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       We tend to think of developing countries as “far away places.”  This is even truer in the case of African countries.  One only imagines lions and giraffes, and the faces of the people in these countries do not come to mind.  Is it natural that we do not know Africa?  Do we not try to know it?  Through what kind of education might we connect Mozambique, a country in southeastern Africa, and learning for the purpose of promoting international understanding in Japan?  This very thing was accomplished through a collaborative design involving the integrated studies period that began with the encounter between Mr. Kazuhiro Fujiwara, a teacher at Aratama Elementary School, and a nonprofit organisation.  With “ESD” as a keyword, what learning content and methods of practice can launch a new direction for understanding developing countries?


The Origin was Matsuyama City’s “Peace Tellers”
    In Matsuyama City, a project called “Peace Tellers” was begun in 2002.  In order to communicate the tragedy of war and the importance of peace, people who had experienced war and others connected with nonprofit organisations registered and were sent out to elementary and junior high schools as speakers.  Aratama Elementary School’s ongoing education involving the integrated studies period began with these guest speakers.
    Mr. Fujiwara held a preparatory session for his upcoming lesson, telling students who had just completed a field trip to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to expect a presentation from a speaker about the fire-bombing of Matsuyama during World War II.  However, the non-profit organisation selected to speak to the school, Ehime Global Network, proposed a plan involving a talk about peace activities in Mozambique with a connection to education for international understanding.  It was an “ESD Learning Plan” weaving together study and experiential opportunities with “feeling the reality.”  The nonprofit representative said: “If it’s a mismatch, I can arrange to exchange the speaker for the person with war experience, but what do you think?”  The nonprofit representative was resigned to the fact that the school might need to withdraw from the plan.  However, Mr. Fujiwara decided to take up the challenge of a study plan incorporating an ESD perspective, and looked forward to the development of a new learning unit. The school’s integrated studies and learning to promote international understanding up until that point had involved such things as interaction with exchange students and one-time events—much of which fit a set pattern.  Mr. Fujiwara felt a limit to the possibilities for deepening learning and, fortunately, he had been looking for a more effective learning method.


A Nonprofit and the School Share Common Values—“Let’s Do It!”
    In May 2007, joint work began between teachers at Aratama Elementary School and Ehime Global Network to develop a continuous programme of learning. The foundation of the ESD learning was established as “peace activities in Mozambique,” and the group decided on a year-long plan.  A door connecting to children’s understanding of peace and other countries (and understanding of developing countries) opened.
    Both sides shared the common values that it was important to have a sequence in the learning--just as continuity holds an important weight in nonprofit activities, that it was important to enable the students to make use of their learning through their own autonomous actions, and that they should make learning about the case of Mozambique “real” and accompanied by a sense of concreteness.
    “Let’s try it.  We’re counting on you.”  A year-long collaborative plan was a first-time experiment for both sides, and the excitement of expectations pushed the project leaders forward.


Children in Mozambique participating in learning


We Are All Human Beings.  Even So, Why Are We This Different?
  
  In the world, there are 120 million people who earn less than a dollar a day and are considered to be among the ranks of the extremely poor.  At the same time, if one looks at the planet as a whole, there is excess food.  With this as context, the British NGO Oxfam International developed a workshop called “The Hunger Banquet.”  It is an experiential programme in which participants are divided by lottery into the three categories of upper-class, middle class and low-income class, and by eating food (or a comparable experience) at their class level, they feel inequality and think about what actions they can take.
    The lesson content combining the hunger banquet and education about the current reality of life in Mozambique depicted the reality of a class-based society and North-South issues, and enabled children to realise that one can’t just simply call a situation without war “peace.”  In Mozambique, which has a sad history of war that gave rise to child soldiers, there are many children who cannot receive enough education and there are many who must walk more than ten kilometres to go to school.  The existence of structural violence differs from the direct violence of war and is difficult to see.

 
The "Hunger Banquet"
through which children experience the global gap between rich and poor. In the rich group,there are many to eat.
  There is only this dirty water. The "poor" group discussed:"How can we survive?"


I Think There Are Two Kinds of Peace.  One Is Getting Rid of the Gap Between Rich and Poor.  The Other Is When People Connect and Have Peace in Their Hearts Expressed Through Smiling Faces.  (from a child’s written reflection on the lessons)
    Children’s consciousness increased with each workshop, and the idea of exploring peace from the alternative viewpoints of poverty and development germinated.  Also, through the project “Transforming Arms into Ploughshares” supported by the partner nonprofit organisation, students turned their eyes to the problem of abandoned bicycles.  “Why are there bicycles that are cast aside and thrown out?”  This question connected to the fifth-graders’ study of environmental issues, and they felt reality rise to the surface.  The children nodded to themselves as they realised that a “reality that shouldn’t be” was right under their own noses.  “I will definitely take care of bicycles my whole life.”  “Now when I buy things, I will consider whether I really need them and get rid of waste.  If I buy them, I will use them carefully.”  The children who had become able to express their wills clearly were quite serious.

Learning and Practice Spreads to the Community
   The school and the non-profit organisation also became closer.  When the expansion of the children’s awareness became evident, the partnership was able to grow based on mutual understanding of each person’s position and role.  Of course, it is hardly necessary to state the importance of discussions with and reports being made to the principal, the lead teacher for the grade, the board of education, and university professors affiliated with the project.  This is because ESD is something that should be promoted by diverse actors. Also, connections among these actors and the wider community are necessary.
    In addition, through the observation day lesson that promoted connections with parents and guardians, the children’s planning and participation in the Africa Caravan in Matsuyama on the occasion of the Autumn Festival that promoted connections with the community, and the effort to ask stores in the school district to set out donation boxes, learning and practice did not stop inside the classroom and spread to the local community.  Without the cooperation and understanding of the parents and guardians, connections with the community will not take root.


A bazaar with voluntary participation is held during the Africa Caravan in Matsuyama.  All of the proceeds went to Mozambique.


An Array of Visitors with Real-World Experience Open Students’ Eyes and Minds
    The nonprofit organisation involved in the project was supported by various types of people.  There were both full-time and part-time paid staff, unpaid volunteers and student interns, and experts in their fields.  The personnel involved with the learning at Aratama Elementary School were also diverse. 
    The participation of nonprofit staff members who had been sent to work in Mozambique and students from Ehime University who were in their 20s promoted connections among the generations, especially as students were used to being supervised by middle-aged and older adults.  From Mozambique, Mr. Nicolau Jemusse Luis (a staff member of an NGO), Mr. Antonio Macamo (a government investment promotion officer), Mr. Tatsuya Miki (Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mozambique), and others who demonstrated the reality of doing practical work in Mozambique, came one after another as visitors to the school.
    The children realised that international cooperation activities were supported in the local country by a diverse group of people whose activities were connected with one another.
    Of course, the “accidental” good luck that Aratama Elementary School was able to have these people come was a big factor.  However, one might also say that the school did not miss the chance it was given and made the most of it.  There is much movement in the world and many opportunities.  Because Aratama Elementary School made the most of its opportunities, both the Mozambique side and the NPO side took action.  In reality, the majority of the choices were left up to the school.  In order to bring learning alive, it is important to take advantage of opportunities by seizing the chance and responding flexibly.

The stationary items and clothing gathered through an appeal to all children at the school are presented as a gift to Mr. Nicolau Jemusse Luis during his visit


Expansion to Sister Cities and Learning as a World Citizen
    As an additional part of the project, and as an accessible example of international exchange to expand children’s international view, Matsuyama’s sister cities were introduced: Sacramento in the United States, Freiburg in Germany, and Pyeongtaek in South Korea. Children were also told of the merit and wonderful possibilities of being able to communicate directly with diverse people besides those from Mozambique once they became junior high school students and would be able to study English.  This was done because of the wish of teachers and the non-profit organisation that students could continue their learning.
    Next, even if they are children, the goal was for them to consider themselves important members of society--in other words, to have an awareness of themselves as “world citizens,” or “members of society.” The nonprofit representative conveyed this wish in the final session, asking: “Who here is a member of society?  Raise your hands.”  All the students raised their hands straight up in the air.  As individual human beings, students came into contact with Mozambique and learned together with people involved with that country.  It was a year that established deep memories of looking closely together at a common future.

As part of the exchange, drawings by each one of the students were sent by the local elementary school in Mozambique


When We Become Sixth-Graders, We Get To Learn about Mozambique!
 
   In 2008 as well, exchange with Mozambique continued throughout the year.  Because the new sixth-grade children had been watching the endeavours of the students from the previous year all year through the school broadcasting system and in other ways, they had been awaiting their turn with excitement in their hearts, thinking: “When we are sixth-graders, we will get to learn about Mozambique!”
As with the previous year, the lessons began with “peace tellers.”  During the first semester three people came from Mozambique (Mr. Nicolau Jemusse Luis, Mr. Fiel dos Santos Marques Rafael, and Ms. Adelia Chauque Nuvunga).  During the second semester, one person came—Mr. Aurelio Benete Manave, Junior. During the third semester, three people came again (Ms. Adelia Chauque Nuvunga, Mr. Aurelio Benete Manave, Junior, and Ms. Cremilda Fernando Chissico). This deepened students’ understanding of developing countries.  In addition, the school received cooperation from trainees from the Oisca Shikoku Training Centre (16 people from 8 Asian countries), and parents were also invited to a “Fair Trade Project,” thereby expanding the scope of international exchange and understanding of developing countries.
Linkages with the teachers and the support and understanding of the school principal deepened, and the non-profit organisation consolidated its position as one member of the community involved in school education.  Debate also began about whether it would be possible for other schools to develop the same type of programme and how community-based ESD learning could be expanded.
    On the other hand, on May 31, 2008, 33 people from Mozambique, including H.E. President Armando Emilio Guebuza of the Republic of Mozambique and members of his cabinet, visited Ehime when they came to Japan to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.  The connection between Ehime and Mozambique and this style of learning are unique community features that are likely to increase the area’s attractiveness.  The President of the Republic of Mozambique, while listening to a tape of the Aratama Elementary School students singing “Bell of Peace” expressed his thanks to the children for learning about Mozambique and deepening the bonds of friendship.
    In 2009, the efforts up until this point are being taken advantage of and there is a plan to develop an integrated studies plan for the third year.  Current issues are how to develop follow-up efforts once students have moved on to junior high school as well as how to propose and develop an integrated structure for ESD that connects elementary school, junior high school, high school and universities.


(Reference) Mozambique “Transforming Arms into Ploughshares” Project Introduction
    Mozambique is a country with abundant nature that borders Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.  In a land area 2.1 times greater than that of Japan, live approximately 20.1million people (2006) from 43 different tribes.  Until its independence in 1975, it had been ruled by Portugal for 430 years, and following its independence it experienced a 16-year civil war that was a proxy fight between capitalism and socialism.  In 1992, a peace agreement was signed and at last peace came.  Peace-keeping forces were also sent from Japan in order to disarm the country, but the issue remains of 1 million, or even 10 million, weapons still left in the country.  To address this problem, NGOs took leadership, collecting weapons and exchanging them for bicycles and sewing machines.  Thus, the “Arms into Ploughshares” Peace-Building Project was started.  From 2000, the Japanese Non-profit Ehime Global Network has continuously supported this project, especially by accepting discarded bicycles in Matsuyama City and sending them to Mozambique for free.
According to the United Nations Human Development Programme’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2008, Mozambique ranked in 175th place among 179 countries.  Safe drinking water, food security, and expansion of education are necessary, and the country faces an urgent need for policies to address malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, and HIV/AIDS.




What We Can Do to Build a Peaceful World PDF