05/09/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Mindanao: Catholic college to offer peace education

by Santosh Digal
Davao’s Assumption College launches programme that includes the history of indigenous peoples and audio-visual material about the guerrilla. For the college president only peace education can change the situation in Mindanao, the predominantly Muslim island torn by 40 years of insurgency.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – A Catholic College in Mindanao, the southern Filipino island torn by an Islamic-led separatist war for more than 40 years, has added “peace education” to its syllabus for the next academic year, as part of its peace advocacy programme to infuse the minds of the students with a passion to work for peace, said Sr Marietta Banayo, president of Assumption College in Davao. “If we really want peace, we must involve our young people who will someday become future leaders of our country and city,” she explained.

Awareness and understanding of the history, culture and plight of indigenous communities will be incorporated in the curriculum of the high school and college students.

“We want our students to learn more about peace, we want them to understand the true meaning of peace and see for themselves what they can contribute toward peace in Mindanao,” Sr Banayo said.

“We cannot deny that there is really violence in Mindanao. And for so long as there is militarization, then the kids and the children will always be at the disadvantaged side,” she said. Still she hopes that they can be turned into the stronger side.

For more than 40 years Mindanao has been the scene of a bloody conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Filipino army.

Abu Sayyaf, an extremist Islamic group thought to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, uses some of the island’s remotest areas to train its members.

For Sr Marietta “this situation is extremely tense. If an agreement is not found now, we must focus all our efforts towards creating different people who do not succumb to hatred and intolerance.” 

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