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Second International Meeting on Peace Culture in El Salvador

On October 2-5, 2018, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) co-organized the Second International Meeting on Peace Culture: Education, Memory and Human Rights in San Salvador alongside the Salvadoran Ministry of Education and the Instituto Nacional de Formación Docente (INFOD – National Institute for Teacher Training). The event welcomed more than 100 international and Salvadoran participants for discussions and reflections on the relationship between education, memory, and human rights as well as considerations related to social science curricular reform efforts currently underway in El Salvador. The event also marked the first time that the Educational Toolkit on Citizenship, Memory and Peace Culture in El Salvador, the result of a two-year collaboration between AIPR and El Salvador’s National Office of the Ombudsman and Ministry of Education, was presented to the country’s educational community.

The seminar was opened with remarks by Mr. Carlos Mauricio Canjura Linares, Minister of Education of El Salvador, Mr. Carlos Rodríguez Rivas, Coordinator of INFOD, and Dr. Clara Ramírez Barat, Director of the Educational Policies Program at AIPR. Over the course of the event, a variety of modules and panels featuring both Salvadoran officials from national institutions and international experts from across Latin America and Spain were convened to cover themes related to citizenship education, memory, and human rights. These modules promoted the objectives of the event, which urged participants to reflect on the construction of collective memory in the public space, on different educational methodologies that have been developed to promote inclusion, respect for diversity, and dialogue, and on the advances that the Salvadoran Ministry of Education has made regarding the teaching of memory and human rights in recent years. As a result, the concepts and recommendations emerging from these reflective discussions served to strengthen the ongoing revision of the national social science curricula.

During the event, Dr. Ramírez Barat and Dr. Georgina Hernández – one of AIPR’s consultants for the Toolkit project – participated in a panel on the pedagogy of memory, covering both international experiences and working methodologies. They were accompanied by experts from both the Salvadoran and Argentinian Ministries of Education, and Mexico’s Museum of Memory and Tolerance. In this space, Dr. Ramírez officially presented the Educational Toolkit on Citizenship, Memory and Peace Culture to the education community of El Salvador. Representing the two-year collaborative effort between AIPR and the Salvadoran Office of the Ombudsman and Ministry of Education, the Educational Toolkit provides an innovative and participative methodological framework for promoting critical reflection about the recent past within the El Salvador’s educational system.

The resource, comprised of a series of 3 booklets, will be printed for distribution to educators around the country and will also be made available for download online. AIPR and its institutional partners are currently working to raise awareness regarding the Educational Toolkit and train teachers on its use. Following the International Meeting, several training workshops were organized across the country, including in the cities of San Salvador, Santa Ana, Chalatenango and Perquín. As a part of these follow-up activities, Dr. Ramírez Barat and Dr. Hernández were joined by Dr. Jesús Izquierdo, a History Professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and 15 social science teachers for a trip to Morazán to visit the memorial site of the Massacre of El Mozote, which commemorates the assassination of more than 800 civilians by the military in December of 1981, during the Salvadoran Civil War. The group also made a study visit to the Revolution Museum located in Perquín.

Reflecting on the event, Dr. Ramírez Barat explains:

This was an incredible opportunity to further engage on issues of memory, education and human rights with a variety of actors in El Salvador, and to keep advocating for the inclusion of these topics in the national curricula. Additionally, the knowledge brought by international participants helped to strengthen the work that has been done in El Salvador thus far and created an effective space for learning and an exchange of a wide range of experiences. For the Educational Policies Program at AIPR, being able to present the first version of the Toolkit in this event, in anticipation of the release of the final product of a two-year long process, was an especially important and motivating moment.