Vice Chancellor Prof. Neal Juster delivers Welcome Speech at MAP ‘Gathering’ Conference

Vice Chancellor Prof. Neal Juster delivers Welcome Speech at MAP ‘Gathering’ Conference

Vice Chancellor Prof. Neal Juster. Credit: Jonathan Robinson

Welcome to this Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) reception. I would like to welcome you on behalf of the University of Lincoln. I know you have been here, in Lincoln, for most of the week and have been kept rather busy. But I also hope you have felt welcomed into a fabulous city, embraced by the University and been entertained well at some of the city’s establishments every evening.

It is good to see delegates from so many different countries, participants and project investigators. It has been good to see some of the work generated by colleagues from Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nepal. I know the reception has colleagues from Higher Education Institutions, NGOs, UNESCO, research councils, and, most importantly, members of the MAP Youth Advisory Board together with colleagues from the University of Lincoln

Of course, today is a significant day in the UK, and much of Europe’s, calendar. Armistice day. The day that marked the end of the Great, or First World War. It is also a day, in the UK at least, when we remember those who have fallen in the many conflicts that have occurred since then.

The First World War was supposed to be the war that ended all wars – but of course, it wasn’t. Although today’s headlines are dominated by the conflict in Ukraine there are also conflicts in over 30 other countries primarily in the Middle East, North West Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, in Britain, the media rarely report on these conflicts – I presume because they are seen as being too remote or not directly impacting British citizens.

I am therefore grateful that the MAP project exists because it reminds us that there are millions in the world either amid ongoing conflict or trying to find some reconciliation once the battles have ceased. Of course, the MAP project is not just working with survivors of conflict, but also of other traumatic events including, but not restricted to, drug abuse, sexual violence, child abuse, and absent parents.

By being part of the project, we here in Lincoln, currently many miles from conflict and many years from dealing with direct threats to our territory, can learn a lot. Much of this can and will be, applied to our day-to-day activities particularly around safeguarding and health and well-being.

This year we have published a new strategy, setting our direction. We have given it the title Transforming Lives and Communities.

We are a relatively new University. In the early 90s, the city and region were struggling economically as heavy industry waned. So local people stood up and took action, raising £30 million to create our first campus building in Lincoln. 25 years ago we started with a few hundred students, with no cash, and surrounded by brownfield land in a City that was struggling. But the people of Lincolnshire took the university to their hearts: it was theirs. They built it. And they kept it going.

With the help of partners in the region, we added new academic buildings, accommodation, a library, a theatre, a sports centre and last year a new medical school.

While the City and the University might be unrecognisable from how we looked 25 years ago when the late Queen Elizabeth II opened our first building just on the other side of the railway, the principles that determine how we grow have always been the same: responding to local needs and working hand-in-hand in genuine partnerships with employers and our communities to make big things happen.

We have been seen to make a real difference and are seen to have already transformed many lives and helped to improve communities. There is a strong and compelling story of where we have come from and what we have achieved.

We now have a strong and compelling story of where we are going. We will continue to focus on realizing our long-term ambition of being seen as a university that contributes through regional regeneration and international connectivity.

Our strategy is built upon 3 key themes: Collaborate, Challenge and Transform. The Mobile Arts for Peace project absolutely aligns with these 3 themes: strong collaboration, challenging what has gone before and transforming the future, particularly lives impacted by conflict.  I am grateful therefore to Professor Ananda Breed for taking the lead for us and to the other partners for their leadership and strong collaboration.

I look forward to seeing the project move into its next phase.

Once again welcome, I hope you enjoy the rest of the evening and safe travels to those who will be returning to their home counties over the next few days.

Capacity Building for Adults – Mariah Cannon

Capacity Building for Adults – Mariah Cannon

Author: Mariah Cannon – Institute of Development Studies

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

Caption: Photo-collage workshop (An example of bottom-up engagement to inform adults) – 8th April 2021, Red Nose Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia

 

While it was heartening and inspiring to listen to the major successes of the Mobile Arts for Peace projects in their initial stages, I was also delighted by the participants willingness to talk about their disappointments. In these spaces we often only hear of success as this is an essential aspect of justifying resources and securing future funding. However, an exclusive focus on success limits opportunities to learn and improve our work and recognise common challenges across projects and themes and subsequently come up with strategies to address them. In the Mobile Arts for Peace projects, a pattern of challenges was evident because of the openness of presenters. In the cases mentioned by MAP partners and dialogue attendees, these disappointments stemmed from similar lack of external support and buy-in from those they were targeting while the corresponding successes resulted from engaged and committed stakeholders. In this case, and in others, we see that for change to happen, there needs to be both bottom-up and top-down engagement.

Creating spaces for constructive dialogue between young people and decision-makers, particularly politicians and government officials presents a host of challenges. Often, projects focus on empowering and building capacity and skills of the young people with whom they are working. Young people are supported to identify issues that are important to them and to articulate them in formats which can be disseminated and shared with stakeholders and those with the power to bring about change. The adults supporting them introduce them to data collection methods, analysis techniques and facilitate events where young people can share their findings. The final step is where the biggest challenge remains. Young people are empowered and develop capacity to speak to those in power – but are those in power capable of listening and hearing?

While copious resources are put into developing the capacity of young people, rarely do projects elaborate or build opportunities for reversals – building the capacity of the powerful to listen to young people. And yet this is an essential component of change. Entrenched social norms around childhood and youth often mean that children are expected to listen. Yet, if other social norms – such as child marriage and gender discrimination are to be challenged – people, and especially adults – need shift their perceptions of what young people are capable of and the role they play in our societies.

Robert Chambers argues that power does not have to be a zero-sum exchange and that to give up power does not necessitate that someone else loses it, rather he contends that these exchanges can be win-win (2016). To advocate for win-win scenarios requires a shift from focusing only on bottom-up approaches. Instead, transforming power requires that top-down approaches take place alongside bottom-up approaches: ‘the importance of bottom-up power with and power within strategies, vital and often primary though they are, should not distract from the potentials of top-down transformations using power over in ways which are win-win, with gains for the powerful as well as for those who are empowered.’[1] There are spaces in development where this has started to take place – such as working with men on issues of gender inequity, see the work of Equimundo, and working with business owners on issues of working conditions in the CLARISSA programme.

As mentioned by the MAP Nepal team, there was greater success when government officials who were involved in the MAP dialogues recognised the value of youth finding and presenting the issues which were most relevant to their well being as it meant that government officials then knew where to focus their energy and resources. Yet, even when adults are supportive of youth activities, in adult and youth exchanges there is the danger that ‘adults talk too much’ and/or present as experts. Taft’s (2015) work on the Peruvian children’s working movement explores how intergenerational collaboration when embedded in contexts of age-based inequality can reinforce disempowering dynamics. This case and others serve as an important caution to those supporting youth initiatives. Without adequate self-reflection and top-down capacity-building and commitment to address power imbalances, our efforts can unintentionally uphold youth marginalisation.

MAP’s openness to addressing these challenges and others suggests that the next stages of the project will be exciting places for learning and practicing how adults can learn to work with youth in bottom-up policy initiatives.

[1] For more on types of power, see VeneKlasen and Miller (2002)

Experience of Curriculum Implementation in Palpa, Nepal – Tirtha Prasad Gautam

Experience of Curriculum Implementation in Palpa, Nepal – Tirtha Prasad Gautam

Author:
Tirtha Prasad Gautam

Focal teacher, Janapriya Child Club

Janapriya Secondary School, Tansen Palpa Nepal

Member of Curriculum Development Committee, Tansen Municipality, Palpa

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

Caption: Activities in Palpa and Kanchanpur District

Nepal is a beautiful mountainous country. The Himalayas are full of diversity as they are a combination of mountains and plains. Being a country with about 123 castes and 125 languages, it is also culturally rich. Nepal is the country of the world’s highest peak Mount Everest, the messenger of peace, Gautama Buddha, and Pashupatinath, the idol of Hindus. About 10 religious sects live in Nepal, the land of nature priests. Although not rich in terms of population and geography, it is a rich and prosperous country in terms of diversity, my dear motherland Nepal.

Palpa district is located in the middle of Nepal, extending 1000 km east-west and 200 km north-south. My school Sri Janapriya Secondary School is located in Tansen Municipality, the headquarters of this district. Janapriya Children’s Club is actively established for the development of the multifaceted talents of the students of this school. Janapriya Child Club, a project run by the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) project under the initiative of the Human Rights Film Center, has been running within this school and service area for the past two years. I would like to thank the MAP and the school administration for being associated with this project as I myself am the focal teacher of Child Club.

After the MAP project was implemented in the school, it was felt that there was a difference in the activities expressed by the students. Not only did students’ learning and achievement rates improve, but their ability to take social responsibility also changed positively. There was a radical change in student participation in all school activities. The children’s club started to organize the Friday program which is conducted every week. Children’s bulletins were published fortnightly. Cleaning of the school premises, construction of gardens, pasting of posters and pamphlets against superstitions and stereotypes started. Students began to present their expression through art. The environment of the school has become very beautiful by putting their words through paintings, short stories, plays, poems, songs, comics, movies etc. It has been realized that learning life and art are complementary to each other. Various practices have proven that no matter how complex a problem is expressed through the medium of art, it becomes easier and the initiative to solve it becomes easier. There was a lack of hygiene materials available in the school. One day, there was a discussion in the office about the picture of Kucho, which was given to the headmaster as a gift by the president of the children’s club. No, why this picture of Kucho came as a gift, and the class teachers said, there are not enough materials needed for cleaning in the classroom. It was concluded that their demands should be met soon. On the same day, after office hours, the headmaster asked the accountant to bring 12/12 bins for dust collection and collection baskets. The moment when the students greeted with loud applause when it was made available during tomorrow’s prayer time is still fresh in my mind. That’s why I like to say that art is an indispensable part of teaching and learning.

Meanwhile, the Government of Nepal issued a circular that all local levels should create a local curriculum of 100 full marks and implement it from the next academic session. Tansen municipality formed a 9-member curriculum development and writing committee including me. A time limit has been set for creating the curriculum to be implemented from the next academic session. We asked the team to work to create the curriculum and created a plan and schedule. According to the schedule, we Swaroop car owners conducted direct meeting, interaction and meetings. Meanwhile, the second wave of COVID-19 3 took place. All educational institutions were closed and stopped. Learning, teaching and all activities of daily life took a short break. All the activities in the school were stopped and we teachers were worried. The solution to the problem was not solved due to the mind being disturbed. Let’s remember some of the activities learned while cooperating with MAP Association. . A little hope rose in my heart and I prepared the lesson material accordingly and recorded it on my mobile phone and started connecting with the students. Students also joined enthusiastically. Our presence reached the homes of students through Messenger groups. At the same time, art was used excessively in teaching and learning. A new dimension has been added to the use of art and technology in learning. In fact, in terms of teaching and learning, it can be called work efficiency. But the construction campaign of the curriculum was still in progress. After life became somewhat normal, classes started to be conducted in direct contact.

Caption: Student Practising Mobile Video Film Making – Janapriya Secondary School

 

As the normal daily life resumed, the local curriculum building campaign came alive again and our committee was revived with effect from the next academic session. Work was being done to collect the expectations of Socar people. Further, the technical experts who embodied it had to be tasked. In two meetings, the means of meeting the expectations of stakeholders were discussed. But finding the right tool was confusing. During this time, we remembered about the Problem Tree. While thinking about that, we started to understand the whole of Nepal and the local environment.

The whole of Nepal is like a miniature Nepal under Tansen Mayor. The caste characteristics, religious, linguistic, etc., are remembered here.

It is felt that MAP has come to solve the problem. Six genres were transformed into fields to make it a reality.

  1. Introduction to Tansen Municipality
  2. Tourism and Tansen
  3. Careers Business and Technology
  4. Arts and Heritage
  5. Health Hygiene and Sports
  6. Moral values ​​and useful life skills

After creating the subject area, if art can be the invaluable fund that connects the teaching and learning method and the evaluation method, for our reason, the theoretical and practical aspects were divided into 50 / 50 percent and the evaluation tool was decided. As a result, opportunities to develop students’ talents through project work were arranged. The curriculum which has been implemented in all schools of Tansen Municipality today.

I think my passion for art would have been comparatively less if I had not been associated with MAP. I have been working as a teacher for the past 29 years. In terms of educational qualification, I have done master’s degree in educational planning and management. However, MAP has realized the role of curriculum development during teaching and learning and educational management. I am pleased with the work of MAP. MAP has taken an incomparable role in the moral and social responsibility of the local curriculum. Its contribution should be properly evaluated and requested for cooperation with contact persons of Nepal Bishnu Khatri, Rajib Timalsina, Pandav Khatri and Mayor Ashok Kumar Shahi. MAP played an important role and the mayor decided to take this project to the executive meeting. In addition, the Municipality has given permission to be the MAP publisher and take the local syllabus for 1500 copies by raising the cost of printing the booklet. As a result, this course has been implemented within the Tansen city area today. I would like to thank all the thinkers who have directly and indirectly helped in making this course. Finally, I will leave by just thanking Ananda Breed, the big sister of us all.

 

Reflections on Agents of Change Webinar – Ayesha Mohanty

Reflections on Agents of Change Webinar – Ayesha Mohanty

Author: Ayesha Mohanty

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

Caption: Kyrgyzstan’s Team Presentation, part of the Agents of Change Webinar

 

 

If you wish to envision the future of world peace, young people from the MAP project shall be your reflective lens. From Nepal to Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia to Rwanda, the young peacebuilders from these regions, equipped with the tools of arts-based research, documented critical issues that they believed impacted their society. Traditionally while these approaches are utilized for peacebuilding endeavors in reconciliation processes, today, there is a need for incorporating the same into preventive efforts and driving more targeted interventions.

In the context of the Agents of Change event on the 24th May 2022 Each project developed by the teams communicated challenges that often went unnoticed in transitional societies and used the skills learned through the Small Grants Project to bridge meaningful participation and partnership for their communities. While navigating through the stigmas and prejudices that marginalized people in their communities face, the teams brought a multitude of creative outcomes. Documented through films, posters, photographs, stories, and comic strips, the young people ensured adequate safeguards by working with skilled professionals such as lawyers, trainers, community leaders, and psychologists to drive their interventions. For example, in a project involving violence against the children of migrants, the members were working with high-risk and vulnerable children prone to anxiety and trauma. Using mitigation measures like involving a psychologist and legal professionals, the team parallelly encouraged legal advice and therapy for those who sought the same. Aside from the mitigation measures, the teams took cognizance of the broader historical context of the region. For example, the project in Nepal identified the ethnic and socio-cultural conflicts that impacted their societies. Integrating a bottom-up approach toward policy intervention, the team used multiple channels for continued advocacy on the issues.

Based on the foundation of the “Theory of Change” analysis, each of the projects reflected a sincere effort to dig deeper into the immediate problems that their communities faced and the existing gaps within the institutional structures – both formal and informal. Through inter-generational dialogues with key decision-makers, they furthered the historical roots of their culture and carried it with a fresh perspective towards the future with the use of social media as a critical channel for communicating their assessments. The event also fostered intercultural learning amongst the team members of different countries and as a member of the audience, one could also identify the common concerns for the protection of the vulnerable and the prevention of the atrocities against those marginalized despite the geographical barriers.

A key highlight for me was the keen awareness and recognition of the diverse socio-cultural factors by young people and their usage in the planning, designing, and implementation of the project based on the arts-based tools. For example, the team in Rwanda took cognizance of the long history of war and conflict that has fractured the society. Involving elements of transitional justice as a part of solutions and recommendations while simultaneously working with the members of the civil society to transform the situation for children was critical. As the teams realize the projects alongside the communities they serve, it is a hope that the documentation of these lived experiences that is often unnoticed realizes into concrete policy efforts by local, state, and national governance.

About Ayesha:

Ayesha is an incoming LLM student at Georgetown University for the academic year 2022-23 on the prestigious Georgetown Merit Scholarship. In the recent past, Ayesha co-lead the Youth Wellbeing team under the UNESCO Youth as Researcher program for the Asia-Pacific Region . Here, she represented both in the Knowledge-sharing Meeting and High-Level Political Conference advocating for the access to mental healthcare within the region for university students with various stakeholders. Her priority interest areas are in security issues, human rights laws and peacebuilding that impact lives of young people through the intersection of mental health, gender and technology.

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You can also access the whole Webinar recording here

How Can Young People Engage Policy-makers?

How Can Young People Engage Policy-makers?

Author: Ananda Breed

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

 

Caption: Policy Brief created by MAP Youth Researchers in Kyrgyzstan

Art-based methods enable different stakeholders and audiences to engage with critical ideas and issues. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project ‘Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP): Informing the National Curriculum and Youth Policy for Peacebuilding in Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nepal’ aims to explore the use of art-based methods to enable communication structures between young people and decision-makers from local to regional levels. In a MAP webinar on 10 May 2022, young researchers from 16 participating MAP Youth Researcher Clubs in Kyrgyzstan and six MAP Child Clubs in Nepal demonstrated how they used art-based research methods to explore underlying issues and problems and to communicate these issues with local and regional decision-makers. Experts from the Open Innovation Team, a UK cross-government unit that works with academics to help officials generate analysis and ideas for priority projects, served as respondents. In relation to creating systemic change, respondents stated that it would be important to build a consortium with like-minded organisations or projects to help put pressure on decision-making or policy-making bodies. The webinar enabled the MAP team and webinar attendees to think deeper about next steps concerning how art-based methods might enable shifts in behaviour and attitude in relation to practices that might be embedded within certain cultures. For instance, there is legislation against child abuse in relation to migration in Kyrgyzstan, but some of the practices have become normalised. Art-based outputs including posters, drawings, films, and performances demonstrated the impact of these social issues on the lived experience of young people. Findings related to the causes and recommended solutions to the issues identified by the young researchers, that evolved through conversations between young people and local decision-makers, were incorporated into policy briefs. In our next ‘Agents of Change’ webinar on 24 May 2022, young researchers from all of the four countries will share their youth-led research projects including art-based outputs and policy briefs through a virtual exhibit with respondents from UNESCO. MAP will continue to engage local and regional decision-makers as we move to the next phase of the project which will focus on building communication structures between young people and policy-makers from local to regional to national levels.

You can register now to our upcoming ‘Agents of Change’ Webinar, or contact the Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Ananda Breed. 

Small Grants to Grant Young People a Voice

Small Grants to Grant Young People a Voice

Caption: A Young participant drawing a Conflict Tree

As a general trend, policy-informing projects in Nepal are decided by donors and decisions are made from the top-down. Young people are often only at the receiving end of development and research projects.

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) Nepal allowed young people to brainstorm and develop a research project by themselves and implement it through the Small Grant Project Call.

From January-April 2022, seven child clubs implemented small grant projects on several topics including caste-based discrimination, gender-based violence, human trafficking, and drug abuse. In this blog, I am writing on how those issues and topics were selected by MAP Child Clubs in Nepal for MAP Small Grant Projects.

In a workshop organized by MAP Nepal team on 27th April 2022, the Small Grants Grantee shared the process how had they chosen issues and topic for the projects. Based on the responses collected in the workshop, I grouped the ideas into five major stages:

  1. Collection of ideas and issues through self-realization/peer observations by young people
  2. Analysing the issues through Conflict Tree Methods
  3. Consultation among child club members
  4. Consultations with teachers and parents
  5. Partnership with other local stakeholders.

 

Young people engaged in workshop on 27th April 2022

A conflict tree analysis of drug abuse among young people prepared by one of MAP Nepal Club Member.

First, teams of 4-15 young people were formed in each school, where they had preliminary discussion meetings. They collected possible ideas, and the issues that they are facing. The ideas and issues were shortlisted giving priorities to the issues which are directly experienced by the team members or their peers. For example, a MAP club from Palpa district shared that one of their child club members got married at the age of 14 when she was studying at grade 9, hence, they prioritized child marriage issue on the top. A MAP club from Kanchanpur district shared that they found one of their peer’s attendances to school was irregular because he had to work to make a living, thus they decided to focus on child labour issues.

After the selection of the key issues, all the clubs used Conflict Tree Methods to analyze the issues. They looked at the root causes and effects of the problem. Then, they consulted back with all club members. After discussion, the issues and their analysis were note down and they asked teachers and parents for help. Finally, our MAP Nepal youth clubs collaborated with school management committees, Parents Teachers Association, Mothers Committee, Local Government, Local Music and Arts clubs, Local Artists, Nepal Police, and other local CSOs. They consulted with these local partners and involved them in the small grants’ activities.

 

Young people engaged in workshop – 27th April 2022

The small grant project allowed young people to gain initiative and leadership skills along with opportunities for co-creation, collaboration, and project planning.

The Small Grant project – supported by MAP – fostered a bottom-up approach in the creation of research and development agendas, thus, allowing young people to move beyond the role of beneficiaries into active creators.

We invite other researchers to give young people an active role in deciding the most pressing issues for research, and to give them a voice in the decision-making process.

How Does It All End?

How Does It All End?

Author: Harla Octarra

Edition: Camilo Soler Caicedo

 

Stigma is adding to the pain of victims of sexual violence, particularly adolescent girls in urban poor communities of East Jakarta. The stigma tends to overlook the disabling environment causing the girls to be at risk of sexual violence. MAP young researchers created a short film to address the problem. The film will be a research tool to create dialogue with community members about stigma and the causes of sexual violence.

The young researchers led all the stages of filmmaking together, had their say about different pros and cons in the contents of the script, and debated different technical choices. Before creating the film, they sent out questionnaires to community members and interviewed adolescent survivors of sexual violence in order to create the script. They consulted Kalamtara, MAP partner filmmakers, from writing down a synopsis, to the cast rehearsal, filming and editing. In particular, the technicalities of filming were also assisted by young people of Jakaringan Cinema, a film-based advocacy youth groups based in East Jakarta.

In back-to-back discussions between Kalamtara filmmakers and young researchers, the researchers learned about what films should be and how to plan each production stage. Meanwhile, the filmmakers learned how to guide young people to create films they were passionate about. This process ultimately led to a discussion on how the film should end. In the young researchers’ view, the film should have no ending because they wanted to use the film in dialogues with community members to help find solutions. For the filmmakers, the film should at least show the main character is challenging the status quo or trying to get out of the violent situation.

The ongoing nature of the collaboration between young researchers and filmmakers constitutes a great example of what we consider a participatory arts-based approach.

You can find the final film in Indonesia’s Artistic Outputs page.

 

 

Training of Young Changemakers in Kyrgyzstan

Training of Young Changemakers in Kyrgyzstan

Authors: Anara Eginalieva, Tajyka Shabdanova, Helena-Ulrike Marambio

 

‘I will no longer believe in the word “impossible”, [instead] I will act’ stated one young participant after the attending a five-day ‘Training the Trainers’ (TOT) workshop organised by the Kyrgyz non-profit organisation and MAP partner Foundation for Tolerance International (FTI). FTI ran a series of five-day TOTs with young people and educators across the country. The blended face-to-face and online workshop sessions were organised in partnership with 16 schools in Batken, Osh, and Jalal-Abad provinces (oblasts), and the new migrant settlements around the capital city of Bishkek. The MAP partnerships enabled FTI to train over 140 schoolchildren between 14 and 18 years, and 8 teachers between November 2020 and March 2021.

Participants from new migrant settlements (Bishkek)

 

The training aimed: a) to enhance critical thinking introduce young people to research methods; b) to explore creative and artistic tools; and c) to increase young people’s self-confidence and self-esteem in order to engage with diverse audiences. By including educators as trainees (and eventual trainers), FTI aimed to raise awareness about creative methods to facilitate two-way, intergenerational communication between young people and adults.

 

Critical thinking 

Creative exercises like the ‘Conflict Tree’ helped young people to identify the root causes of problems and their consequences. Young people shared personal and community-based issues such as the theme ‘family conflicts’ and its effect on their motivation to study. In addition to this, participants identified issues such as the precarious situation of young people whose parents migrated to other countries for work and the influence of social media on people’s time and self-perception. After a first round of brainstorming, each group was asked to pick a specific problem and to analyse its root causes and consequences in depth. The results were presented to the whole group as a means to develop the young people’s confidence in public speaking and to extend peer-to-peer and community-based problem-solving.

Following the conflict analysis via ‘Conflict Tree’, FTI carried out a mapping exercise that signposted young people to relevant organisations, local authorities, and individuals who could help to address the identified problems. During the activity, one young participant stated: ‘I did not think about our problems before. Now, I want teachers, the mayor, and the police to know our problems.’ Another young person from Jalal-Abad stated: ‘This [training] pushed me to think about various problems in our village; now I look at the problem from different perspectives.’

 

Young researchers: ‘It’s about unravelling something’

FTI created 16 MAP Young Researcher Clubs to train the youth research participants in critical thinking and research methods. During the first activity, young researchers explored the meaning of ‘research’, its purpose, and research approaches. To prompt the conversation, FTI asked participants to think about the beneficiaries of their study and how they could use the findings. Young participants commented: ‘It’s about unravelling something’; ‘It’s an analysis’; and ‘It’s to investigate the problems [and] to solve them correctly.’ Moreover, young people considered the purpose and advantage of ‘collaborative action research.’ They recognised the value of a research team – its strength based on the members’ varying skills and talents – and its efficiency resulting from the possibility to distribute tasks, to consider varying viewpoints, and to share responsibilities. Moreover, they examined the characteristics of a researcher through the exercise ‘Super Explorer’ that asked participants to compile a list of required skills, abilities, and tools of a good researcher. Based on discussions, young people were able to list several skills (e.g. good observer, clear writing), abilities (e.g. patient, tolerant, flexible), and tools (e.g. pen, paper, recorder, documents). They also reflected on their weaknesses, like lack of punctuality and patience.

Conflict analysis (Batken)

In the training, FTI focused on conflict analysis and the active participation of young people in decision-making at a community level. To this end, as part of the first exercise, participants had to sort a set of cards in chronological order that featured six research stages and tasks (research topic; target research participants; research methods supporting data collection and analysis; and ways to disseminate the findings). Next, participants were divided into groups. Each group had to decide upon a problem and explain the steps and measures they would take to design a research proposal to examine the youth-based issue. The ‘problem’ had to meet three criteria: 1) it needed to have an impact on a great number of people, 2) it had to influence the development of young people and, 3) it had to be resolvable at the local level. In Jalal-Abad and Osh oblast, participants chose to present a study on the lack of interest in education by youth. The proposed research question sought to examine the reasons for their disinterest. In Jalal-Abad, participants aimed to collect data through surveys with students of grades 9 to 11 and count the responses. Furthermore, they proposed to present their findings through video clips and forum theatre. Young people from Osh took a slightly different approach – they surveyed teachers, students, and parents, and presented their findings through drawings and video clips. At this point of the training, both adults and young people were struggling with the final step – the dissemination of findings.

‘You feel that you are treated like an adult’

Overall, the exercise sought to place young people in the position of decision-making: what type of problem would they pick and how would they tackle it? How would they discuss and take decisions? By the end of the TOT, an adult research participant from Osh (educator) observed a change in the attitude and behaviour of participants during the TOT as well as an increased level of tolerance and respect for the opinions of other students in class. This observation was made by other adult participants who noticed a general change in the attitude and behaviour of schoolchildren after the training in both ways – among their peers and with educators. One youth participant noted: ‘In [this] project I really like the fact that you can speak openly about the problems that bother you. You feel that you are treated like an adult, a full-fledged person, they [MAP team and educators] give you the opportunity to convey your opinion to others.’

To deepen participants’ analytical skills, FTI carried out two activities that focused on the cause and consequences of a problem as well as affected persons and other stakeholders. Young people from Chui (a new settlement around the capital of Bishkek), talked about the absence of a psychologist at school due to a lack of state funding. Another obstacle identified was the lack of awareness of the role and relevance of a psychologist by teachers and parents. The overall lack of awareness and knowledge were determined as reasons that led to a rising trend of suicides among young people and youth, intergenerational conflicts between children and parents, teachers and pupils, as well as growing cases of mental health conditions in the community. To interrogate and visualise young people’s concerns, groups were asked to develop a ‘Conflict Tree’ to be presented to the group. The day closed with a mapping of the target groups who are directly affected by the problem, immediate stakeholders (other individuals who are also impacted by the situation) and indirect stakeholders (individuals or institutions that seek to address an issue). The last activity was challenging for many participants who were not familiar with governmental structures and other existing organisations. However, they were able to point to several affected groups, such as young people, parents, teachers, youth committees, NGOs and community leaders and community activists. Whilst reflecting, FTI considered the necessary step to introduce and clarify the term ‘decision-maker’, his/ her tasks, and ways to interact with the corresponding individual.

 

Arts-based Methods

FTI introduced arts-based methods including forum theatre and film making, among others, to enable young people to communicate their problems and potential solutions. To begin the discussion on arts-based communication, FTI asked young people to reflect on ‘communication’, its meaning and what it takes to create a meaningful conversation and to transmit a powerful message. Some participants stressed the usefulness of drawings to convey a message. One participant recognised the value of traditional Kyrgyz art to bring people together: ‘Art unites us. If we look at the works of Chinghiz Aitmatov [Kyrgyz novelist], they unite us.’ By choosing different arts-based forms, FTI equipped the trainees with additional tools to reach out to various social groups from local (e.g. peer, parents, teachers), regional (e.g. Mayor’s Office) to national levels (e.g. Ministry of Education) – either online through social media or face-to-face.

Forum theatre (Batken)

At first, FTI introduced ‘forum theatre’, its methodology, the roles, and rules (i.e. the interaction between the actor(s) and the audience facilitated by a Joker). Then, FTI encouraged participants to think about different situations in their communities and to share moments in which a person tried to do something but was faced with various obstacles. In the next step, young people had to select a story that set the baseline for two scripts and productions. In Batken, participants opted for alcohol abuse by a family father and the negative impact of early marriage on a female young person. Most people, both male and female, stressed that girls and women are always blamed for existing problems in daily life. In turn, participants took up different roles in the forum theatre performance – this way, they got the opportunity to familiarise themselves with this tool from different perspectives. Furthermore, they discussed the ability of forum theatre to visualise and transmit their research findings and engage in a dialogue with the audience to find joint solutions for identified problems.

Subsequently, FTI used video and different social media channels to share young people’s concerns and research findings. It further explored the link between video clips, social media, and social activism. As one young participant noted: ‘Social networks are a platform to exchange information with your eyes.’ Moreover, FTI showed participants how to develop video scripts, filming (e.g. angles) and editing before asking each group to develop their video clips. These clips were quite diverse and ranged from patriarchal structures, environmental pollution to corruption and problems to access education.

‘There are no languages in art, there are no barriers to understand each other.’

Video clip production (Osh)

Throughout the sessions, young people considered the usefulness and feasibility of each tool for specific issues of concern. One participant stated: ‘There are no languages in art, there are no barriers to understand each other. I believe that with the help of art, we [can] raise important problems of young people and bring them to our deputies and ministers.’  Another young person reflected on the presence of art in daily life and its potential for conflict prevention: ‘If we get a little closer to the arts, people would not have time for conflicts. I have never thought about the role of art in our life before; it turns out it surrounds us everywhere!’ Participants – schoolchildren and educators – echoed the potential of the arts to communicate issues of concern and address them through creative dialogue. In an interview after the training, one educator shared her plans to use forum theatre and video in parent-teacher meetings to raise awareness about the impact of parental conflicts on children.

In feedback sheets, participants expressed the impact the training had on their personal perceptions of arts-based research.  One participant from Chui wrote: ‘Before I [did not think that I could] be a director, actress, [and] editor – now I am sure that I can!’ Another person stated: ‘For forum theatre and the filming of video stories, [it is] necessary [to be] skill[ed] in teamwork, balancing [opinions], good thinking, strong energy, [and] creative search.’

 

Self-esteem and self-confidence

Energizer (Batken)

Throughout the training, FTI collected various statements by young people who continuously expressed their change of mind and personal development. Several of them mentioned feelings of shyness, insecurity to express their opinion, and perceived lack of talents at the start of the training. This changed dramatically and ranged from feelings of comfort to speak in front of a group, the ability and freedom to share one’s thoughts (‘listen and be listened to’), the feeling of being taken seriously as an adult, and the skillset to identify and address a problem. The gained confidence and developed skillset to express oneself supported the group dynamics in class – some young people who were struggling with learning and socialising were able to communicate better with educators and peers, and developed a renewed interest in education. Overall, young people become more mindful and proactive in addressing issues for conflict prevention. At the end of the five days, one participant concluded: ‘Even if I cannot solve the problems of the [whole] village, I can freely express my thoughts now.’

 

 

We would like to thank FTI’s staff members Shakhsanam AkmatalievaNurgul Sultanova, Cholpon Kylzhyrova, and Bakhram Rakhmankulov for their invaluable insights.

Office of Special Representatives – Children As Agents of Positive Change

Office of Special Representatives – Children As Agents of Positive Change

Mobile Arts for Peace is a hub for resources and toolkits relating to arts-led peacebuilding initiatives. MAP’s website features recommendations for practitioners and researchers. The contents are the sole responsibility of the UN

This report was issued by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children. 

 

Nepal MAP

Children as Agents of Positive Change

Dialogue for Peace: Arts-Based Approaches and the Growth of MAP Dialogue Clubs in Rwanda

Dialogue for Peace: Arts-Based Approaches and the Growth of MAP Dialogue Clubs in Rwanda

Authors: Eric Ndushabandi, Victor Ntezirembo, and Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo.

Edited by Helena-Ulrike Marambio

Arts-based approaches to fostering dialogue have been increasingly used in peacebuilding efforts to advance reconciliation and healing in countries emerging from conflict. In Rwanda, Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) has promoted the inclusion and active participation of youth in national peace programmes since 2018. To this end, MAP has adopted different arts-based methods that facilitate two-way communications between youth and local stakeholders on the one hand, and youth and policymakers on the other. This blog looks at how this has developed and how MAP is currently growing its dialogue clubs in the country.

Dialogue

In peacebuilding practices, dialogue is a long-term process that seeks to resolve, to transform, and to prevent underlying tensions and violence caused by complex layers of conflict between two or more parties (Bohm 1996; Bourquin 2003). It can be applied to address both intra- and intergroup disputes (Feller and Ryan 2012; Sternberg 2018). According to the Cambridge Dictionary (2021), ‘dialogue’ refers to ‘a serious exchange of opinion, especially among people or groups that disagree.’ Over the past decades, peacebuilding practitioners have focused on the use of dialogue to reconcile communities in different post-conflict settings (Aarbakke 2002; Dessel and Rogge 2008; Zartman 2008; Stearns 2018; Komlossyová 2019; GPPAC 2019).

Dialogue focuses on establishing trust, sharing personal experiences, and building skills in active listening. It allows individuals to discuss the past events that continue to live in people’s minds and bodies. These moments of personal storytelling can support the process of individual and group healing, reconciliation, and trust-building among former parties in conflict. In the course of time, dialogue alongside conflict analysis can provide knowledge and understanding regarding the root causes to conflict (Musafiri 2013; Wallace et al. 2014; Davis et al. 2019; IRDPa 2020). Exchanges within the group can contribute to awareness of existing prejudices and stereotypes to rectify misinformation or to deepen the understanding about other individuals or groups (Komlossyová 2019; IRDPb 2020). Through dialogue, groups might also come to agreement concerning how to communicate to each other and to mediate future problems (Arai 2015). To succeed, dialogic activities are usually tailored to the cultural background of the target community (Bourquin 2003). Arts-based methods for dialogue range from locally grounded interactive theatre plays, songs, dance to wall paintings (Mitchell et al. 2020). However, while dialogue can be quite constructive, it is not an easy art. 

 

Community Dialogue in Rwanda

 

In Rwanda, dialogue has been applied for more than 20 years to reconcile and to unify the country after the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 (Bagilishya 2000; Brown 2008; Clark 2014; UNESCO 2019). That traumatic event left deep wounds that are still felt within society. Everyday peace demands efforts from all parties – victims often live side-by-side with their perpetrators who may be a family member or neighbour. Many people – survivors and perpetrators – also suffer from symptoms related to post traumatic stress disorder (Munyandamutsa 2012; Specia 2017). Several individuals struggle with mental health and/or a disability (Petroze et al. 2015) that affects the entire family, including children and youth (Rugema et al. 2015).

Under such circumstances, healing, reconciliation, and trust-building are difficult to achieve. Moreover, building a nation for all Rwandans requires an equal participation of all groups of society, particularly children and youth who are growing up in the aftermath of genocide (Pells 2009a; 2009b). However, it is them – the next generation – who are often not treated as equal members within the decision-making process.

Despite their marginalization, it is notable that children and youth have increasingly taken up leading roles in conflict transformation and prevention through in- and out-of-school clubs. Equipped with the necessary skills and tools, children and youth have proven their ability to positively influence peaceful conflict mediation and co-existence at school, within their families and the wider community (International Alert 2019; IRDPb 2020). The creation and functioning of dialogue clubs have been supported by national and international organisations that have seen the key role the next generation could play in bringing sustained peace to Rwanda (e.g. Aegis Trust et al. 2017; Benda 2017; International Alert 2019).

IRDP’s Dialogue Clubs

 

Since its foundation in 2001, the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Kigali, Rwanda, has established dialogue clubs throughout the country to promote reconciliation, social cohesion, and conflict prevention on a local level. People get the opportunity to reflect about Rwanda’s future, particularly regarding co-existence and the use of their dialogue club to inform policymakers. Moreover, these clubs offer a space for youth and adults to come together to advance intergenerational dialogue (UNESCO 2019; Karuna et al. 2019; IRDPa 2020).

 

 

IRDP’s dialogue club meetings happen at least two times each month. The clubs are usually composed of up to 30 members of varying ages who were affected differently by genocidal violence, or who took different stances towards it. Hence, club participants might include female and male survivors, returnees, youth (descendants of survivors, orphans, and those born out of rape), bystanders, and perpetrators. Most of the time, these clubs emerged upon the expression of interest by community members themselves. According to IRDP’s staff observations, it is the pro-active, self-initiating communities that have been more open to engaging with distinct arts-based dialogue approaches.

The dialogue exercises in the clubs are facilitated by community members who took part in the IRDP’s training on open dialogue and observation techniques. In this training they also learn ways to give feedback to individuals who have finished an exercise, as well as skills and tools on how to create appropriate conditions for sensitive topics (i.e. safe space, respectful language, comfortableness). During the initial phase of each dialogue club in the villages, IRDP staff applied a participatory action research approach to identifying suitable local trainers based on their performance in awareness sessions on dialogue and related activities. By selecting and training local people, the IRDP sought to build sustainable structures for dialogue clubs and to transmit knowledge and skills to more remote areas in the country.

To date, IRDP clubs have developed into well-established hubs for dialogue that bridge the communication gap between the grassroots and the regional and national levels through continuous meetings during the year. In these encounters, community leaders take the opportunity to address issues of concern that require regional and/or national support. Additionally, the National Listening Session provides the possibility for community leaders, civil society organisations, and policymakers to discuss ongoing measures for peacebuilding, look at potential challenges for their implementation and for attaining a sustainable peace, and exchange stories of success and lessons learned.

 

The Emergence of MAP Clubs

 

IRDP’s experiences with dialogue in Rwandan communities, the incorporation of youth, the use of participatory action research, as well as the integration of arts-based approaches have led to a partnership with MAP in 2018. As part of its main objectives, MAP has sought to grow youth-participation in peacebuilding initiatives, and to introduce diverse arts-based practices as a tool for conflict transformation and prevention. To achieve the first objective, in 2019, MAP and the IRDP decided to accelerate the involvement of children and youth by setting up 25 MAP clubs in collaboration with 25 Rwandan schools in five districts (Huye, Gicumbi, Rubavu, Kicukiro, and Rwamagana). This initiative was part of the AHRC Follow-On Impact project entitled Ubwuzu: Shaping the Rwandan National Curriculum through Arts led by Principal Investigator (PI) Ananda Breed.

The ‘MAP Clubs’ evolved from a series of workshops with schoolchildren, teachers, and local artists that promoted youth-led and participatory arts-based methods for peacebuilding (Breed et al. 2018; Breed 2019). During the sessions, pupils and educators engaged with a combination of local and regional art forms (e.g. bleach painting, Umuduri music, traditional songs, dance) and MAP’s methodologies (participatory art exercises and games) to enhance the development of youth leadership. The sessions also invited participants to reflect about creative two-way communication channels between schoolchildren and teachers but also between youth and adults in general. Other methods, like storytelling and plays grounded in Augusto Boal’s ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ (1974) provided a space for participants to share challenges and to consider solutions through conflict analysis. To assure the sustainability of MAP Clubs, MAP also offered training for youth facilitators and educators (‘MAP master trainers’) on dialogue and peacebuilding carried out by and for children and youth. These trainings created awareness about a diverse range of arts-based methods, including mobile filmmaking – introduced by the renowned Rwandan filmmaker Eric Kabera – and audio recording of poems on mobile phones. The series of trainings and workshops in 2019 ended with the organisation of MAP youth camps to promote creative discussions through the use of interactive drama and storytelling. Some of the issues identified became the basis for policy briefs drafted by youth that were then delivered to representatives of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), UNESCO, and the Rwanda Education Board (REB) during a stakeholder event focusing on Arts-based Methods and Digital Technology for Peacebuilding during the time of COVID (August 2020).

 

Arts-Based Training for Growth

 

In 2020, as part of the MAP Network Plus project, Co-Investigator Dr Eric Ndushabandi (Executive Director, IRDP) and Victor Ntezirembo (Project Coordinator, IRDP) have focused on the geographic expansion by linking the 25 MAP clubs and participating schools with IRDP’s dialogue clubs that were created in each of the five districts. The purpose of expanding MAP to link with the dialogue clubs was to extend MAP from in-school clubs to the community. To this end, a five-day training was conducted at IRDP from 25 to 30 October 2020 in Kigali for 25 club members from five districts (Gicumbi, Rubavu, Kirehe, Gisagara, Bugesera). These sessions were facilitated by six local MAP master trainers (originally trained by MAP’s PI Ananda Breed in 2017) and two psychosocial workers.

The training sought to familiarize trainees with MAP participatory arts methods and IRDP community dialogue methods to enhance dialogue, conflict analysis and problem solving with a focus on arts-based methods. Participants were introduced to interactive theatre techniques including Playback Theatre, Image Theatre, and Forum Theatre. Participatory exercises helped participants to express themselves through body language (Playback Theatre), to create powerful frozen scenes (Image Theatre), and to develop skills for improvisation on stage through unscripted plays (Forum Theatre).

During the sessions, youth discussed the feasibility of employing each of these forms to address particular matters of concern for community members. They also explored the potential for each form to create meaningful debates that support the process of finding solutions to maintain peaceful coexistence by identifying everyday problems. Moreover, participants reflected on their roles as facilitators and the resulting possibilities for youth to lead specific debates within their communities.

The sessions were highly interactive and practice-orientated and focused on youth and the development of their skills as central to the MAP methodology and training process. Youth were taught applicable tools to advance critical thinking in terms of conflict analysis and transformation, using exercises such as the Obstacle Tree that allows for participants to identify a problem, its root causes, and possible solutions. Throughout the course of the training, the participants gained self-esteem and self-confidence to present themselves as well as to speak to a wider audience. One youth trainer stated: ‘Before [the training] I was not skilled; I was not able to analyse a conflict or a problem. Now I am different. I am able to think about a problem and analyse it, and try to find a solution. And I can help others. Now I have the confidence. Now I can talk to a small group and large group. Now I am very confident.’

 

The Power of Storytelling

 

The training concluded with a session on the power of sharing personal stories within a group. The story circle was facilitated by a psychosocial worker who explained the healing effect of sharing that enables a person to receive support from others (either emotionally or physically) who are facing or have overcome a similar situation. Several participants expressed their feelings and concerns about family conflicts, the prevailing impact of the genocide, and poverty. For some of them, it was the first time that they had shared their story. Deep listening and the inclusion of psychosocial workers in trainings and activities is another element of the MAP methodology.

The training of MAP youth club-facilitators created a space for creativity, learning, sharing and healing. Furthermore, it offered a space for connection during the lockdown. Most participants noted their negative thoughts or feelings of uncertainty before their arrival and recognised a change of their mood over the training days. Discussions on the value of dialogic forms of performance in relation to community concerns and the practical exercises and guidance motivated the new MAP youth trainers to apply the acquired tools and skills in their communities. MAP is currently monitoring the progress.

Working towards sustainable peace requires the active and equal participation of all groups in society. The promotion of arts-based methods for dialogue to enhance two-way communications between youth and adults, especially adults who are policymakers, is a critical step in this direction. Over the next months, MAP will analyse its findings on the evolution of MAP dialogue clubs in different schools and communities. Keep following us to find out more about our work in Rwanda.

 

References

 

Vemind, A. (2002). Mutual learning – Facilitating dialogue in former Yugoslavia. Oslo: PRIO.

Aegis Trust, the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Radio La Benevolencija (RLB) and USC Shoah Foundation – the Institute for Visual History and Education (2009). Stories of Peace. Rwanda Peace Education Programme. Towards Sustainable Peace.

Arai, T. (2015). Engaging conflict history: Toward an integrated method of conflict resolution dialogue and capacity building. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 32(2), pp. 277–298.

Bagilishya, D. (2000). Mourning and Recovery from Trauma: In Rwanda, Tears Flow Within. Transcultural Psychiatry 37(3), pp. 337-354.

Benda, R. M. (2017). Youth Connect Dialogue: Unwanted Legacies, Responsibility and Nation-building in Rwanda. Aegis Trust. Genocide Research Hub, Working Paper 001.

Breed, A., Azeda, H. and Dennison, K. (2018). ‘Mobile Arts for Peace – Rwanda’. 12 March. Available at: https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk/2018/03/12/mobile-arts-for-peace-rwanda/

Breed, A. (2020). Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP). Youth and participatory arts in Rwanda. In: Cooke, P. and Soria-Donlan, I. (eds.), Participatory Arts in International Development. Abingdon/ New York: Routledge, pp. 124-142.

Boal, A. (1979). Theatre of the Oppressed. London: Pluto Press.

Bohm, D. (1996). On dialogue. New York: Routledge.

Bourquin, J-F. (2003) Violence, conflict and intercultural dialogue. Council of Europe Publishing

Clark, P. (2014). Negotiating Reconciliation in Rwanda: Popular Challenges to the Official Discourse of Post-Genocide National Unity. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 8(4), pp. 303-320.

Davis, A., Nsengiyumva, C., Hyslop, D. (2019). Healing Trauma and Building Trust and Tolerance in Rwanda. Interpeace Peacebuilding in Practice Paper No 4. Available at https://www.interpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Trauma-Trust-Tolerance-and-Peace-activism-Web1.pdf.

Dessel, A. and Rogge, M. E. (2008). Evaluation of Intergroup Dialogue: A Review of the Empirical Literature. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 26(2), pp. 199-238.

Cambridge Dictionary (2021). Available at https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/dialogue.

Dukeshima Emerence, Gicumbi District, 30 October 2020.

Feller, A. E. and Ryan, K. K. (2012). Definition, necessity, and Nansen: Efficacy of dialogue in peacebuilding. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 29(4), pp. 351-380

GPPAC (2019). ‘Promoting Dialogue with Youth for Peace in Kyrgyzstan’. Available at https://www.gppac.net/news/promoting-dialogue-youth-peace-kyrgyzstan-0.

IRDP (2020a). ‘Dialogue Clubs success stories’. Available at: https://www.irdp.rw/dialogue-clubs/.

IRDP (2020b). ‘School of debates’. Available at: https://www.irdp.rw/school-of-debates/.

International Alert (2019). ‘“Labels create divisions and jealousy”: Cecil’s story’. Available at: https://www.international-alert.org/stories/labels-create-divisions-and-jealousy-cecils-story.

Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, Aegis Trust, HROC and IRDP (2019). Healing Our Communities: Promoting Social Cohesion in Rwanda. USAID #AID-696-F-16-00002. Final Report. Available at https://www.karunacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Healing-Our-Communities-Final-Report.pdf.

King, R. U. (2014). Key factors that facilitate intergroup dialogue and psychosocial healing in Rwanda: A qualitative study. Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas 12(3), pp. 416–429.

Komlossyová, E. S. (2019). Moving beyond personal change: Using dialogue in ethnically divided communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 37(1), pp. 33-47.

Mitchell, J., Vincett, G., Hawksley, T., Culbertson, H. (2020). Peacebuilding and the Arts. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Musafiri, E. (2013). Introduction. Peace and Conflict Management Review 2(2), pp. 5-11.

Munyandamutsa, N., Nkubamugisha, P. M., Gex-Fabry, M. and Eytan, A. (2012). Mental and physical health in Rwanda 14 years after the genocide. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 47, pp. 1753–1761.

Pells, K. (2009a). We’ve Got Used to the Genocide; It’s Daily Life That’s the Problem. Peace Review 21(3), pp. 339-346.

Pells, K. (2009b), “No one ever listens to us”:  Challenging the obstacles to participation of children and young people in Rwanda. In: Percy-Smith, B., Thomas, N. K., O’Kane, C., Twum-Danso Imoh, A., A Handbook of Children and Young People’s Participation Perspectives from Theory and Practice. Abingdon/ New York: Routledge, pp. 196-203.

Petroze, R. T., Joharifard, S., Groen, R. S., Niyonkuru, F., Ntaganda, E., Kushner, A. L., Guterbock, T. M., Kyamanywa, P., Calland J. F. (2015). Injury, Disability and Access to Care in Rwanda: Results of a Nationwide Cross-Sectional Population Study. World Journal of Surgery 39, pp. 62–69.

Stearns, P. N. (2018). Peacebuilding Through Dialogue. Education, Human Transformation, and Conflict Resolution. Fairfax, Virginia: George Mason University Press.

Specia, M. (2017). ‘How a Nation Reconciles After Genocide Killed Nearly a Million People’, New York Times, 25 April. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/world/africa/rwandans-carry-on-side-by-side-two-decades-after-genocide.html

Rugema, L., Mogren, I., Ntaganira, J., Krantz, G. (2015). Traumatic episodes and mental health effects in young men and women in Rwanda, 17 years after the genocide. BMJ Open, pp. 1-11.

UNESCO (2019). ‘Dialogue clubs to support reconciliation and build social cohesion in Rwanda’ 5 April. Available at: https://en.unesco.org/interculturaldialogue/blog/551.

Wallace, D. A., Pasick, P., Berman, Z., and Weber, E. (2014) Stories for Hope–Rwanda: a psychological–archival collaboration to promote healing and cultural continuity through intergenerational dialogue. Archival Science 14, pp. 275–306.

Zartman, J. (2008). Negotiation, Exclusion and Durable Peace: Dialogue and Peacebuilding in Tajikistan. International Negotiation 13(1), pp. 55-72.

 

Cultural Artist Network

Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.

Our Supporters

 

MAP is made possible thanks to the support and funding of the following partners

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MAP at the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival

MAP at the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival

Hosted from the 25th-20th November 2020, the Eighth Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival (HRIFF) celebrated the films and filmmakers that spotlight human rights causes and change people’s lives across the world.

The Human Rights Film Center, a MAP partner in Nepal, has organised the HRIFF each year since 2010. Due to COVID-19, this is the first year in which the HRIFF has been hosted online. In 2020, the HRIFF shortlisted 52 films from 29 different countries for this year’s festival. Selected films spanned various formats and topics, from documentary shorts to animations and full-length features about mental health, war, migration, and child soldiers, to list a few topics. In 2020, HRIFF streamed to 100,000 people worldwide, with viewers in countries including the UK, France, Cambodia, and Nepal.

Mobile Arts for Peace was co-partner on the film festival, alongside other supporters, including the European Union, International Organization for Migration, and the Association of Youth Organizations in Nepal.

 

Highlights of the HRIFF include:

Mobile Arts for Peace documentary (dir. Deus Kwizera, Kwetu Film Institute, Kigali Rwanda).

The HRIFF was the first international premiere of the MAP documentary which focused on MAP’s Ubwuzu project (2019-2020) and documented MAP’s effort to use the MAP methodology to inform Rwanda’s Curriculum Framework and provide arts-based training for educators and young people in each province in Rwanda.

Chitrapuri Nagar (dir. Rajeela Shrestha, Nepal)

In Nepal, a historical route trod for centuries by legions of travellers was suddenly abandoned after the construction of the Tribhuvan Highway. This film focuses on the ancient village at the site, Chitrapuri Nagar, which remains of great socio-cultural importance.

Soundless Dance (dir, Pradeepan Raveendran, France).

In the spring of 2009, Sri Lanka’s decade’s long civil war is entering its most violent phase. Siva, a young Sri Lankan refugee living illegally in France, has lost  contact with the family he was forced to leave behind. Haunted by the trauma of the war that devastated his childhood and obsessed by the flow of images on the Internet, Siva sinks into a waking dream that propels him into the heart of the battlefield.

Can Art Stop Bullet: William Kelly’s Big Picture (dir. Mark Street, Australia)

Can Art temper violence when politics and reason fails? Can art stop bullets? Through the voices of some of the world’s most socially engaged artists and thinkers, William Kelly explores the role of art in achieving change in times of crisis.

 

Read the full programme for full details of the HRIFF programme

Nepal MAP

Report from Nepal International Human Rights Film Festival

Cultural Artist Network

Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.

Our Supporters

 

MAP is made possible thanks to the support and funding of the following partners

Can the Local Arts be Used to Promote Learner Centred Approach and Critical Peace Education for Gender Equality in Japan?

Can the Local Arts be Used to Promote Learner Centred Approach and Critical Peace Education for Gender Equality in Japan?

Can the Local Arts be Used to Promote Learner Centred Approach and Critical Peace Education for Gender Equality in Japan?

By Anna Hata

Why is it important to adapt ‘Mobile Arts for Peace’ in education in Japan?

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP), led by Professor Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln, has contributed to helping students and teachers exercise a learner-centred approach; using local art forms in a manner that addresses problems in their communities in Rwanda and other post-conflict nations. I participated in the 3-day workshop hosted by MAP from 5-7 August 2020. Through the workshop, I realised the importance of the youth-led social change, and the power of art to create safe spaces where young people can discuss sensitive issues. The workshop made me reflect on challenges in Japan in addressing social problems such as discriminations by gender. I believe that the MAP approach can be adapted to the Japanese context as well, enabling young people to engage the social issue that has persisted for a long term in Japan; gender inequality.

Gender inequality remains a prominent social issue in Japan. Japan ranks 121st among 153 countries in the latest global gender gap index 2020 published by the World Economic Forum. In comparison, many Western countries, including the UK, ranks in the top 30 countries worldwide, and Rwanda ranking 9th globally and 1st in Sub-Saharan Africa, with women accounting for 61% of parliament. In Japan, gender inequality is especially serious in political and economic domains, with only 10% and 5.3% of women in parliament and ministerial positions, respectively. Japan’s low rate of gender equity is noteworthy, and it implies that economic development does not necessarily correlate with human rights movement. It makes us question what is meant by ‘development’, and whether education is contributing to positive change or to reproduce the status quo in Japanese context.

 

Gender inequality in Japan can be partly attributed to predominance of traditional gender roles that requires men to work in public sphere (politics, decision making/management positions in labour market) and women in private (home). These gender roles were strengthened in the post-war period, after 1945. The rebuilding of the economy after World War Two (WW2) demanded the selfless efforts of the older generations devoting their lives to the company and society. The employment system after the war required men to prioritise their work over their private lives, and the system could function by making women quit their jobs after they get married to become housewives and take a role in child-rearing.

75 years have passed since the end of WW2 and young people have less opportunities participate in conversations on the past nor the root of the gender issues they face, with the older people who remember what happened. History education appears to have been caught in a dilemma between accountability and the reinforcement of collective historical narratives according to the values of the dominant male tradition. However, alternative historical perspectives by gender seem to be often omitted in the classroom.

The situation of gender inequality is gradually improving compared to the past, but discrimination against women, in the labor market for example, still seems to be acceptable, having caused little controversy. In educational terms, it is important to understand what kind of educational inequality exists and how it is related to economic inequalities. Education can be used as a tool to reproduce gender roles. In fact, a medical school deliberately failed women applicants at entrance exams for almost a decade until 2018, because ‘women leave their jobs at high rates’. This logic is legitimised in male-oriented culture in labour markets. Hence, educational inequality can lead to limited opportunities for women to achieve what they value.

It is important to question why these gender issues continue to remain in the long term. One factor would be the strong social norm that, ‘individualization should not be taken to the extreme’ to maintain ‘a balance between the individual wishes of a single person and the general demands of society as imperative’ (Chiavacci, 2005, p.122). The norm to follow the social order may work effectively to control public discourse, but it can also bring negative effects at the individual level and within settings such as family, school and the working environment. It implicitly forces people, especially women, children and other vulnerable social groups, not to openly criticise the injustices imposed by those in power through a patriarchal social system.

How can local arts be used to promote learner centred approach in education for gender equality?

In this context, the role of education to address social issues needs to be emphasised. Peace education would require wider conceptualisation to include both ‘negative peace’ and ‘positive peace’ (Galtung,1969). Negative peace is defined as the absence of direct violence, such as war, sexual abuse and domestic violence. On the other hand, positive peace is defined as absence of indirect violence, such as structural and cultural violence, including sexism and culturally condoned exclusion of disadvantaged social groups. Drawing on the concept of positive peace, critical peace education pays attention to unequal social relations and the potential for educational spaces to bring about individual and collective transformation. It also pays close attention to local context and knowledge generated by communities. Thus, learner-centred approach is important to encourage students to voice their views to create a new insight through dialogue.

In the Japanese context, critical peace education is important but may not be easy for students and teachers to practice. This is because it may take effort to create a space that empowers students to voice their opinions freely and critically discuss gender issues in a classroom where these discussions hardly occur. Moreover, the humbling of the teacher, expected in learner-centred approach, can contradict the traditional power relationship between teacher and student in Japan. This is why the MAP’s approach can facilitate implementation of critical peace education.

The strength of MAP is in using different art forms to enable both students and teachers to feel comfortable to talk about sensitive issues. As one of the cultural art forms in Japan, animation can become a tool to encourage both children and youth easily understand social issues and changes across time. Animation movies have become culture icons in Japan especially since Hayao Miyazaki, an Oscar-winning filmmaker, founded his company, Studio Ghibli, in 1985. As a child, he had to flee his home amid the firebombing during WW2 and witnessed rapid modernisation in post-war Japan. These experiences would have influenced his works, of which feature serious themes such as war, environmental issues, identity, and often tell stories of young girls’ growth in the face of adversity, instead of creating a typical fantasy. He believes that ‘children’s souls are the inheritors of historical memory from previous generations’, and many of his works remain the most popular children’s movies of all time in Japan. These films have been a part of childhood memories for many Japanese young people, and people often rewatch them with their children because they can also find meaning in them. Thus, animated movies have partly been used to deliver important messages across generations in Japan, and now different artists are also creating artworks for children based on their experiences of WW2.

In this context, animated films can be used to create a dialogue on gender issues between students and teachers at the school level. For example, In This Corner of the World (2016), a crowdfunded Japanese animated film that successfully attracted young people in Japan and won numerous awards globally, depicted a girl’s daily experience in Hiroshima in the midst of WW2. What makes this film distinct from the previous Japanese war animation films, is that it pays greater attention to the lived experiences of those trying to find normalcy amidst the changing social upheaval. This story is based on thorough research including interviews with survivors, to cultivate the audience’s imagination. It would be useful for students not only to understand what ordinary people experienced around the time of the war, but also to further discuss gender issues found in the story and the kinds of legacy that continues to exist today. Using these art forms, teachers can encourage students to discuss; what are the historical roots of gender inequality in Japan, who benefits from it, and what power relations and discourses (in the media, textbooks etc.) contribute to construct the gender inequality at family, school, community and national level. Students can then discuss what types of participation are possible and meaningful, and how they can act to bring a positive change in the society they live in.

As such, using local arts in education may be able to help students and teachers practice a learner-centred approach and critical peace education to deal with gender issues in their communities. It helps to highlight the need to explore different ways of apprehending the past, and the importance of recognising the ways to create an alternative dialogue. In this way, more young people can be empowered to act to go beyond limiting concepts of development that are often measured by economic terms, and to promote human development through which people can fulfil their rights to pursue what they value, regardless of who they are.

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Cultural Artist Network

Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.

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MAP is made possible thanks to the support and funding of the following partners

The Role of Arts in Education for Peacebuilding and Learner-Centred Approach in Rwanda

The Role of Arts in Education for Peacebuilding and Learner-Centred Approach in Rwanda

By Anna Hata

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Learner-Centred Approach in Rwanda

‘MAP motivates and makes us free’ and helps to ‘resolve conflicts in our community,’ a youth member of Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) announced proudly in his speech at the 3-day conference hosted by MAP and Changing the Story. Hosted in cooperation with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda, this conference welcomed online participants from different countries worldwide from 5-7 August 2020.

Credit: Never Again Rwanda

MAP is a project led by Professor Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln in collaboration with Dr. Eric Ndushabandi from IRDP in Rwanda. MAP works with young people, using the arts to share their experiences and voice their ideas for peacebuilding and dealing with conflicts in their communities. MAP has been introduced in all five of Rwanda’s provinces, serving over 25 schools, 300 teachers/trainers, and 2,500 young people. The Rwanda Education Board (REB) has also integrated the MAP method into the national curriculum framework in Music, Dance and Drama

The learner-centered approach in education facilitated by the MAP matters for peacebuilding in Rwanda. In April 1994, the genocide against the Tutsi occurred in Rwanda, resulting in over 1,000,000 lives lost within about 100 days. This atrocity adversely affected Rwandan society, with schools destroyed, children and teachers killed, and many children and their families traumatised by witnessing unspeakable levels of violence. Historically speaking, education in Rwanda arguably emphasised the conceptualisation of enemies and allies as well as social stigmatisation along ethnic lines, through the structure of schooling and contents of schooling such as curriculum and pedagogy

For example, schools were used to reinforce the ethnic divisions in the Belgian colonisation period (1919-1962). Schools were established and run under the indirect control of the Belgian colonial authority that favoured the incumbent Tutsi elite. Different ethnic identities experienced extremely limited access to basic education, and most primary and secondary school students were Tutsi, although they were estimated to have made up 10-15% of the population at that time. Moreover, history education consisted mostly of a Euro-centric Rwandan history, using a narrative such as, Tutsi were a superior race that came centuries ago from Ethiopia and dominated the Hutu. The situation changed dramatically in the Hutu-dominated government after Rwanda achieved independence in 1962. Education often played a harmful role in generating hatred between the Hutu and the Tutsi, and teachers in history classes used an opposite narrative to reinforce divisions. These classes included stating that the Tutsi colonised Rwanda. As such, education became a perpetrator, planting the seeds of genocide. 

Currently, Rwanda is in a post-conflict phase focusing on a Rwandan identity to promote national unity and citizens free of prejudices and committed to human rights. In addition, all references to ethnic identities have been prohibited in public in favour of an emphasis on a shared Rwandan identity. In this context, learner-centered education approaches are critical for young people to engage in dialogue for peacebuilding.  

How can MAP help to practice learner-centred approach?

Different art forms, such as sharing stories, performance and dance, are important to create a space for students to freely express their ideas and communicate with others to deal with their communities’ issues. By using these methods, MAP helps students build self-confidence in talking about themselves, not only for themselves but also to help others express their own stories. As Dr. Eric from IRDP argues, the key is ‘not only sharing your stories, but also listening to stories of others and mixing them to progress together’. By doing so, MAP would encourage to co-build psychosocial support. Students can learn to share stories as a way to discuss the problems they face, such as discrimination and corruption. MAP can promote peace through the arts, such as performances that students put on. For example, students perform a play on issues with regards to discriminatory practices against students with disabilities at school, family and community levels. It creates a space for students and the audience (teachers, communities, policymakers) to discuss the issue and how to make a better environment. 

Professor Breed also emphasises the various benefits of MAP. Students can gain a lot of knowledge from each other and acquire crucial skills such as active listening, empathy, critical thinking, and public speaking skills, including those who did not previously have confidence. In this way, students can discover their talents. During the conference, youth members involved with MAP explained four important aspects of MAP from a student’s perspective: 1) to encourage students to be confident in themselves, 2) to strengthen ‘friendship’ between students and teachers, because when teachers start to listen, it strengthens the student-teacher relationship, 3) to make students perform better academically, as students can ask questions to teachers easily and comfortably, 4) to give students more opportunities to participate in dialogues which concern them. MAP encourages students to discover by themselves, instead of receiving everything from teachers. This active participation can give students a sense of ownership to navigate the peacebuilding process within their communities. 

Similarly, MAP can bring benefits for teachers. MAP Master Trainers who have been training other teachers explained the effects brought on by MAP: 1) to bring peace on the ground by enabling students to use art, dance and other art forms to solve conflicts in their communities, 2) to make teachers confident in practicing peacebuilding, by discovering different ways to engage with students and gaining the skills to use arts, games and other methods in teaching 3) to facilitate community dialogue to bring community members together and discuss sensitive topics, particularly related to the past and build intergenerational conversations. Teachers become peacebuilders in their communities by critically thinking about different issues to solve them, and building trust in their everyday lives, both in school and society.  

MAP highlights the importance of intergenerational dialogue which brings together teachers and students to create the foundations to affect a more just society. Through the MAP, teachers and students can learn how dialogues can relieve participants, encouraging them to share stories and find solutions. The MAP approach is adaptable to different local contexts. MAP is also being introduced in other post-conflict nations including Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia and Nepal. By using local arts, MAP’s approach can be applied to different societies to work with young people and use art to promote sustainable peace. 

For further reflections on the  ‘Arts-based Research for Education and Peacebuilding’ conference (hosted from 5–7 August see Beyond voice: expressing youth agency through arts-based approaches in Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP).

MAP in Nepal – Report from Scoping Visit (2020)

MAP in Nepal – Report from Scoping Visit (2020)

In Nepal, MAP Network Plus conducted a series of internal scoping visits between 25 March – 30 August 2020.

The scoping visits’ activities included consultations with representatives of local government, teachers and school management, arts-led organizations and psychosocial organizations.

These scoping visits involved mapping key local partners and schools, briefing research participants, establishing connections with partner schools, child clubs and youth clubs, and conducting six cultural artists workshops.

Scoping visit methods included semi-structured interviews, observation, interactions and reflection based story-telling. In total, the MAP Nepal team interacted with 4 local government officials, 22 school leaders, 6 child club leaders, 17 local artists, and 9 researchers and 16 other stakeholders. In the process of scoping visits, the scoping team introduced participants to observation and reflection based story-telling.

© Human Rights Film Festival and Tribhuvan University, 2020.

 

Nepal MAP

Report from Scoping Visit

Rethinking young people’s ‘right to participation’: the case of MAP-CTS Project

Rethinking young people’s ‘right to participation’: the case of MAP-CTS Project

Written by: Danae Chatzinikoli and Stefania Vindrola.

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Changing the Story (CTS) hosted a three-day conference from 5 – 7 August in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda. The conference focused on encouraging child and youth participation through arts-based methods to inform policy and decision-making. It was an opportunity for MAP facilitators, master trainers, policymakers, organisations, partners and participants from Rwanda, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, the United Kingdom and other countries, to interact through both physical and online spaces.

While attending, the concept of ‘participation’ took many different forms. As in most conferences, one could participate by observing, actively participating or both. But due to the new reality that Covid-19 has imposed, alternative ways of participating were introduced. This conference had people participating by being in the conference rooms practicing social distancing, but it also had most of its participants, actively participating from their spaces all around the world online. Time-zones, connectivity and distances were merged into this event. Talks were delivered online from many different places and discussions were made between people who were on opposite sides of the planet. That surely changes the concept of participation and respects the ‘right to participate’ in a different manner. Under normal circumstances, the right to participate would be respected by allowing anyone relevant wishing to participate. Having a specific location for the event would exclude anyone who was not geographically available; therefore, keeping the event limited to people already at the location or those able to travel there. Of course, that creates other types of inequalities in terms of connectivity. Not everyone has access to the internet, and not everyone has a device they can use at any time. But what worked really well for this specific event is that it was hybrid, by having participants both online and in person. It allowed anyone from anywhere to participate eliminating any spatial difficulties that would otherwise limit them. Equally, it allowed young people in Rwanda – who would potentially have had connectivity issues due to a low internet access – to be involved directly. Therefore, the MAP-CTS event was able to equally promote the ‘right to participation’ going beyond social differences that might affect it.

Despite social distancing measures and restrictions, the conference allowed young people to voice their opinions and suggestions in relation to social issues in Rwandan society. It offered them a space to be, act and feel as citizens and exercise their right to participate and be heard. This is remarkable because young people are often perceived as ‘not-yet-adults’: individuals who have not yet developed the competency, rationality and maturity of adults (Uprichard, 2008). As a result, their ideas and opinions do not receive the attention they deserve. The MAP – CTS conference was structured in a way that promoted youth participation throughout the three days. Every session included moments for young people to express their thoughts and answer questions from policymakers and other attendees. Furthermore, their feelings and ideas – represented in a theatre presentation they performed – were the starting point for further group discussions. Throughout the event, young people were involved as much (if not even more) as adult participants. This reflects that, within the MAP-CTS Project, the right to participate is not ‘given’ to young people but otherwise is constructed on the basis of horizontal relations with adults. According to Lundy (2007), children’s right to participate should be guaranteed in a safe and inclusive space, and with adults that listen (not just hear) actively to their voices. This was clear during the MAP-CTS conference not only because of the high youth participation rate, but also because of the inclusion of a diverse range of participants from different ages, gender and school levels. Moreover, the right to participate was not an imposition from adults; during the group discussions young people were always asked if they would be willing to express their opinion as a way to show them it was entirely their decision and that it was safe to do it.

The MAP – CTS Project encourages children and young people to realise that they can and have the right to participate in broader society. This will motivate them to raise their voices with more impetus and strength, but will also have a significant impact on the way they are conceptualised by other generations. The Project goes beyond common stereotypes that tend to consider young people as irresponsible individuals who always get in trouble and cannot control their actions and emotions (Brown, 2009). It contributes to changing the image we have about them and positions them as valuable contributors and shapers of society. For example, one of the aims of the MAP – CTS Project is to connect young people with policy-makers through art-based methods. By doing that, the ‘right to participate’ is again respected in multiple ways. Firstly, young people have the opportunity to participate in a project that allows them to practice their right. Within the project and its workshops, the young people are trained and then train other people in the arts-based methodology. The methodology acts as a tool to reach the next step of the project which is the promotion of peace-building and constructive change. Through the process of being trained and then potentially training others, young people claim their right to participate. There is not some authority that allows them to do so, the training and learning is the enabler in the specific context.

MAP – CTS Project bridges childhood and youth with the policy-making arena. This is an interesting connection because, in the public discourse, political debates and policy-making are activities usually restricted to adults. The Project opens new possibilities for young people and extends their right to participate from their inner realities (family and school) towards their local contexts more broadly. Young people’s views are the pillar of the Project, the reason that connects adults, teachers and policy-makers, and enables them to construct relations with the aim of fostering social changes. In this sense, MAP-CTS promotes a ‘right to participation’ that goes beyond a tokenistic approach and takes young people’s views seriously (Lundy, 2018). Additionally, the Project allows children and young people to understand how policy-making works, how policy documents are created and enacted by different social actors. Therefore, apart from its goal of connecting young people and policy-makers through arts-based methods, MAP – CTS is also a way for the former to learn how society functions every day.

Through this short analysis, it becomes clear that the MAP-CTS Project contributes to rethinking young people’s ‘right to participation’.  It does so both by its structure and practically. This specific event can be thought of as a paradigm of how this Project respects children’s and young people’s ‘right to participate’ and of how the response to Covid-19 can create new paths to thinking about participation.

References

Brown, K. (2009). Children as Problems, Problems of Children. In Qvortrup, J., Corsaro, W. & Honig, M-S. (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies (pp. 256 – 272). London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Lundy, L. (2007). ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. British Educational Research Journal, 33(6), 927 – 942.

Lundy, L. (2018). In defence of ‘tokenism’? Implementing children’s right to participate in collective decision-making. Childhood, 25(3), 340 – 354.

Uprichard, E. (2008). Children as ‘Being and Becomings’: Children, Childhood, Temporality. Children & Society, 22, 303 – 313.

 

Beyond voice: expressing youth agency through arts-based approaches in Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP)

Beyond voice: expressing youth agency through arts-based approaches in Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP)

Written by Di Wu

A 3-day event was hosted by the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Changing the Story (CTS), in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda. The event aimed at using art-based approaches to engage young people, educators, cultural artists and policy makers to influence curriculum and policy-making for peacebuilding. The event provided a rich and dynamic platform that enabled participants from Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia, Ugand, and other countries to actively build conversation, share ideas and find solutions by addressing the young people’s theatre play, story-telling and other art-based activities despite the time and geographical differences across the countries as well as the limited conditions caused by Covid-19.

As the founder of MAP Professor Ananda Breed said, “in terms of the projects, there is building of art skills, creative thinking, well being and a space or environment in which young people feel abled to share stories in a deep and meaning ways and apply their stories to influence others, to find solutions to those problems in their community.” In other words, the project enables young people to voice their views and assert their agency through creative and expressive means.  In the study of childhood, children and young people are recognized as ‘voiceless’ due to the lack of power and their minor position in relation to adults. It is true that children and young people are restrained by the limited platforms to express their voices. Even though they increasingly participate in different programs, organizations and governments due to the promotion of children’s rights, there is still a gap between practice and policy and the programs are often “tokenistic, unrepresentative in membership, adult-led in process, and ineffective in acting upon what children want”. [1]

Portraying children and young people as ‘voiceless’ tends to neglect the fact that they are able to utilize art tools, such as theatre play, story telling and music to expressing their agency in creative, articulate and meaningful ways and therefore to negotiate their position in adult-dominant world and actively engage in the political arenas. [2] Through a series of activities including a curriculum workshop, training of trainers and drama clubs organized by MAP, children and young people are expected to be at the centre, voicing their everyday lives in the complex social and cultural contexts through bodily actions, theatre and musical performance and other creative methods in order to build dialogue, influence and challenge their relationships with parents, communities and wider social structures. MAP Rwanda youth trainer Sandrine said that there was a big difference between before and after engaging with MAP. Before being part of MAP, she was a very fearful person who could not stand in front of people. After engaging with MAP, she feels free and can stand in front of people and express her ideas clearly.

The MAP methodology also ensures that the adult educators are able to better understand their students from a new perspective and therefore develop and improve the curriculum and learning environment accordingly. A MAP research participant from Rwanda stated that he used MAP activities including drama plays to prepare lesson plans and learners were more motivated and interested. Those activities enable young people to find ways  to solve their own problems that are there in society; to clarify the root causes, the consequences, and to find solutions. It is through that platform that the school principals know the problems students have and they try to search for the solutions together.

So far, MAP has reached 250 educators and 2,000 young people in Rwanda and more educators, youth facilitators and students in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia and Nepal. The MAP approach provides creative means for young people to express concerns and ideas through multiple methods t and to be heard, which therefore builds dialogue among young people, trainers, communities and policy makers to identify and find solutions for peacebuilding.

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[1] Taft, J. K. (2015). “Adults talk too much”: Intergenerational dialogue and power in the Peruvian movement of working children. Childhood22(4), 460-473.

[2] Emberly, A., & Davhula, L. A. (2016). My music, my voice: Musicality, culture and childhood in Vhavenda communities. Childhood23(3), 438-45

Beyond voice: expressing youth agency through arts-based approaches in Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP)

Arts-based Methods and Digital Technology for Peacebuilding during the time of COVID

Written by Professor Ananda Breed

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Changing the Story (CTS) hosted a three-day conference that focused on ‘Arts-based Research for Education and Peacebuilding’ from 5 – 7 August with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) as a co-host in Rwanda.[1]

Speakers included the MAP youth facilitators and master trainers alongside the University of Rwanda, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Never Again Rwanda, Aegis Trust, Rwanda Education Board (REB) and UNESCO as well as workshops, performances and panels. The conference used technology to link partners across Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia, Uganda, the United Kingdom and other countries. Zoom, live camera feed, and combined physical and virtual break out rooms enabled connection and interaction between the 40 participants who were located at IRDP and between 40-50 participants who joined online across the three-day event. [2]

MAP Master Trainers and Youth Facilitators

MAP Master Trainers and Youth Facilitators

Due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures during the time of COVID, the event highlighted the opportunities and possibilities for digital technology to connect research communities on a global level. This focus built upon an online webinar by Changing the Story, ‘From Grassroots Participation to Policy’, which examined new possibilities for grassroots engagement with policymakers.

Beyond the attendees at IRDP and online, there were additional communication hubs set up for MAP participants to engage with the event in each of the five provinces (Northern Province, Southern Province, Eastern Province, Western Province and Kigali Province). Laptops and communication packages were administered for MAP research participants to follow the event through communication hubs (for those who did not own their own computer or smart phone). In this way, MAP created a responsive, creative, and innovative digital platform that used a blended approach between online and physical spaces to engage with our research participants across Rwanda and other countries.

The Principal Investigator of CTS, Professor Paul Cooke, stated: ‘The event was a Master Class in how to turn a necessity into an opportunity. It was great to have such international interaction. While I would have much preferred to be in the room in person in Rwanda, we could never have afforded to bring such an international group together.’

An online participant in Rwanda stated: ‘The event was well organised. I appreciated the discussions in groups and the presentations about the problems in society using the solution tree exercise. Thank you for inviting different partners in education, especially the Rwanda Education Board (REB), which is the one to elaborate education policies. Thank you for providing us with all of the necessary materials needed to follow the event. We were connected and allowed each and everything.’

A MAP Exercise, called the ‘Solutions Tree’, completed by event participants

One of the primary outcomes of the event was the successful generation and distribution of knowledge on a local level (communication hubs across Rwanda) and on a global level (linking the event to participants and partners in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia, Uganda, the United Kingdom and other countries). In this way, MAP discovered new opportunities provided by communication and digital technology to provide additional opportunities to engage our research participants and to have greater impact on local and international levels. During the conference, MAP youth facilitators and master trainers worked alongside the participants at IRDP and the online community to explore the root causes of conflict and their solutions in response to the staged issue of discrimination (that was illustrated through a video clip of a forum theatre performance about disability that was originally generated through the sharing of personal stories during a MAP youth camp held November 2019).

Another online conference attendee and MAP research participant stated: ‘MAP activities help especially in the teaching and learning process and education in general. For example, when I am teaching, I use these activities to prepare a lesson plan; and because they are engaging, learners are motivated and interested. MAP activities match with competence-based curriculum which is currently used in Rwanda. MAP activities made the youth improve their way to solve their own problems that are there in society; to clarify the root causes (and any other causes), the consequences, and to find solutions. At my school, we have MAP clubs that perform plays in front of the school. It is through that platform that the school principals know the problems students have and they try to search for the solutions together.’ 

MAP activities and discussion groups

Following discussions that linked the physical and online break out rooms, a solution tree exercise elicited feedback in relation to the perceived conflict, root causes, consequences and solutions. In terms of informing policy, a representative from the REB and UNICEF responded very positively to the solution tree and a draft policy brief was presented by the MAP youth facilitators and master trainers.

Ministers from government institutions sent WhatsApp chats to the director of IRDP and CTS Co-I, Eric Ndushabandi, in response to the policy brief. In this way, MAP served to communicate the issues that young people face through arts-based methods (performance, visual arts, film) to policy makers; in this way establishing a two-way form of communication between young people and policy makers. We aim to harness these approaches and findings within the development of an AHRC GCRF Network Plus project entitled Mobile Arts for Peace: Informing the National Curriculum and Youth Policy for Peacebuilding in Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia and Nepal (2020-2024).

For more information about MAP, please go to the website: map.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk or contact Ananda Breed at ABreed@lincoln.ac.uk.

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[1] MAP was a Phase One project for Changing the Story (2017-2021) led by Co-I Ananda Breed and Eric Ndushabandi that evolved into a fully-fledged Network Plus project led by Ananda Breed as Principal Investigator and eight Co-Investigators from Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Indonesia, Nepal and the United Kingdom (Tajyka Shabdanova, Eric Ndushabandi, Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo, Harla Sara Octarra, Bishnu Khatri, Rajib Timalsina, Kirrily Pells, Koula Charitonos and Fereshte Goshtasbpour).

[2] Registrants included 42 participants on 5 August, 52 participants on 6 August and 43 participants on 7 August.

 

Examining Civic National Values in Kenya and Nepal: Why, how and what next?

Examining Civic National Values in Kenya and Nepal: Why, how and what next?

This post was originally published via Changing the Story (CTS)’s #YoungChangemakers series on 1st October 2019, as part of the CTS sub-project Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal. 

Changing the Story is an AHRC GCRF project which asks how the arts, heritage and human rights education can support youth-centred approach to civil society building in post-conflict settings across the world. The ‘Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal’ was closely linked to the methodologies used in the CTS MAP project, and contributed to Nepal becoming one of MAP’s current country focus. Find out more about Changing the Story and see the original post here: https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk 

 

Written by Marlon Moncrieffe (University of Brighton), Principal Investigator on the Phase 2 Kenya and Nepal project.

Examining Interpretations of Civic National Values made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal’ is led by a consortium of UK, Kenyan and Nepalese partners, a fusion of academics, educators, peacebuilders, civil society organisations and Performance Arts Companies that focus on Theatre.

Our project fuses performance arts methodologies as a pedagogical approach to teaching and learning in primary schools. We provide children with the opportunity to reflect on what they may know of past conflict in their countries, but through their understanding of community peacebuilding in the now, and for the future. This project is centred fully as a comparison of young voices from Kenya and Nepal. However, it is a project that speaks comparatively to the statutory teaching and learning of ‘civic national values’ in UK early years settings, primary and secondary schools through the notion of ‘Fundamental British Values’. These have emerged from more recent and current times of social and religious conflict and are stated as: democracy; the rule of law; individual liberty; mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. The statutory teaching of these is aimed at preventing radicalisation in young people and seeks to foster a universal sense of connection and belonging to national identity.

Our decision to develop a comparison of educational responses to teaching and learning about civic national values in Kenya and Nepal was associated with commonalities to the UK context, but more specifically to congruency identified in Kenyan and Nepalese policies for post-conflict citizenship education. This is identified by the discourses of ‘values’ education. In Nepal, this includes the stated provision of ‘Moral Education’ for the teaching of ‘citizens in the community’ ‘civil rights and duties’ (Basic Education Curriculum, 2018). In Kenya the notion of developing ‘Engaged, Empowered & Ethical Citizens’ emerges from their national policy for ‘Values’ education (Basic Education Curriculum Framework, 2017).

Aims

Our project was interested in achieving the following research aims:

  • To empower young people in post-conflict settings to develop and advance their thinking about the past, present and future possibilities of peacebuilding through theories of ‘reflection’, in our case using the method of a reflective diary.
  • To explore how young people in post-conflict settings interpret and communicate civic national values supported by their application of varied performance arts-based tools and techniques.
  • To examine the perspectives of teachers on civic national values including the varied ways they share these narratives with their learners.
  • To facilitate our research partners to continuously analyse, reflect on and conceptualize their understandings and shared communications of civic national values for advancing future policymaking through a performance arts-based ‘scheme of work’, that can be applied locally, nationally and internationally in comparative contexts.

Methods

Our project created a four-part Scheme of Work (SoW). These were lesson plans written by the project team that sought to embellish current aims and objectives of values and citizenship education policies each country. We worked with teachers from primary and secondary schools in Nepal and Kenya and tested the processes of the Scheme of Work. The teachers facilitated their students who reflected on their experiences of ‘community’ and project ideas of and ideal community through their own notions of ‘tolerance’ and ‘mutual respect’. Lesson one and Lesson two both encouraged the young people to reflect on their locality; to articulate and record their experiences of community; cultural and ethnic differences and similarities; and cultural identity and citizenship. These lessons sought to develop thinking, discussion and shared articulation on values such as ‘tolerance’ and ‘mutual respect’ at a micro community level. Participation by young-people and teachers were also filmed by the project team. Lesson three helped the young people to turn their ideas from Lesson one and Lesson two into action and performance. This approach was facilitated by professionals from performance arts organisations: Zenn Theatre Company (Kenya) and Mandala Theatre Company (Nepal). The performances generated by the young people were then captured on film.

Credit: Marlon Moncrieffe

Discussion

There are many comparative opportunities for our project. In each country, we managed to apply the Scheme of Work in two very different schools (urban and rural) (state and private). This allowed us to understand more about the pedagogical variations adopted by teachers in each school with further comparisons of traditional to experimental approaches in teaching and learning. The cultural capital of the teachers and the students were also significant factors in determining the engagement with the Scheme of Work. We ensured that the Scheme of Work document was written in three different languages: English, Nepali and Swahili. This ensured connection and equity in empowering all teachers to facilitate the lesson plans.

Our Civil Society Organisation participants in attendance as spectators were keen to learn more about the research process. This project has brought for them an alternative approach in the selection of performance arts tools in relation to education and peacebuilding with young people (For more on this read the blogs by two young changemakers working on the project). Although the practices and approaches were new to so many, the participants actively engaged with activities using Ipads as their digital diaries of reflection, and participatory approaches founded on child-centred teaching and learning.

Credit: Marlon Moncrieffe

[Nepal explosion kills four in capital] This incident occurred as we began our research in Nepal. As a team it made us critique the term ‘Post-Conflict’ especially where we were told that the suspects of the attack were Maoist Splinter Group linked closely to deep conflict of the past. It reminded us the issues faced by people in this country are indeed relatively current. The explosions caused deaths and a resulting ‘strike’ which slowed Kathmandu. Lack of transport to the city and within it prevented teachers and partners from attending our pre-conference meeting and seminar session.

From gaining our data we reminded ourselves not to draw generalisations from two schools in each country, but to think more carefully about how we assess the children’s work through the processes of the SoW. We also reminded ourselves that a critical stance must be adopted towards our SoW. We see our project both as a research and development project.

Next steps

The aim of Lesson 4 is for the films made to date to shown at each school. Following this, the young people involved will write their reflections; the aim being to share their thoughts on the cross-cultural exchanges and their new knowledge and interpretations of civic national values through hearing the voices of their peers in hard to reach parts of their country. What are the commonalities in their voices? What do they learn from each other about community, mutual respect and tolerance? Lesson 4 will facilitate thinking, discussion and shared articulation on how young people’s interpretations of civic national values can be advanced further towards a sense of connection and belonging with national identity at a macro community level.

 

Examining the Interpretation of Civic National Values made by young people in Nepal

Examining the Interpretation of Civic National Values made by young people in Nepal

This post was originally published via Changing the Story (CTS)’s #YoungChangemakers series on 1st October 2019, as part of the CTS sub-project Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal. 

Changing the Story is an AHRC GCRF project which asks how the arts, heritage and human rights education can support youth-centred approach to civil society building in post-conflict settings across the world. The ‘Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal’ was closely linked to the methodologies used in the CTS MAP project, and contributed to Nepal becoming one of MAP’s current country focus. Find out more about Changing the Story and see the original post here: https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk 

 

Written by Pramila Bisunke.

When I (first) heard the title of the project (Examining the Interpretation of Civic National Values made by young people in Nepal and Kenya), I was literally perplexed thinking what this is really about.

My role at Changing the Story

In this particular project I was responsible for administration and documentation. I started by going through the documents about changing the story, program content particularly in case of Nepal and its projects in different countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Rwanda, Kosovo and Cambodia etc. We were supposed to pilot (our project) in two schools; one rural and one urban. (My role involved) communicating with the schools and (translating) the documents we had about the project: about Changing the Story, information sheets, consent forms for children and lesson plans for teachers etc. needed to be translated from English to Nepali for field work preparation. It was only through doing this I got the gist of what we were supposed to do while simultaneously still wondering how it (would) work. (I started to) document planning meetings, seminars in Tribhuvan University, sessions in schools and review meetings. I prepared meeting notes and disseminated among the people involved in the project and my understanding about project got even better.

I grew up in such school environment where I just sit on the bench and listen to the teacher. Even today, I believe more than half of the schools follow the same teaching method. I will not say this method of teaching is the best in today’s context. Because the concept of teaching and learning is not only limited to student listening and teacher speaking, it is now more about (the) participation of students and using various artistic methods to learn as well as apply the learning better in life.

Working on the documents in our own local language gave me the concept of new methods in teaching along with the use of technology i.e. Ipad. During the fieldwork when I engaged in the activities (I saw) fun group work among students, their own lessons on community and moral education from their course book, reflections on their actual concept of community, living in harmony, equality regardless of gender, background, caste, culture and profession. Moreover, their capacity to reflect their thoughts into community context through arts such as drama, poetry and songs were amazing. It was all smiles on their faces after the activities.

I believe such projects need to be demonstrated in as many schools and countries as possible to adapt the teaching methods in schools. In addition to that, the teachers should be trained in such a way that the learning can be fun rather than memorizing the textbook. This will be a major educational change if we can adapt the teaching methods to the present context of post conflict settings. Particularly in post conflict because people have been displaced or migrated from one place to another, therefore the society is more mixed up in between rural and urban, people from different backgrounds. As the title says Changing the Story, it might help young people to learn about respect, harmony, peace, equality, non-discrimination from the schooling age in more practical ways that they learned through their own engagement.

Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values made by young people in Nepal: A youth perspective

Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values made by young people in Nepal: A youth perspective

This post was originally published via Changing the Story (CTS)’s #YouthChangemakers series on 1st October 2019, as part of the CTS sub-project Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal. 

Changing the Story is an AHRC GCRF project which asks how the arts, heritage and human rights education can support youth-centred approach to civil society building in post-conflict settings across the world. ‘Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal’ was closely linked to the methodologies used in the CTS MAP project, and contributed to Nepal becoming one of MAP’s current country focus. Find out more about Changing the Story and see the original post here: https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk 

Written by Samjhana Balami

Hello, I am Samjhana Balami from Nepal, currently a management student and a freelancer. I am an introvert in nature but always ready to learn if get a chance. In the process of learning, some months ago​, I got a chance to assist ‘Young Changemakers CTS Kenya-Nepal Phase 2 program’ project.

Being an undergraduate student the project theme was vague for me to understand and was beyond my course curriculum and work area. My role was centered on photography, videography and filmmaking. Being a fresher at first I was nervous as I met experienced, talented people involved in this project. I also had a feeling that I do not belong to this project but the first meeting with the team gave me confidence to carry on with the work. Everyone was so humble, down to earth and fun too. With such great team members I got a great opportunity to learn and improve myself.

Although my role was on film making, I was equally given a chance to interact with the audience. I wasn’t bound to my role only. The field work in urban and rural schools created a kind of nostalgia for me. When I was a student in school, I was supposed to focus more on my textbooks. The case was not only of mine but of the whole education system. We, the students were guided as per the syllabus of the textbooks only. Extra curricular activities (were considered) a learning platform but only textbooks were a source for academic teaching. Being the part of Changing the Story (CTS) I found that teaching could be done with various means and resources. I have never thought art could also be a medium for teaching. I was astonished to see how the students were learning about the civic values through the medium of art. Both the technology and art used in teaching during the CTS program could set a reference to our education system.

During all the sessions, I found excitement and interest in every student to learn something different. Everyone was active and giving their best in each tasks. I have seen the joy and amazement in them when the technology and arts were used in teaching and learning. The Ipad introduction and its use in reflection recording, community understanding reflection through graffiti art/dramas/poems/songs, several creative games etc gave them a platform to share their thoughts, talents and also advertise their knowledge. Though the session was for a day I could sense the learning will benefit them throughout life because at such small age they are given ideas and knowledge on civic values which is very rare in our country context.

The activities were fun as well as an effective learning platform for both the students and us. It was a great experience being a part of such an amazing project with amazing, enthusiastic people. This project gave me the knowledge of ‘Learning by Doing’. It became a great opportunity to learn the scenarios about which I was unaware. It changed my perception towards teaching and learning. It made me realize how the technology and arts could be a medium in academic activities. I got an opportunity to personally experience the situation of education system of two different sectors; Urban & Rural. It added an experience to my career and helped to improve my skills. I believe, the things that I have learned should also be the learning of others. As it has changed my way of thinking regarding education, it could also bring changes in others as well the system.

Civil Society Organisations Reflections on Arts Based Methodologies in Schools

Civil Society Organisations Reflections on Arts Based Methodologies in Schools

This post was originally published via Changing the Story (CTS) on 20th December 2019, as part of the CTS sub-project Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal. 

Changing the Story is an AHRC GCRF project which asks how the arts, heritage and human rights education can support youth-centred approach to civil society building in post-conflict settings across the world. The ‘Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal’ was closely linked to the methodologies used in the CTS MAP project, and contributed to Nepal becoming one of MAP’s current country focus. Find out more about Changing the Story and see the original post here: https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk 

Written By Nub Raj Bhandari (Janaki Women Awareness Society)

Co-I, Examining the Interpretations of Civic National Values Made by Young People in Kenya and Nepal

Project Summary

Two decades of internal conflict and instability in Nepal has brought a drastic reformation in the state structure from central government to federal state including the education system. The school education is divided into two levels: basic (up to 8th grade) and secondary education (9th – 12th grade). Moral education is included in the curriculum of basic education aiming to inform young children about civic national values such as citizenship, social and moral behavior, tolerance and mutual respect. The local government units (LGUs) are responsible for the formation as well as implementation of regulations related to education. Besides the efforts of the central government to reform learning, LGUs, educational institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs) were also seeking opportunities to engage young children in the learning process in post conflict communities. To inform and advance policy making at local (LGUs) and national level on the interpretations of civic national values made by young people, we devised Schemes of Work consisting of reflections-actions-performances-recording and tested them in two schools. The schools and participants were selected randomly from distinct setting: rural/urban, public/private and English medium/Nepali medium. Six young students each from grades six, seven and eight grades, two teachers and two CSOs were selected randomly from each school.

Engagement of CSOs

The selection of CSOs was purposeful. In each school (rural and urban), two CSOs were invited to observe the research process. They overtly observed the engagement of young children and teachers in the arts based methodologies (reflections, actions, performances and recording). Based on a set of open-ended questions, the CSOs provided a reflective overview on the arts based methodologies, overall research process and content.

Reflections of CSOs over the research process

At the planning phase, there were two questions concerning the engagement of CSOs in the research process. The first was ‘whether the CSOs accept arts based engagement of young children as a process of teaching and learning? Similarly, the second question was, ‘how could the engagement of CSOs in the research process add value to the project?’ The reflections from the CSOs showed that their engagement was an essential part of the project. ‘I am wondering, how can I apply these steps in my work?’ was the concern of one CSO participant. While young children were drawing to illustrate their vision of a model community, CSO participants expressed their interest to integrate the activity into their own work at schools. The drawing, according to a CSO, ‘is the best way of engaging students and teachers in the learning and teaching process’. They expressed their interest to learn more about the SOW; ‘I should learn more about the arts based methodologies’, said one urban CSO. Similarly, ‘can we work together on similar project in future’, was the interest of rural CSOs.

According to CSOs, lessons on reflection and performance help young children to learn fast. ‘Everyone is actively participating, so these forms of creative engagement are a better way of engaging young people in the learning processes’ was the common response of CSOs. Though they were watching the actions and performances of young people, they spoke much about engaging adolescents and adults in their community based civic education projects. However, CSO participants know that it is not easy for Nepali CSOs to follow these lessons in their development projects. It could be a challenge to organize multiple opinions of different groups because research is not the common working arena for CSOs in Nepal. Therefore, when they return to their actual work, it could be a challenge for them to integrate the theory of the research they have experienced. However, every opinion made by CSOs in this research project is praiseworthy and it is also a positive indication for the follow up activities based on arts based methodology.

CSO participant observing the research process. Photo credit: Nub Raj Bhandari

Concluding remarks and way forwards

The observations of CSOs throughout the research process from lesson one to four of the SOW’s (reflections, actions, performances and recording), endorse the arts based methodology as a successful research tool to engage people for constructive learning in the post conflict context. CSOs’ keen interest for including the arts based methodologies and SOW in their work could be considered a further step towards sustainability of the process.

With the above reflections, the way forward for future similar projects would be to provide a space for CSOs in the research process to improve their understanding of arts based methodology at a deeper level. This could be done through engaging them in pre-planning meetings, orienting them about the research process well before the fieldwork and engaging them as facilitators as well. CSOs engagement in the pre-planning meeting and orientation will enhance their understanding of the differences between their CSO project and a research project. The facilitation will strengthen them their interest in integrating arts based methodologies in their regular project, which will further support the sustainability of arts based approaches in the post conflict countries.

MAP: Shaping the Rwandan National Curriculum

MAP: Shaping the Rwandan National Curriculum

This post was originally published via Changing the Story on 19th March 2020. Changing the Story is an AHRC GCRF project which asks how the arts, heritage and human rights education can support youth-centred approach to civil society building in post-conflict settings across the world. The development of the MAP project was a major output of Changing the Story and the two projects continue to work closely together. Find out more about Changing the Story and see the original post here: https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk 

 

The role of arts for peacebuilding initiatives has influenced major research and civil society organisations both nationally and internationally. Some of the benefits of arts-based approaches includes the opportunity to create innovative approaches for community dialogue alongside the development of skill building in the performing arts more generally. Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) is one such initiative in Rwanda, spearheaded by Dr. Eric Ndushabandi from the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Prof. Dr. Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln and the Rwanda Education Board (REB) to inform the national curriculum framework in Music, Dance and Drama.

MAP delivered arts-based curricula from March 2018–January 2019 in the Eastern Province of Rwanda to inform the national curriculum framework as the Phase 1 practice-as-research project for Changing the Story. In 2019, Breed was awarded £100,000 AHRC Follow-on impact funding as Principal Investigator for the extension of MAP from the Eastern Province to the other four provinces in Rwanda, including the Northern Province, Western Province, Southern Province, and Kigali Province to incorporate all regions in Rwanda. To date, cultural artists, educators and young people have informed the development of a 250-page training manual that has been translated into Kinyarwanda and established numerous drama clubs alongside the incorporation of MAP into the curriculum.

Participants in the stakeholder meeting in Kigali, January 2019

Participants in the stakeholder meeting in Kigali, January 2019

On 23 January 2019, the IDRP launched their role as co-investigator of MAP at a stakeholder meeting in Kigali, Rwanda attended by the Rwanda Education Board (REB), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Sports and Culture, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of ICT and Innovation, and numerous distinguished guests. Mrs. Joan Umurungi from REB served as the guest of honour. Umurungi commented on the importance of arts for peacebuilding and educational processes. Additionally, REB representatives noted their endorsement of MAP as a key partner and how MAP aligns with the vision of the Ministry of Education concerning the development of the competencebased curriculum. The Ministry of Sports and Culture noted the importance of MAP to develop the creative industries nationally. Ministry representatives noted that MAP is practical, grassroots based, and brings a sense of ‘life’ in terms of conflict prevention and the promotion of dialogue through an arts-based approach. Noted endorsements included the ability for MAP to enhance peace values, public speaking, inclusive education and to develop a society that assists with healing. Speakers included: Dr. Eric Ndushabandi from IRDP; Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo from the College of Education, University of Rwanda; Dr. Samuel Rushworth from Aegis Trust; Mrs. Amy Barnecutt from A Partner in Education; Mr. Jeymo Mutinda from Music Mind Consult; Mr. Victor Ntezirembo from IRDP and Ms. Laure Iyaga from Sana Initiative. Presentations and workshops were based on the use of arts with and for young people in peacebuilding initiatives. 

The national competence-based curriculum in Rwanda from primary to upper secondary (2015) includes Music, Dance and Drama as a subject, although at the time of writing there is no provision of curriculum nor training available. In addition to integrating Music, Dance and Drama into the curriculum, the competence-based curriculum promotes participative and interactive methods stating: ‘Teachers need to shift from traditional methods of instruction and adopt participatory and interactive methods that engage young people in the learning process, both in groups and as individuals. This ensures that learning is active, participative and engaging rather than passive, and that it is personalised, addressing learners’ individual needs and expectations’ (Ministry of Education 2015: 73). To address some of these stated needs and objectives, MAP coordinated a series of activities. 

MAP activities in 2018 included a pilot project in the Eastern Province of Rwanda working with ten cultural organisations, five schools, twenty-five adult trainers and ten youth trainers. Following a series of activities including a scoping visit, curriculum workshop, training of trainers and youth camp, the MAP methodology was disseminated to 62 educators and 526 young people on a weekly basis. The methodology incorporates the use of participatory arts for trust building, teamwork, facilitation, leadershipand public speaking. The methodology incorporates mental health awareness and conflict negotiation skills alongside skill development in characterisation, improvisation, voice and movement. In addition, MAP incorporates Music, Dance, Drama and the Visual Arts using an interdisciplinary approach.  

In a presentation delivered by Nzahabwanayo, he reported key data collection findings derived from ten interviews with MAP adult trainers, nine interviews with MAP youth trainers, and six interviews with MAP cultural artists. Key findings included: 

  • MAP has contributed significantly to the improvement of the learning processes of high school students. 
  • MAP has empowered them with public speaking skills. They are now able to argue for a case and voice their opinion publicly. 
  • MAP has improved the academic performance of students. Some say that before engaging with MAP they used to be lazy in the classroom. But after MAP, they learn enthusiastically; they try to link what they learn with their daily life and this contributes greatly to their academic achievement. 
  • MAP has improved parent and student relations. Students stated that before engaging with MAP, they were fearing their parents and were only receiving instructions. After MAP, they have acquired skills to engage in a dialogue with their parents on different issues and come to a consensus. 
  • MAP has enabled them to identify some major problems prevailing in their community, and students feel called upon to contribute in addressing these problems. 

In an interview conducted by Breed on 29 November 2018 with a twelve-year-old youth participant of MAP, she stated:

With MAP, we have confidence to act and contribute. Not only has it influenced me as a person, but by applying the techniques, I’ve been able to realise that I’m empowered. I learned through MAP that the more that I voice my opinion, the more I’m understood.

In an interview conducted by Breed on 28 November 2018 with a twenty-fiveyearold adult educator from Friends of the Children International School, Hassan Ngendahimana, stated:

After the training of trainers, we worked with our school children. They were motivated and developed skills. Among the teachers, we now have a drama team. We teachers are capable to train the children in drama. The impact of MAP in our schools is seen through what we are doing.

Mobile Arts for Peace: March 2019 Update

Mobile Arts for Peace: March 2019 Update

This post is a rework of the March 2019 MAP newsletter.

This post is a re-post of the MAP newsletter of March 2019.

Facilitators at the training of trainers make a tableau, or frozen image, August 2018. Photo: Deus Kwizera

In 2018, MAP was launched in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Initial activities included a curriculum workshop with cultural artists to inform the methodology, a training of trainers with educators to adapt the methodology to local and regional contexts, and a youth camp to train young people as facilitators working alongside the adult educators to develop drama clubs and to integrate the methodology into schools.

In Rwamagana, MAP worked with five schools, ten cultural organisations, twenty-five educators, and ten young people to design and deliver the MAP methodology. Following the training events, youth and adult trainers extended the training to an additional 62 educators and 526 young people by the December 2018.

Teachers, cultural artists and young participants gather for a photo at the youth camp, December 2018. Photo: Deus Kwizera

What’s Next in 2019? 

Countrywide Expansion
Thanks to AHRC follow on impact funding, MAP youth and adult trainers from Rwamagana district will train adult educators and young people in Gicumbi, Rubavu, Nyamasheke, Huye and Kicukiro using the same structure as the pilot phase.

Small Grants
In order to support their extraordinary success, MAP adult and youth trainers have been invited to apply for small grants that can help to deliver ongoing training; to initiate drama clubs; and to expand MAP to other schools, communities and districts in the Eastern Province.

Mobile Filmmaking
MAP adult and youth trainers will participate in a Mobile Filmmaking workshop conducted by Eric Kabera of Kwetu Film Institute in April 2018. Mobile phones will be given to each of the participants to document, edit and produce short films.

Partner Highlights: Sana Initiative

Laure Iyaga speaks to facilitators about sojourning, August 2018. Photo: Deus Kwizera

Thanks to Laure Iyaga, MAP is a peace building initiative in Rwanda that integrates mental health awareness and support for its participants.

In addition to offering workshops and counselling during MAP activities, Sana offers ongoing support to MAP youth and adult trainers.

Ms Iyaga stated: ‘The equality among trainers and trainees creates a safe space and is working to heal deep wounds from the lack of a support system experienced by many young people.’

Learn More about Sana Initiative and their work in a broader Rwandan context by following this link.

24 January Stakeholder Meeting

A young participant leads and activity during the youth camp, November: 2018. Photo Deus Kwizera

On 24 January 2019, the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) launched their role as co-investigator of Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) at a stakeholder meeting in Kigali, Rwanda attended by the Rwanda Education Board (REB), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Sports and Culture, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of ICT and Innovation and numerous distinguished guests. Mrs. Joan Umurungi from REB served as the guest of honour. Mrs. Umurungi commented on the importance of arts for peacebuilding and educational processes. Additionally, REB representatives noted their endorsement of MAP as a key partner and how MAP aligns with the vision of the Ministry of Education concerning the development of the competence based curriculum. MAP enhances peace values, public speaking, inclusive education and develops a society that assists with healing.

MINISPOC noted the importance of MAP to develop the creative industries nationally. Ministry representatives noted that MAP is practical, grassroots based, and brings a sense of ‘life’ in terms of conflict prevention and the promotion of dialogue through an arts-based approach. Speakers included: Dr. Eric Ndushabandi from IRDP; Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo from the College of Education, University of Rwanda; Dr. Samuel Rushworth from Aegis Trust; Mrs. Amy Barnecutt from A Partner in Education; Mr. Jeymo Mutinda from Music Mind Consult; Mr. Victor Ntezirembo from IRDP, Ms. Laure Iyaga from Sana Initiative, Dr. Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln and Kurtis Dennison, MAP Project Manager. Presentations and workshops were based on the use of arts with and for young people in peacebuilding initiatives.

The role of arts for peacebuilding initiatives has influenced major research and civil society organisations both nationally and internationally. Some of the benefits of arts-based approaches includes the opportunity to create innovative approaches for community dialogue alongside the development of skill building in the performing arts more generally.

Initial Research Findings from Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo

Young people participate in MAP activities at a Rwamagana Schoool, September 2018. Photo: Kurtis Dennison

Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo from the College of Education, University of Rwanda provided the following research findings based on interviews and focus groups with MAP youth and adult trainers, cultural artists, and stakeholders:

MAP keeps us awake in the classroom
Students reveal that by engaging in MAP activities amid a busy day with lessons, they are kept awake and do not feel sleepy. Given the introduction of the module system in advanced level in high schools (where a lesson can take up to 5 hours), it is important to keep students’ momentum.

MAP has enabled us to speak in public 
The vast majority of students admit that before engaging with MAP they could not stand in front of their peers and make an argument. MAP has empowered them with public speaking skills. Students who were shy in the classroom confess that they can now raise questions to the teacher.

MAP has raised my marks
Preliminary findings of this study show that MAP has improved the academic performance of students. Some say that before engaging with MAP they used to be lazy in the classroom. But after meeting MAP, they learn enthusiastically; they try to link what they learn with their daily life and this contributes greatly to their academic achievement.

MAP has allowed me to engage with my parents
Students tell that before engaging with MAP they were fearing their parents and were only receiving instructions. After participant in MAP, they have acquired skills to engage in a dialogue with their parents on different issues and come to a consensus.

I am attentive to what happens in my society   
The vast majority of students affirm that before engaging with MAP they were indifferent to fundamental problems of the Rwandan society. Students admit that after participating in MAP trainings, they are now awake to what happens around them.

After the training of trainers, we worked with our school children. They were motivated and developed skills. Among the teachers, we now have a drama team. We teachers are capable to train the children in drama. The impact of MAP in our schools is seen through what we are doing.

-Hassan Ngendahimana, Friends of the Children International School


Mobile Arts for Peace: Project Update May 2019

Mobile Arts for Peace: Project Update May 2019

This post is a rework of the May 2019 MAP newsletter.

Take a look at what the MAP team have been up to so far in 2019.

Drawing Inspiration from Young People

The artist, Ganza Daniella. Photo Hassan Ngendahimana.

The original image that Ganza drew on a chalkboard.
January, 2019. Photo: Kurtis Dennison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was on a field visit to Friends of the Children International School after the January Stakehold meeting where the identity of MAP would forever be immortalized in our new logo designed by Ganza Daniella and rendered by Sinclair Ashman of the University of Lincoln. The students, excited to be getting a visit from the MAP team, welcomed the visitors with songs and drawings. While there were many wonderful drawings on paper and on the chalkboard, one image stood out: a flower.

A flower wasn’t the first image the project team would immediately associate with peace, but for this project, it made so much sense. A flower has to grow, and when it grows, it opens up to show its beauty much like MAP helps young people open up and express themselves. This project works with many partners (or petals) who are all necessary to the success of the project; the more petals, the more bountiful the flower.  And through adaptation of cultural forms and creation of activities from Rwandan artists and teachers, the project is deeply rooted and cultivated by the people the project serves.

Ganza Daniella was thanked officially by the MAP facilitators at an award ceremony on April 27th.   Her design will now be used to brand the project as we expand through the provinces of Rwanda.

Project Manager Kurtis Dennison (IRDP), Principal Investigator of Connecting Memories Dr. Kirrily Pells (University College London), Ubwuzu Principal Investigator & Changing the Story Co-Investigator Dr. Ananda Breed (University of Lincoln) and Changing the Story Co-Investigator Dr. Eric Ndushabandi (IRDP) give Ganza a certificate and framed image of her design. April, 2019. Photo: Deus Kwizera.

Filmmaking for Peace? Eric Kabera’s Mobile Filmmaking Workshop

Eric Kabera holds his iPhone in a gimbal to demonstrate framing and movement in video making. April, 2019. Photo: Deus Kwizera.

Kwetu Film Institute and the Rwanda Cinema Center have been project partners of Mobile Arts for Peace since its inception. Since the beginning, an interactive workshop with world renowned film creator Eric Kabera has been planned. This April, this dream was finally realized.

Eric Kabera spent three days with the 16 MAP facilitators. Through exercises, the participants learned the basics of filmmaking including lighting, framing, storytelling, dialogue, mise en scène, and themes. The most impactful part of the workshop was the opportunity to hear the stories from Eric Kabera himself. Sharing a story of how he found inspiration once in a shoe, the most important lesson the facilitators learned was the need to be curious.

“I have learned that to make a film or a movie, you can have a plan and you can give the community strong story which can be interesting for them.” (-Sandrine, Rwamagana A)

Leonard, Dorcas, Reuben and Claude review footage at the Mobile Filmmaking Workshop. April, 2019. Photo: Deus Kwizera.

We think filmmaking can be an accessible tool for young people to share the stories that affect them to larger and mobile audiences.  With the growing status of technology and a phone being a device most people have access to, these tools can help us to to see the world through the eyes of young people. Because Rwanda is striving to emphasis their technological potential, we think this is a perfect location to start this work. By thinking about situations they encounter and themes they wish to explore, the young people will continue to develop their skills in filmmaking, peace building and dialogue.

This opportunity was just the start for the MAP participants. By the end of the workshop, each participant had created a fully realized short film using all the elements learned. Each school will receive an iPhone 6 to keep on site allowing them to document their MAP activities and make short films. The participants were also invited to apply to the Rwanda Cinema Center Film Festival in August.

“Before attending the filmmaking session, I spent many years asking myself how different people can take different [pictures], how some people take good [pictures] and some take bad [pictures]. I was curious to know the strategies. From the workshop, I was happy because my worries were answered. What I can say is that making a film or taking a video is not something you do once and stop. You must rehearse many times so it will stick in your mind and you will be familiar with it.” (Ngabbonziza, RLS)

See the film ‘Headphones’ created by Florence, Leonard, Sam and Assia:

 

Connecting Memories: a Participatory Action Research Project

Dr. Kirrily Pells demonstrates data collection as young people and adult facilitators plan how they will conduct their research project. April, 2019. Photo: Deus Kwizera.

Connective Memories (CM) is a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project working alongside MAP. It is a collaboration between University College London (UCL) Institute of Education, IRDP, Uyisenga N’Imanzi and MAP. CM is adapting and extending the MAP methodology to a PAR project for two purposes. First, to engage youth and adult MAP facilitators in a co-designed PAR project on the broad theme of “memories” with the intention of fostering space for intergenerational dialogue through the creative arts. Second, to train youth and adult facilitators in PAR so that they have the skills to research and evaluate the impact of the MAP clubs in their schools.

Ms. Laure Iyaga (Sana Initiative) and Mr. Chaste Uwihoreye (Uyisenga Ni Imanzi) observe youth participation to help with group dynamics and mental health support. April, 2019. Photo: Deus Kwizera.

The first workshops was held training 10 youth and 6 adults in PAR and co-desiging a research project on sharing “memories” or “isangizanyankuru”. We were then joined by another 20 young people from Uyisenga N’Imanzi and the groups of young people worked together to create performances based on issues affecting youth in their communities. On the final day the performances were shared with community members and dialogues facilitated by IRDP with adults and youth. This project also started the integration of community dialogues, a project long held by IRDP, in to the MAP methodology. The project will continue over the next few months as we work with the young researchers to analyse the data and we look forward to sharing the findings with you soon!

MAP Facilitator Leonard leads youth from Uyisena Ni Imanzi through the activity Kabish Kaboo. April, 2019. Photo: Kurtis Dennison.

Understanding the Project Structure: Co-Investigators and researchers attend the Network Plus meeting in Cambodia.

MAP Participants play Dr. Tangles, which is a good visual representation of a way a network plus project works. April, 2019. Photo: Deus Kwizera.

MAP was started as part of a Network Plus project called Changing the Story. This project was funded by a Global Challenges Research Fund grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council lead by Dr. Paul Cooke from the University of Leeds.  A Network Plus project works by first funding an initial pilot project, in our case Mobile Arts for Peace, working with researchers in both the UK and in Rwanda.  Dr. Ananda Breed serves as the UK based Co-Investigator of the Rwanda Strand of this project. Hope Azeda served as the Rwanda based Phase One Co-Investigator while Dr. Eric Ndushabandi serves as the current Phase Two Co-Investigator. The goal of the pilot was to link together other researchers, artists and CSO’s working toward similar goals with an overarching theme of creating safe and inclusive participatory spaces for young people.  We did this through working with Kwetu, Mashirika, Niyo, Future Vision Acrobats, Sana Initiative, REB, MindLeaps, Hope and Homes for Children, and other organisations that supported phase one activities including the training of teachers and creation of drama clubs.

Dr. Eric Ndushabandi (left) joins other researchers and CTS project team including Dr. Paul Cooke (right) in Cambodia. March, 2019. Photo: Unknown.

The Network Plus project then supported new project ideas that were building off original phase one projects and findings, in our case Connecting Memories.  Dr. Kirrily Pells, the UK based researcher, and Dr. Chaste Uwihoreye, the Rwanda based researcher, developed the project together from the work MAP accomplished in phase one.  Their project was taking our initial findings and furthering the research, which connected MAP with new CSO’s and supported the work we hope to continue accomplishing.  The major benefit so far of phase two has been to further expand on the role of psycho-social support and to help to integrate the work project partners are doing in to the original MAP structure.

MAP has been incredibly lucky to be partners with the Institute of Research for Dialogue and Peace for phase two. Eric Ndushabandi has approached MAP with such enthusiasm, and the project is helping to support initiatives within the organization steering future peace building projects to include psycho-social support. Representing Rwanda, Eric, Dr. Chaste Uwihoreye and Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo joined the Changing the Story team in Cambodia to learn more about CTS and share about MAP and their research.

During this time and separate from the original Changing the Story project structure, MAP was awarded three grants (two from the University of Lincoln and one from the Arts and Humanities Research Council) totaling £102,000 to continue the phase one goals and expand throughout the country of Rwanda. Dr. Ananda Breed serves as Principal Investigator of this follow up project which is titled “Ubwuzu: Shaping the Rwandan National Curriculum through the Arts”.

Dr. Eric Ndushabandi presents about Mobile Arts for Peace in Cambodia.
March, 2019. Photo: Unknown.

Changing the Story is going in to phase three to fund larger scale research projects that build off the work and continue the mission of these original two phases. The meeting in Cambodia was a time for all of these researchers to gather and share, meeting people who can help them achieve goals in their own countries and research.  With each phase, new project partners are added creating a global network of people and organisations working toward common goals. Preparations are underway for a similar meeting to be held in Kigali, January 2020. More project information is available at https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk.

Mobile Arts for Peace is continuing to apply for grants and seeks project partners to continue the work of acomplished thus far. As we noted in our previous newsletter, MAP will be expanding to the other four provinces with a target to impact 300 adult trainers and 2,500 young people.

Transforming Trauma: Reimaging the Future through Arts in Rwanda and South Africa

Attendees of the colloquium gather in Kigali to share research and projects.
April, 2019. Photo: Emmanuel Tuyizere.

 

Dr. Eric Ndushabandi represents IRDP and Dr. Pumla Godobo-Madikizela represented Stellenbosch University at the signing of the partnership MOU. Photo: Emmanuel Tuyizere. April, 2019

A colloquium between the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace and the University of Stellenbosch was recently held at the IRDP Peace Center in the days leading up to Kwibuka 25.  This colloquium reflected on the use of arts as a tool to heal trauma.  Each country represented had its own history of trauma that could be explored. Speakers from South Africa reflected on remaining race divisions in artistic spaces while speakers from Rwanda shared initiatives such as MAP or Arts for Peace dialogues that have been used to create unity since the Genocide Against the Tutsi.

The colloquium included field visits to Bugesera to observe an IRDP community dialogue, to Rwamagana to observe a MAP club, a symposium in Kigali for researchers to share work, a publication from the University of Stellenbosch and an official partnership with IRDP for the continuation of work around these topics.

Making connections: reflections on the use of proverbs in research and practice

Making connections: reflections on the use of proverbs in research and practice

This post was originally published via Changing the Story on 19th March 2020. Changing the Story is an AHRC GCRF project which asks how the arts, heritage and human rights education can support youth-centred approach to civil society building in post-conflict settings across the world. The development of the MAP project was a major output of Changing the Story and the two projects continue to work closely together. Find out more about Changing the Story and see the original post here: https://changingthestory.leeds.ac.uk 

Written by Chaste Uwihoreye and Kirrily Pells, in collaboration with Eric Ndushabandi and Ananda Breed.

Credit: Chaste Uhiworeye

A common trope oft repeated in the wake of horrific events is that the ensuing pain is inexpressible or that certain stories cannot be told. In the case of Rwanda following the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi which saw between 800,000 and a million people killed in the space of 100 days, similar assumptions are also frequently deployed. One of us (Kirrily) recalls on her first visits to the country, being told mainly by other ‘outsiders’, but also by some Rwandans, that “Rwandans don’t talk”. However, as collaborator Chaste, a psychologist and Country Director of Uyisenga Ni Imanzi observes through his own work: Rwandans are talking all the time. Numerous Rwandan proverbs allude to the ways in which it is said that Rwandans may share information either briefly or even through silence and indeed it is those who do not understand what is being conveyed that say Rwandans do not talk. For example, “siko kumva, ubwira uwumva ntavunika” roughly translating as ‘to speak a lot does not make for more understanding’ or “ucira injiji amarenga amara ibinonko” meaning that you can use many gestures to talk with someone but if they are not aware of these gestures, you end up being tired. This instead challenges us as researchers and practitioners to better attend to the multiple ways in which people express their stories and crucially challenges us on how we might listen.  Within our project Connective Memories: intergenerational expressions in contemporary Rwanda, on which we collaborate with Dr Eric Ndushabandi from the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace and Professor Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln, we are working together with 10 young people and 6 adults as co-researchers on a participatory action research (PAR) project on the theme of isangizanyankuru. Isangizanyankuru was chosen by the group as a Kinyarwandan concept akin to memory but avoiding the more direct translation Kwibuka (meaning to remember) which is closely associated with the official commemoration of the Genocide. Participants noted that isangizanyankuru encompassed a sense of connection, between the individual and the collective and between past, present and future, with an emphasis on sharing through multiple modes of expression. Connective Memories works in collaboration with Mobile Arts for Arts to adapt arts-based methods to research.

One of the research questions for the project created by the co-researchers speaks to these concerns on listening to multiple forms of expression and asks ‘how do we respect the memories of others?’ In exploring this question, one emerging finding is the value and significance of proverbs both as a means of expressing one’s story and in listening to one another. In Rwanda, proverbs (imigani in Kinyarwanda) are “often used to express what a person has seen, heard and experienced at the level of emotions, feelings and states of mind, as well as to indicate to someone that they have been understood” (Bagilishya, 2000). As a Rwandan proverb states: “akari kumutima gasesekara ku munwa” meaning what you believe, think and feel has to be expressed externally by talking, actions, behaviours and attitudes. The Kinyarwanda word imigani therefore expresses the notion of a conversation or a dialogue, attempting to elicit “a mode of expression used to recognize, confirm and participate in what the other is living on an emotional level” (Bagilishya, 2000). In this sense, connectivity is at the heart of both isangizanyankuru and imigani so making the latter an interesting mode through which to explore the former. This approach really resonated with research participants. In an end of day reflective exercise where participants were asked which moment from the day they were going to take away with them, many repeated one of the proverbs that had been shared during the day and which had spoken to them.

Rwandan proverbs with their rich metaphorical language drawing on a rich repertoire of cultural symbolism therefore are an important mode of expression through which it is possible to express one’s own story or memories. During story circle, part of the Mobile Arts for Peace methodology, which the team drew upon for the Isangizanyankuru project, participants are asked to share a story which illustrated a conflict in the community which they would like to resolve. Participants’ memories and stories are often peppered with proverbs as a means of conveying multiple truths, such as “utaganiriye na se ntamenya icyosekuru yasize avuze” meaning when you do not talk with your father, you cannot know what your grandfather said before dying. This can be interpreted literally in the sense of regret at lack of family communication, but takes on particular significance in the Rwandan context and the often near absence of entire generations within families as a consequence of genocide.  We have also used proverbs to help frame sessions focused on the sharing of memories and story. Proverbs such as “Ikinu kibi kibaho ni ukubwira utakumva” meaning something that is hurtful is to talk to someone who is not interested or “kubwira utakumva ni nko guta inyuma y’umusozi wa huye” meaning to speak to someone who is not interested is like the rain in Huye forest.

We have observed that proverbs facilitate a potentially transformatory encounter. Proverbs remind us that the person telling the story is the expert of their own life: “Ntiribara umukuru nk’umuto waribonye” (means that adults cannot explain better an event than the young person who has experienced it) is particularly pertinent for a project like Changing the Story, which aims to challenge adult-child power relations and foreground the stories of young people. The expression of a proverb after a story has been told, is a means of expressing an appropriate emotion, so honouring the person and the story – respecting the memories of others, to answer the question posed by the young people. This is important whether in the context of a research interview or therapeutic practice. As well as being an object of research therefore, we suggest that proverbs may be a way to research, as a mode of communication, as a way to build trust and empathy and as a means of exploring the multiple layers of experience: “Umugani Ugana Akariho” – the proverb reflects reality.