Cyprus Mail

Around 2,000 students from both sides brought together over past school year

A bicommunal programme titled ‘Imagine’ which aims to promote contact across the divide, managed to bring together 2,000 students and 194 teachers from 40 schools on both sides during the academic year 2017-2018, it said on Monday.

The Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, which was established after the agreement between the two leaders in December 2015, said it was continuing its efforts to implement confidence-building measures in schools and promote contact and co-operation between students and educators from the two communities.

’Imagine’, is implemented under the auspices of the committee and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) and the Home for Cooperation (H4C) with the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

A successful school year of peace education trainings ended with a festival in the buffer zone at the auspicious occasion International Children’s Day. The closing event took place with the participation of 100 primary school children ages 10-12, coming from two Turkish Cypriot and two Greek Cypriot schools.

“Grounded in a holistic understanding of a culture of peace and non-violence”, the programme is being implemented in two stages: in the first stage, experienced trainers visit the schools of participating students and teachers in both communities to facilitate activities that deal with stereotypes, extremism and intolerance, paving the way for voluntary bi-communal contact at the H4C.

In the second stage, groups of students from the two communities, who wish to participate, are paired and meet in the buffer zone where they take part in either peace education workshops with the AHDR or sports activities with PeacePlayers International.

All teachers who have participated in ‘Imagine’ were invited to a ceremony and were awarded certificates of participation. The event took place at the Home for Cooperation in the presence of the Co-Chairs of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, Dr Meltem Onurkan Samani and Dr Michalinos Zembylas, as well as the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Franz Josef Kremp, and Elizabeth Spehar, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of UNFICYP in Cyprus.

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