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  • Writer's pictureO. Olowo-Ake

The Need For Peace And Environmental Education In Nigeria.


*Professor Kolawole RAHEEM and Mr. Wole ADEDIRAN

The African Refugees Foundation (AREF), for the past almost three decades, has been an active participant in the quest to contribute to the good governance of Nigeria, and Africa in general, through its activities spanning more than two decades.

AREF has been involved in organizing workshops on Peace Education in West Africa and conducted these workshops in Nigeria, Ghana and the Republic of Benin. The Foundation has also been in the forefront of NGOs, promoting sustainable democracy in Nigeria. Our experiences with our interactions with IDPs and Refugees in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia are what we stand on to present this short paper.

Nigeria, indeed Africa is going through a very tough time. It has never been easy with Nigeria since the colonial oppressors left the country after constructing a pseudo political and economic independence foundation tactically-entrenched in the country.

The solidly-entrenched pseudo political and economic freedom have since 1960 become an albatross on Nigeria till today. The political system left by the colonialists and series of military coups and the civil war, increased the rapid erosion of peace and contributed to higher levels of environmental degradation. Nigeria is at the moment going through her toughest period politically, economically and this is combined with other social upheavals. Simply said, Nigeria is at a crossroad.

This year seems to be a year we can be termed “make or break year” for Nigeria because of the coming general elections to choose a President and other lawmakers for the country.

The economy of the country is not in good shape, insecurity is at a very high level, degradation of the environment is on a higher level, displacement of people in millions is on the increase and this is having a heavy toll on the environment. These are some of the critical issues that the in-coming government will have to deal with and solve these daunting problems within a specified time as to reassure the Nigerian populace of the possibility of security and favorable sustainable socio-economic development.

Too many Nigerians are jittery about their survival, hence we have come up with this position paper, as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to dialogue with the Presidential candidates through the presentation of what we see as the felt-needs of Nigerians for their perusal. This position paper put up by AREF deals with the crucial issues of contextualized peace and environmental education.

The Need for Peace Education

This is a very important aspect of social policy that the in-coming government should consider and fashion out how it is going to make it possible for schools and communities to benefit from such policy for a sustainable Nigeria. Even though education is often given a lot of attention by governments, there are still some gray areas that have to be addressed. Education which is mainly seen as schooling has become a sector that should be approached with a paradigm shift concept. That means our education policy has to be re-considered for segmentation thus enhancing the teaching of some subjects hitherto seen as minor or extracurricular activities.

Education, in general, is supposed to help people become better citizens, get better-paid jobs. Education shows us the importance of hard work and, at the same time, helps us grow and develop (Habitat for Humanity, 2020).

AREF would like to emphasize that without a deliberate reconstruction of our educational policy that would focus on the need for Peace and Environmental Education, we would continue to breed corrupt literates, that would concentrate on assumed economic development which could facilitate and increase violent competition for all resources available.

We are already witnessing such a trend. One expects that by now issues of tribalism and violent attempts to take over land in Nigeria should be very minimal. We have religious, economic, political and social violence rapidly increasing. There is a very high level of insecurity in the country. Education which is expected to help people become better citizens, is actually turning especially the youths into crooks and fraudsters and very violent gangsters, in both basic and higher schools.

AREF would like the next governments, both Federal and States, to pledge commitment increasing Peace Education activities, and its implementation at all levels.

The African Refugees Foundation (AREF) would like to contribute to the paradigm change by using its local and international experiences garnered from the Peace Education for West African Countries (PEWAC) projects which even involved sending some of our staff to Europe for Peace Education workshops.

The insecurity level in Nigeria, politically, environmentally and socio-economically requires very serious attention on Peace Education in the learning institutions. Such attention will stem the current trend of high level of violent behavior in the country.

Environmental Education

This section of the concept paper will briefly address the importance of Environmental Education as a twin to Peace Education. We all know that high levels of poverty is a great danger to the environment because it facilitates rapid degradation of the environment through deforestation, illegal mining and pollution of water bodies.

All these make the environment become unstable. Lack of environmental sustainability might cause conflict over food, water, energy and might violate human rights, and threaten human sustainable development.

Environmental Education is a key to peace and sustainable development and a counter to a culture of war. A properly considered environmental education approach, would promote critical and creative thinking that make the youths become more positively engaged within their communities. Environmental education will help students understand, right from the basic educational level, that the environment is a refuge for them and needs to be taken care of.

So far Environmental Education has not been taken as importantly as it should be. The schools in the developing countries need to put more focus on the need for sustainable environment. A culture of peace can be achieved by the combination of Peace and Environmental Education.

The African Refugees Foundation (AREF) has been engaged in convening workshops for refugees in their camps in West Africa, namely Ghana and Nigeria. The activities at the workshops were based on the notion that a healthy environment will prevent conflicts and promote collaboration among the individuals in any community. Our Environmental Education was not the usual education reserved for classroom teaching but practical in the context of the participants involved. AREF can still use the experiences, including its previous engagements with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for mainstreaming sustainable development studies into the higher institution curriculum, to contribute to the construction of contextualized curricular for schools and communities. It is not possible to achieve sustainable socio-economic development if communities are at each other’s throats because of environmental conflicts.

*Professor Kolawole Raheem and Mr. Wole Adediran are both of the African Refugees Foundation.

This paper was presented at our policy dialogue, titled, 'An Agenda For The Next President', held in Lagos on February 7th, 2023.

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