A 30-year-old Zila-Parishad school teacher in Maharashtra’s Solapur has a different mission for students–nurturing them into peace soldiers and build a global army for spreading the message. Ranjith Disale, who teaches students of class 3 and 4, has launched a global peace-building programme, an idea which he presented before educators across the globe and was awarded for at Microsoft’s Education Exchange event in Paris in April.
Disale, who comes from a family of teachers has formulated a six-week long programme for school students, to prepare them to achieve the United Nations sustainable development goals on peace to be achieved by 2030 by focusing on creating peaceful, justiciable and strong institutions in the world.
The programme with over 11,000 participants from 250 schools so far, connects the students using Skype and other technological platforms to conduct various activities and interactions before awarding them as “peace soldiers”.
“I plan to target at least 50,000 students by 2030. The countries I am focusing on are India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Palestine, Iraq, United States and North Korea which are ranked low on the Global Peace Index. These eight countries alone spend around USD 124 million to engage in conflict. If the countries can afford to pay this much for conflict, peace is way cheaper,” Disale told PTI.
“The participating group of students sent a proposal to me through their teacher who would take the responsibility of conducting the programme for them. In the first week, the student is allotted a peace buddy from a different country and the two are supposed to interact with each other and engage in meaningful conversations,” he added.
In the second and third week, the students prepare presentations on why the two countries are fighting and similarities and differences between the two countries. The next week involves reading extracts from “Hit refresh” the autobiography of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and in the fifth week the students talk about what according to them can contribute to bringing peace in their respective and other countries.
“In the concluding week, the students have to give a commitment as to how they will become peaceful citizens of the world. While the project can be tailored to suit countries and context, it aims at creating an army of peace soldiers. Students from two nations that are at loggerheads end up interacting with each other on a positive note.
“It is important to imbibe peace among school students because they are very young. We don’t know they will grow up to become engineers or politicians but we can ensure they grow up to become peace loving citizens,” he added.
Disale, who has been trained as part of the Educator Outreach Programme by Microsoft, had earlier connected students from more than 22 countries and taken them on three virtual field trips.
A “virtual field trip” is a way to educate students by taking them on various adventures through a virtual platform. Using Skype, the educator connects to classrooms across the world and takes students on a live tour to various points of interest around the world.
The programme gives students a chance to meet museum tour guides, explorers, marine biologists, zoologists, and scientists, without leaving their classrooms, through a live virtual platform.