As Nigeria joins the world to mark the 2021 International Day of Peace, an Abuja Author and peace advocate, Uduak-Abbasi Akpabio, has stressed the need for children to participate in the process of peace building. Akpabio, who stated this while launching the Uduak Akpabio Peace Art Competition for children aged 9-13 years, in collaboration with the British High Commission and Saros Education Centre, in Abuja, said her aim is to build the capacity of young Nigerians to enhance peace.
“To commemorate the International Day of Peace, we are launching the Uduak Akpabio Peace Art Competition. We believe it is important to start early to build capacity for peace, good governance and responsible politics; and that will require peace education for children whether formerly or informally and through any medium. The peace art competition is using the art medium to build capacity for peace among our young children ages 9-13.”The objective is to facilitate some form of peace education among children, get children to express their understanding of peace and help us identify their perception of peace and conflict, so there can be effective messaging towards building capacity of our citizens for peace, good governance and responsible politics.
.”The message of building peace is central and key. Arts is a very powerful medium through which children can learn, engage and imbibe attitude s and messaging; so this competition is a way to get the children to think through what building peace is,” she said.According to her, peace education can be undertaken formally or informally, just like any other education and through any medium.
She maintained that children can understand the concept of peace, and build skills for peace, adding that the peace art competition will provide a medium with which children can easily engage on the subject of peace.”At the moment, I am writing a book on peace and conflict for children. I had the privilege, about six years ago, to take a session at an international school among seven to eleven year olds on peace and conflicts, and I had to distill the information to what they can understand, and I realised that children can understand the concept of peace, can build skill and that informed my puting together the book,” she said, adding that entries for the competition are opening on September 24. “Today, it has been fully launched, you have the criteria from 9-13 years old, submission criteria you make a one minute video saying why you joined the competition, and let the child also express their choice of imagery that depict peace.A Conflict Adviser at the UK FCDO, Sophie Stevens, who represented the British High Commission at the event, said the High Commission wants to partner with Nigerian citizens, government and other stakeholders to promote peace and unity.
Stevens noted that there hasn’t been a more critical time to come behind initiatives that citizens like Akpabio are doing to promote peace than now.”You are taking all your experience, your professional and personal passion to try to partner with others to try to make peace a reality now and for the next generation.”I really hope and believe that through this competition you are going to I spite this children to be future peace builders who would make a difference in their communities, influence their peers and would be able to promote peace at so many levels,” she said.Also speaking, the Superintendent of Saros Education Centre, SHE Centre, Abuja, Mrs Rosemary Udoime, noted that at a very early age, children should be taught to inculcate peace because that is a vital ingredient for children to thrive and coexist in the world today because there is so much diversity.