Quakers in the World

Quakers in the World

Peace Curricula in Kenya

In 2000, Kenyan Friends developed a peace manual for church leaders. In 2009 work began on peace curricula for schools, responding to the post-election violence in 2007-8. Friends secondary schools began to use the new curriculum in 2011.

The Mulembe peace manual, (2000)

Mulembe means Peace, and is a common greeting in Western Kenya.  The Mulembe manual  arose out of a workshop facilitated by CAPP (Change Agents for Peace Programme), for Kenyan Quaker leaders.  There was a clear need for follow-up materials that fitted the Kenyan context, were affordable, and were easy to use.

Kenyan Quakers wanted to know how to explain peace and conflict resolution, and how to be role models of peaceful, non-conflictual approaches in the strategies and activities they used. They wanted to do this well in different settings (schools, churches, homes, community centres) and in different ways (workshops, lessons, meetings, events).  They wanted help with common situations – domestic violence, human rights, AIDS, and tensions within and between communities over economic, development and constitutional issues.

Mulembe begins by developing a framework for peacemaking activity – facilitating not telling, helping others to work things out and not giving ready-made answers. A variety of methods are described and illustrated, such as brainstorming, work in small groups, and ‘games’.  This is followed by a set of activities (exercises) using these methods in different contexts. The exercises could not cover every conceivable context, but they serve as examples from which many other activities could be constructed.

Mulembe spoke to the needs of many Kenyans, Quakers and non-Quakers alike. Little is known about its use, though copies were widely distributed. However its key ideas and approaches have found new life in the more recent secondary and primary school peace curricula.

Peace curricula for schools

After the post-election violence in 2007, there was renewed interest in the roots of the violence, and in ways in which education could help to reduce the likelihood of future conflict. The new Kenyan Constitution, and Vision (for) 2030, underline the key role education could and should play.

Kenya’s people belong to different ethnic groups, races and religions, but those differences need not divide them. They must be able to live and interact as Kenyans.  It is a paramount duty of education to help the youth acquire this sense of nationhood by removing conflicts and promoting positive attitudes [….], which enable them to live together in harmony.

The government welcomed proposals for achieving this goal, and authorised the development of a secondary curriculum, first in Friends schools, but also, potentially, in other schools. A primary curriculum followed.

Both curricula are sets of activities (like Mulembe) for use in classrooms, and are resources for teachers, not textbooks for students. In essence they are a series of lesson plans. The idea is that teachers will draw on these resources in ways that meet their own teaching and/or pastoral needs.

Peace and Conflict Resolution curriculum (secondary)

Work began in 2009, and implementation began in 2011. Kenyan Friends, Friends United Mission (Africa) and George Fox University (Oregon, USA), have prepared it together.

The aims of this curriculum are
  1. To help learners acquire behavioural knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values […] that will enhance peaceful co-existence.
  2. To empower learners with problem solving skills.To provide the learners with the necessary skills to be able to solve conflicts peacefully.
  3. To assist the learners with the skills to promote tolerance for diversity, cultural differences, and human dignity.
  4. To equip learners with values and attitudes that promote interdependence and respect for the sanctity of human life and appreciation of the environment.
  5. To enable learners to promote intrapersonal relationships at the grassroots, national, and international levels.

The curriculum materials were drafted in a series of writing workshops, involving several teachers, and the activities were then piloted. In September 2011 representative teachers from all the Friends secondary schools attended an induction workshop, and the curriculum is now in widespread use. The hope is that later on it will prove to be of value to non-Quaker secondary schools too.

The Peace in a Community curriculum (primary)

Work began on this in 2009, and is ongoing. Kenyan Friends, FUM (Africa) and another US university (William Penn, Iowa) are collaborating. More information will be added here when it is ready.

Print this article