Case Study: Peace Messengers & Peace Guardians in Cote d'Ivoire
InsightShare was commissioned by UNICEF to undertake a participatory evaluation of its peace building programme implemented by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) in a number of selected local high schools and groups of out of school youth based in and around Daloa in Côte d'Ivoire. Two separate, supportive interventions were employed by UNICEF and SFCG to counter the violence in these schools.
- Peace messengers clubs is a student-led mechanism created by the Ministry of National Education (MOE) upon a ministerial decree in 2011 for the prevention and resolution of conflict and the promotion of peace in schools. As a school based activity the clubs work from the inside with the learners, and also in the wider community to promote peace.
- Peace guardians work mainly from the outside. Members of these clubs are either high school students, out of school adolescents and youth or former students' union representatives. They are young people, mainly males, who are former perpetrators of violence in schools who are now working as activators for peace.
This evaluation was primarily undertaken to benefit UNICEF and SFCG, to give them some critical insights into what value their joint intervention in Daloa has yielded to assist them in sharing and carrying the learning forwards. In addition the Ministry of Education and their partners have an interest in this evaluation. They are concerned by the regular disturbances caused by the gangs or syndicates (students and teacher strikes) leading the schools to shut down for days. They recognize this as a major risk for Cote D'Ivoire's education system and as such they wish to better understand the profiles of the young people involved; their motivations, hopes and concerns.
This evaluation and the associated videos hope therefore to address this and to look more closely at this programme which works with youth, who were socialized in violence, to help them play a positive role in society and become promoters of peace. This participatory evaluation focuses on understanding what factors had contributed towards containing the violence within schools in Daloa, increasing attendance and reconstructing a supportive learning environment. The programme, working from both ends of the problem, from the inside with peace clubs and from the outside working with Peace Guardians, was successful in countering the violence and victimization happening in the schools that were sampled, in fact the situation has been turned around and has had a positive spillover in terms of increased self-worth and dignity of the participants.
The programme has been successful in restoring order in the schools where it has been tested. This has been verified both by the educators and the learners. During the stakeholder screening a number of principals said they could relax knowing that when they returned to their school after the event they would find learning happening and nothing broken. In the past they were unable to do this. A number of stories referred to the role educators played in persistently pursuing learners to join peace clubs, 6 stories identified educators as being the central reason for personal change. 10 stories attributed the change to fellow student's canvasing and sensitizing effort. 5 stories refer to receiving forgiveness as being the main factor that enabled them to make a change. Beneficiaries of the programme have testified to radical change in their behavior and world view, they are now motivated by a firm desire for peace and a willingness to change that moves them to positive action, this is specifically true for Peace Messengers.
- Strategies to reinforce the capacity of beneficiaries.Peace Guardians need to strengthen and expand their methods for containing and confronting violence.
- Strategies to inform project management and participation.This is the first year of work with this out of school "hard to reach" group of youth who were socialized into violence and power games. Rivalries and divisions can still erupt at any moment within the group and this delicate balance has been navigated skillfully by the partners throughout the programme.
- Strategies to inform programme succession and scale.Building a structure for succession that is constructed with and by the Peace messengers and the Peace Guardians that gives them a voice and a say in the design and ongoing implementation of the strategy as it adapts to the future shift in the development climate within Côte d'Ivoire.
- Trainer recommendations.