Teachers exposed to promoting peace through creative writing

Staff turnover a problem
Stabroek News
March 25, 2002

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Teachers, seen as important agents of change, have been urged to promote peace, understanding and tolerance in their creative writings and other medium of creativity.

UNESCO Commission Secretary General in Guyana, Carmen Jarvis, issued this charge on Thursday while declaring open a two-day UNESCO ASPnet (Associated School Project) workshop at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) in Kingston.

Jarvis said that the workshop formed part of a larger project for the promotion of peace through creative writing. The project to promote peace does not only involve schools in the ASPnet project, but UNESCO clubs of which there are 16 in the country. The ASPnet project covers a number of schools countrywide.

In the rural areas, particularly in Berbice and Essequibo, playwrights, Phyll and Cheryl Winter, have been conducting workshops in some schools, while winner of the Commonwealth 2000 Essay Competition, Dennis Nichols, has been working with schools in the city and its environs. Educator Joyce Jonas is conducting the workshop for teachers. They are being trained in story and poetry writing as well as in grammar.

Jarvis said UNESCO felt that apart from holding the workshops in the schools for students, it would be better to bring teachers together and have some form of continuity. The teachers, she said, would be able to conduct a series of classes and maybe pass on the skills to several generations.

In addition, she said, teachers could act as facilitators and may help the individual child to do further research and discover things for himself or herself. They can lead children to discover their own creativity and can help them to express themselves through the medium that they prefer.

The upsurge in creative writing - including books, short stories, plays - during the past decade, Jarvis said was an indication of the potential of the talent "we have residing within Guyanese."

However, she said that children needed to be given the confidence and the tools with which to express themselves. "They will discover they can be creative," and instead of looking at other people's creativity they will also be able to produce their own.

In a background to the ASPnet project Jarvis noted that the study of other people and their cultures was an important component. Schools involved in the project locally and internationally, she noted, have done this in a number of ways. They have used various media including creative writings, art and craft, home economics, foods and costumes from various countries, plays and stories among other areas to convey their themes.

The themes are those being promoted in the manifesto of peace such as respect for all; non-violence; sharing; listening to understand; preserving the planet; and tolerance and solidarity.