The Anti-Violence Movement in collaboration with the United Nations Peace Building in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) and the Centre for Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA), over the weekend, appointed students from twenty secondary schools in Freetown to serve as Ambassadors of Peace in their respective schools. Over two hundred representatives from various secondary schools across the country were assembled at the British Council Hall on Friday past, in a one day peace and tolerance workshop. Topics such as Peace and Conflict Resolution and Youths and Non-Violence towards the 2012 Elections, were discussed at the forum.
It should be noted that, violence in all forms has become a major concern for various stakeholders in Sierra Leone to an extent that government, parents, school authorities and other concerned citizens have been joined by the International Community to find a lasting solution to this unwelcomed development among young people in the country.
Addressing the gathering, Head of the National Youth Commission, Commissioner Anthony Koroma, commended the organizers for establishing Anti Violence Clubs in various secondary schools in the country. He said it is good to bring various members together to map out strategies in ensuring a violence free society. Commissioner Koroma said as peace ambassadors, the students have the mandate to preach non-violence at community levels. This, he said was important as, unfortunately, he went on, most young people of today, are involved in perpetrating violence in the society, adding that, they are also seen as very much unserious in their academic life. “It is time for school-going pupils to get themselves involved in the non-violence campaign” said Commissioner Koroma, adding; “this will help to change the negative perception of young people in this country”. He used the forum to encourage the newly appointed peace ambassadors to copy good examples in society especially in performing their tasks. Mr. Bernard Conteh of the Anti-Violence Movement, also lauded the organizers for maintaining what he referred to as a very fruitful relationship between the institutions. He said having realized that the country is bracing up for another democratic election in November this year, his organization, Anti-Violence Movement, thought it fit to bring young people to the limelight and engage them on non-violence issues.The participating schools, he said, will soon be engaged in quiz competitions and football gala tournaments, whilst those referred to as ghetto youths, will be engaged in non-violence forums. He also used the forum to thank the UN for coming to the aid of young people, with the aim of instilling non-violence strategies that will ensure peaceful elections in Sierra Leone.
UNIPSIL’s Mr. Patrick Buse also congratulated the participants for volunteering to become peace ambassadors in the country.
This, he said, will go a very long way, especially at a time like this when every Sierra Leonean is hoping for a free, fair and violence free election.
“This is your country and you have a great role to play in making it violence free,” he admonished participants, whilst reiterating that, no country with violence can prosper.
He called on the participants to treat non-violence issues with all seriousness and promised UN’s continued collaboration towards the fight against all forms of violence in Sierra Leone.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.