Strong support for IMAGINE Project at stakeholders' meeting
NICOSIA, 2 October 2017 - As part of efforts to support peace building and peace education in Cyprus, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in Cyprus, Ms. Elizabeth Spehar, yesterday attended a stakeholders’ meeting on the IMAGINE Project, an initiative implemented by the Association for Historical Dialogue & Research (AHDR) and the Home For Cooperation.
Funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and supported by the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP),the IMAGINE Project is based on a holistic understanding of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, and aims to increase contact and cooperation between students of the two communities in Cyprus. Among other things, the Project aims to tackle racism, discrimination and xenophobia, while promoting equality and tolerance.
In attendance at the stakeholders’ meeting, held at the Home for Cooperation in the buffer zone, were the Coordinators of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, Mr. Michalinos Zembylas and Ms Meltem Onurkan Samani, the German Ambassador to Cyprus, H.E. Mr. Franz Josef Kremp, Mr. Loizos Loukaidis, coordinator of the IMAGINE Project, officials from AHDR, the Home for Cooperation, PeacePlayers International - Cyprus, UNFICYP and a number of education-focused trade unions from both communities.
In her remarks, SRSG Spehar congratulated the heads of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education for their commitment to the Project, as well as AHDR and the Home for Cooperation for implementing it and ensuring high-level support from both sides. She also expressed her appreciation to Germany for its support of this important initiative.
SRSG Spehar further emphasized the importance UNFICYP places on the IMAGINE Project and committed the Mission’s continued support for it.
“Education can be a real game changer in how young people perceive each other and their future,” she added.
Other speakers highlighted the need for increased contact and cooperation between children from both communities, as well as the fact that developing the Project was not an easy task, but each step forward brought the island closer to an island-wide culture of peace and non-violence.
The pilot phase of the IMAGINE project was successfully completed in June 2017. It was implemented in two stages: in the first stage, experienced trainers visited the participating groups of students in both communities to facilitate activities that dealt with stereotypes, extremism and intolerance and prepared them for bi-communal contact at the H4C. In the second stage, groups of students from the two communities were paired and met in the buffer zone where they participated in either peace education workshops with the AHDR or sports activities with PeacePlayers International. The project will continue in the current school year (2017-2018) to include more primary and secondary school students from the two educational systems.