Thanks to the tireless efforts of Rebecca Bollands, Deputy Headteacher at Earlsdon Primary School and member of Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, ten Coventry students are in Japan attending UNESCO’s Partner Schools 70th Anniversary International Peace Conference.
They will work with students from around the world and share information about the important peace and reconciliation work that takes place in Coventry. Sponsors including Coventry City Council, Coventry Rotary Club, the Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, the Daiwa Foundation and the Saskawa Foundation.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) contributes to peace and security by promoting international cooperation in education, sciences, culture, communication and information. It promotes knowledge-sharing and the free flow of ideas to accelerate mutual understanding and increasing knowledge of each other’s lives.
The Peace Conference in Japan will be organised by the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) to celebrate its 70th anniversary. ASPnet connects more than 12,000 schools in 182 countries around a common goal to build peace in the minds of children and young people. Through concrete actions member schools promote the ideals of UNESCO valuing rights and dignity, gender equality, social progress, freedom, justice and democracy, respect for diversity and international solidarity. The Network operates at international and national levels with three clear priorities: education for sustainable development, global citizenship education and inter-cultural and heritage learning.
Earlsdon Primary School is a member of ASPnet and one of Coventry’s leading schools for peace initiatives. It was the first school in the city to be awarded the Coventry Peace Award and it has national School of Sanctuary Status. Additionally, the school has recently been awarded the full British Council International School Award for work to link pupils around the world.
The Director of UNESCO partner schools in the UK approached Rebecca to invite five pupils from Earlsdon Primary School to represent UK schools at the Peace Conference in Japan. After discussion it was agreed to also take five additional pupils from Finham Park 2 Secondary School to enable a representation from both the primary and secondary phases. Finham Park 2 works closely with Earlsdon Primary School on a number of international projects.
Rebecca has demonstrated a strong commitment to peace education and sits on the Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation. She has also had many years of building Japanese education in Coventry and led on many local initiatives including a pupil Japan conference for over 25 schools; the Flame of Friendship (40 schools) which mirrored the torch relay in Japan before the Tokyo Olympic Games; the creation and installation of the Japanese Peace Garden in the War Memorial Park; and a visit to Japan for primary school pupils from five Coventry schools in 2019.
Rebecca has also worked on options to increase wider school participation in the event. This includes an offer from Oxford University to lead ceramics workshops for up to 600 pupils, provide opportunities for pupils and families to visit their kilns situated in Oxford University’s 1,000 acre ecological research estate and offer free bespoke packages for participating Coventry schools to take part in workshops at Oxford colleges.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be £25,000. Finham Park 2 and Earlsdon Primary Schools worked together to raise funds to support the project, and a peace organisation in Nottingham have contributed £4,500. Coventry City Council approved a grant of £10,000 from the Policy Contingency budget. The public report which led the Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources to approve this grant can be read here.
See updates at https://twitter.com/EarlsdonPrimary