In Iraq, formal education has become a gateway for youth determined to see their country recover from decades of conflict and live together in peace. Forty-four students from Anbar, Baghdad and Mosul Universities joined the first cohort to complete a Post-Graduate Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies in late 2019, integrating a variety of academic disciplines to demonstrate their commitment to a united Iraq.
“Because of what we’ve experienced, it’s important to invest in peace studies,” says Dr Abdu Jabar, Director of the Postgraduate Studies Department at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. “We believe that educated individuals become messengers in their communities, to spread a culture of peace.”
Over a two-year period, UNDP, local NGO, Iraqi al Amal and the University of Innsbruck (Austria) supported academics from Baghdad, Tikrit, Anbar, Basra, Karbala, Kufa and Mosul Universities to develop the first national curriculum of Peace and Conflict Studies. Endorsed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the class of 2020 will be the first to cement Peace and Conflict as a critical field of study for a nationally owned and led recovery in Iraq.
“This curriculum has an Iraqi fingerprint, reflecting the Iraqi identity, extracted from and reflecting the realities of Iraqi society; not from outside or imitating any other places,” Professor Arif Salih, from the Faculty of Law at Anbar University.
Living together in peace is about accepting differences, while choosing to listen to others, recognize and respect them, in order to live together with understanding in an inclusive society. These students from Baghdad University shared their own messages of peace to mark International Day of Living Together in Peace.