We are in the midst of a global violence epidemic. There are 875 million light weapons in circulation today, and three-quarters of them are in the hands of civilians. A 15-year-old boy in Nyanga, South Africa, has a 1 in 20 chance of being shot dead before turning 35. A woman in Istanbul has a 1 in 2 chance of being beaten by her husband. A child in the Democratic Republic of Congo has 1 in 3 chance of being conscripted into armed forces or militia groups as a child soldier or sex slave. 

Violence pervades societies, threatening human rights, national security, the environment and the quality of global progress. Violent responses to conflict are not inevitable; with concerted commitment and holistic approaches to revising the status quo, they are preventable.  By committing to important initiatives like truth commissions and war crimes trials, the global community has demonstrated an increased interest in addressing violence with retrospective approaches. It is time to prioritize prevention, so that in addition to reckoning with the past, we give children the skills to create a more peaceful future.

Effective prevention mechanisms must tackle the roots of entrenched societal problems, and youth education is lauded as one that holds promise. However, gaps in current peace education initiatives abound:

·      Existing programs are limited in their global reach.

·      Peace curricula are offered primarily in high schools and universities.

·      Most programs focus on historical content and lack skill-building.

·      Programs often fail to generate local ownership by imposing curricula developed outside the region.

Increased access to primary education helps break the traps of poverty, hunger, marginalization, and conflict plaguing so many communities worldwide. But the basic skills and knowledge of standard education do not go far enough, particularly in environments characterized by chronic instability and war. We bring the power of education to a higher standard. With our curriculum, developed in collaboration with local communities, children are primed to counteract the de-humanizing effects of discrimination, armed conflict and ethnic polarization. They learn to communicate effectively in the face of disagreement and diversity, and cultivate a commitment to peaceful rather than violent solutions to difficult problems. Without a major global shift in curricula for children in their most impressionable years of development, we cannot hope to foster peaceful mindsets and interrupt cycles of violence.