in the second stage, groups of students from the two communities, who wish to participate, are paired and meet in the buffer zone where they take part in either peace education workshops with the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) or sports activities with Peace Players International.
Following the continuation of the educational program for a third consecutive year with an overwhelming participation of students and teachers, this academic year 92 head teachers were also invited to participate in a conference and workshop on “Transformational Leadership for Peace”. The event was attended by the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mustafa Akıncı.
Lastly, due to the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 virus, the program ended with an online webinar for teachers in collaboration with German NGO Gesicht Zeigen!. The final event titled “COVID-19 changes our world – what’s our response as educators?” took place with the participation of 34 Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot teachers from all levels of education. The co-chairs of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, Dr. Meltem Onurkan Samani and Dr. Michalinos Zembylas, were also present. The remaining activities falling under the scope of ‘Imagine’ (including teacher training and study visits) will continue with the beginning of the new school year.
‘Imagine’, taking place under the auspices of the Bi-Communal Technical Committee of Education and implemented by the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) and the Home for Cooperation (H4C) with the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus has just been successfully completed on May 28, 2020. In total, ‘Imagine’ has managed to bring together, since June 2017, 5091 students accompanied by 582 teachers, while 287 teachers and 92 head teachers were trained in peace education. 589 students (out of the 5091) also participated in sustainability activities thus paving the way for long-lasting relationships and an enriched understanding of peace.
Efforts of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education and particularly the ‘Imagine’ peace education program has received special praise by the United Nations Secretary-General in his latest Reports on the United Nations operations in Cyprus.