How we can incorporate peace education into the curriculum

Incorporating peace education into the curriculum can be crucial in nurturing harmony and ultimately achieving peace within society

Published - April 27, 2024 12:55 pm IST

Now, more than ever, peace is imperative. It is everybody’s responsibility to cultivate an understanding of peace and to promote discussions on its importance.

Now, more than ever, peace is imperative. It is everybody’s responsibility to cultivate an understanding of peace and to promote discussions on its importance. | Photo Credit: Pixabay

When we open newspapers or turn on news channels, we are bombarded with reports of international conflicts, wars between nations, the killing of innocent people, communal violence, societal unrest, violent crimes, and various forms of injustice.

Consuming such news often disturbs our peace of mind and leads us to believe that a lack of peace is widespread and the norm.

In the 2023 Global Peace Index (GPI), an annual report prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Iceland maintains its position as the most peaceful country for the 16th consecutive year, followed by Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, and Austria.

Conversely, Afghanistan ranks as the least peaceful country, followed by Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. India occupies the 126th position out of 163 countries covered by the IEP.

What can be done to strengthen the ideals of peace? Now, more than ever, peace is imperative. It is everybody’s responsibility to cultivate an understanding of peace and to promote discussions on its importance.

Incorporating peace education into the school curriculum can be a crucial tool in nurturing harmony and ultimately achieving peace within society.

What is peace?

Before exploring the concept of peace education, it is essential to understand the essence of peace itself. The interpretation of ‘peace’ varies according to individual perspectives. For individuals enduring conflict in Palestine, peace could signify the absence of turmoil or the cessation of war. For Dalits in India, who have historically suffered injustice, peace could mean the attainment of justice. For those who have been denied human rights and stripped of human dignity, peace could mean leading a dignified life.

Peace can be achieved through various means: the power of law, dialogue, and love. Each society has its own set of values deemed crucial for fostering harmonious coexistence. When a society embraces these values, peace becomes attainable. Moreover, peace and happiness share an intricate relationship; a peaceful nation is often a happy one. Iceland serves as a prime example, ranking not only as the most peaceful country but also the third happiest in the world, trailing only Finland and Denmark. Iceland’s commitment to prioritising the peace and happiness of its citizens, along with its lack of a military budget or armed forces, clarifies why it consistently secures the top spot among peaceful nations worldwide. In 2016, Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, and the University of Iceland jointly established a Peace Centre aimed at promoting non-violent communication, eradicating interpersonal violence, and fostering peaceful relations between states and organisations.

The conventional definition of “peace education” is “the process of acquiring values, knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviours to live in harmony with oneself, others, and the natural environment.” As Fran Schmidt and Alice Friedman (1988) express it: “Peace education is holistic, embracing the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social growth of children within a framework deeply rooted in traditional human values.” According to R.D. Laing (1978), peace education seeks to address conflicts and violence on various scales, from global and national to local and personal. It aims to explore ways to create more just and sustainable futures.

Based on these definitions, the objectives of peace education include enabling students to become aware of the importance of peace and its societal impacts, nurturing an appreciation for concepts like peace, human values, democracy, human rights, and justice.


It is not essential to offer a dedicated peace education course; instead, it can be integrated in various ways. Textbooks could include engaging authentic texts centred around themes such as social harmony, interfaith dialogue, intercultural understanding, democracy, human rights, inclusivity and diversity. When teachers initiate discussions on these subjects, students can cultivate empathy, gain insight into others’ emotions, learn to respect differing viewpoints and develop their negotiation skills. Exploring the values expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution can help students understand its significance. Additionally, activities promoting cooperation and collaboration can further nurture students’ compassion and courtesy.

Nowadays, the analysis of news stories across various print, electronic, and online platforms shows that viewpoints are frequently disguised as news, with many reports framing conflicts between communities or countries in terms of ‘winning’ and ‘losing’. This influences news consumers and foster animosity towards certain communities or countries. It is crucial to raise awareness of bias in news reporting to enable them to become critical thinkers. Additionally, it is important to help students understand how peace journalism, an approach rooted in factual reporting and dedicated to exploring peaceful resolutions, can contribute to maintaining harmony and peace in society.

Mahatma Gandhi, a profound advocate of peace and non-violence, emphasised, “If we are to teach real peace in this world...we shall have to begin with the children.” Are our educators ready to inspire young students and empower them to become ambassadors of peace?

The writer is an ELT resource person and education columnist.

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