From left to right: Rosa Jimenez & Tomás del Arco from Spanish PEP Team; Elena López & Alberto Guerrero from the Spanish Federation of UNESCO Centres

Over the last year, the Peace Education Program (PEP) has received a very good reception in Spain, marked by collaboration agreements that build off of the one signed in early 2018 by the Malaga Centre Education, Culture and Peace, Club Malaga for UNESCO. This organization encourages values like tolerance, reconciliation, and respect for human rights, and The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) has provided its innovative peace education workshops to support these objectives.

Elena López accepting the award for peace education efforts at prisons in Malaga.

After signing a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2018, the Malaga UNESCO Club offered a third PEP course at the new Archidona prison. The warden requested the program after hearing about how it improved inmate behavior at other prisons. In September, the Secretary General for Penitentiary Institutions from the Ministry of Interior gave Archidona an award for helping inmates through PEP.

In November, Madrid Town Hall, in collaboration with Paris Town Hall and other related entities, created an initiative called “Peace Capital” to face the challenges of urban violence. In this context, PEP was presented as part of the solution at the 2nd World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace. The Spanish PEP team invited the President of the Spanish Federation of UNESCO Centres, Alberto Guerrero, and the Vice President, Elena López Valcárcel, who attended the event with pleasure.

Mr. Guerrero presented the Objectives for Sustainable Development (OSD). “In September 2015, over 150 heads of state and government leaders attended the historic Sustainable Development Summit, where the 2030 agenda was approved. This agenda contains 17 objectives to apply globally and will guide the country’s efforts to attain a sustainable world in 2030,” he explained.

Ms. Lopez shared how PEP works in complement to the objectives, and shared her positive experience with the program at UNESCO Malaga Club. “To include this educational program in our organization has been a success, as it fulfills some of the objectives on the U.N. 2030 plan: number 4 on Education, number 16 on Peace and number 17 regarding the Alliance to achieve objectives. We have witnessed a change in participants, in prisons as well as among domestic violence victims. The gratefulness of each one of them has been a common note,” she said. “This program complements the objectives that our UNESCO Club pursues regarding human rights, as it dignifies the person and brings a feeling of hope.”

The event ended with two TPRF videos that show how PEP is being used as part of the Colombian peace process.

In late 2018, the Malaga UNESCO Club organized a PEP course at the Awakening Without Violence Association, which helps victims of domestic violence. As the course ended, the journalist Guillermo Prieto, who acted as facilitator, emphasized the necessity of programs that help cultivate peaceful coexistence between family members and diverse peoples. “Everything you have learned here, put it into practice every day,” he said. “When you wake up and go to bed at night, when you talk to your children, your grand children, remember the 10 themes of the PEP workshops.”

Representatives of the Awakening Without Violence Association

PEP growth continues, and in January, the UNESCO Malaga Club reached out to the Proyecto Hombre Foundation, an organization that helps people recover from addictions. Groups healing from substance abuse have already reported great benefits from PEP at Las Palmas Centre and other facilities across the world. Proyecto Hombre has many centres in different locations throughout Spain.

“We hope to continue weaving alliances with other entities in 2019. The participants, representing civil organizations and government entities, have remained really satisfied with the results,” says Ms. Lopez. “I invite other organizations to work for peace and to boost the values included in the course, which speak to the inherent strengths of human beings.”

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