UNESCO and partners train Master Trainers on PVE through Education
Adhering to COVID-19 protocol, UNESCO and partners trained 53 master trainers (18 females) from the Ministry of Education, ZOA and Iraq Institute for Development, on the PVE Education at secondary schools level. The 8 days’ workshop aimed to cultivate the trainers skills necessary to help teachers, parents and principals to create safe, supportive, and inclusive learning spaces through positive techniques that foster resilience, nonviolence, and peace.
To say that COVID-19 disrupted everything around the world is an understatement. However, its disruptions on the education sector will linger on for years to come unless something is done urgently. In Iraq, a country nursing the wounds of protracted conflict and violent extremism, the situation is dire. Vulnerabilities are exacerbated, and significant progress is threatened across all spheres, especially the education sector. In a country with record number of learners who are either out or unable to access education, if nothing is done, not only will basic right to education not be achieved, but education’s power to strengthen the defenses for peace will be weakened.
More than ever, learners, teachers, school principals and parents need more support to foster resilience and strengthen the role of education in building sustainable peace. Leaving these groups in this critical moment will not only impede healing but also sow the seeds for future conflicts and violence. It is for this reason, and the overall goal of building the defenses of peace in the minds of learners and to create safe and positive learning environments, that UNESCO and partners organized the workshop to strengthen the capacities of master trainers to further strengthen the capacities of education stakeholders in secondary schools. The workshop was implemented within the framework of the “Gendered Approach to Preventing Violent Extremism through Education in Iraq” project that is supported by the Government of Canada and being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Education, ZOA Iraq, IID, and UNESCO Center, Ulster University (leading research and development of training materials).
After a month-long online phase, UNESCO and Ulster University conducted (with the support of the Ministry of Education) an eight days PVE-Education Training of Trainers workshop that brought together 53 master trainers (18 females) mainly from Ninewa and Al Anbar governorates. The workshop aimed to strengthen the capacities of master trainers (who are already leading training activities for primary education stakeholders) to lead upcoming training activities for secondary school education stakeholders.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Santosh Khatri, Chief of Education, UNESCO Office for Iraq, said “the master trainers are the core of this project. You are the ones interfacing directly with the beneficiaries. Therefore, sustained capacity strengthening for you has been a key priority for UNESCO as we count on you to ensure a more constructive PVE-E approach. I hope that this training will make you ready to lead the upcoming training activities for secondary school education actors in Al Anbar and Ninewa governorates, and hopefully more governorates soon.” Professor Kelsey Shanks, Team Leader, UNESCO center, Ulster University, laid the foundation for the 8 days by chronicling the process that informed the development of the materials. She mentioned the initial consultations and scoping research undertaken in 2018 to inform UNESCO’s PVE-Education programme, and the 2021 focused group discussions and key informant interviews with more than 300 education stakeholders. In addition to reiterating the iterative development process, she clarified the approach, and the role of education in PVE. She emphasized that the training materials aim to help ensure that schools do not aggravate the salient drivers of violent extremism but are safe and supportive spaces where learners can access equitable, quality, and inclusive education.
Spanning more than a week, the workshop was divided into the following parts:
First three days covered the theoretical part of the training modules – from conceptual understanding of wellbeing, equality, positive discipline, classroom management, positive parenting, parental engagement, and related concepts, to activities to inculcate these concepts in the classroom or school.
Day 4 of the training was a free day for the trainers to absorb and prepare for the remaining practical days.
Day 5 – 8 of the training spanned the practical part of the training. The master trainers were divided into groups and assigned a topic to present as a full training session for teachers. The facilitators from Ulster University shared feedback and substantiated the sessions led by the participants, therefore, ensuring that learning was absorbed and key messages of each module, and the training in general, passed on consistently.
UNESCO and Ulster University concluded the workshop by taking substantive feedback from the trainers and the representatives of the Ministry of Education to improve the materials before they are used for upcoming training activities.
The workshop was successfully closed by Ms. Rosalee LaPlante, Head of Stabilization, Embassy of Canada to Iraq. In her closing remarks, she reiterated the importance of the project to the Government of Canada. She also mentioned that when it comes to PVE-Education, UNESCO and the Government of Canada see it through the same lenses of striving to ensure that places of learning, and teaching and learning systems in general, are strengthened to be resilient, and to make them ameliorate, rather than aggravate, the salient drivers of violent extremism. She concluded that Canada believes that safe, supportive, and equitable teaching and learning is key to ensuring sustainable peace in the long run. She was encouraged by the partnerships that the project has established and strengthened and assures Canada’s support until the project achieves its result. Ms. Aseel Yaseen, Director General, General Directorate of Teacher Training and Preparation, Minister of Education, concluded by distributing the certificates to the master trainers who have been in training for months.
Given the centrality of the master trainers in the success of the project, UNESCO and partners are committed to ensuring that the workshop continues being a journey of collective learning and development. In the following months, until the end of the project, UNESCO and partners will work on the following with the master trainers:
Evaluation: UNESCO and partners will evaluate the master trainers in training and ascertain whether they are ready to lead the secondary school trainings or require additional training.
Top-up training sessions: After integrating all collected feedback and having the final training materials, UNESCO and partners will conduct virtual top up training sessions to ensure that all master trainers knowledge is properly updated in line with the materials update.
Constant mentorship: As project implementation progresses, UNESCO and partners will continue to monitor and mentor the master trainers to ensure that they are up to date with the topics and issues on the ground.