Dialogue to resolve Mindanao conflict

Organising dialogues that cut across language and national barriers is the best way in seeking solutions to the armed conflict in Mindanao, Philippines.

Assoc. Prof. Kamarulzaman Askandar, the Coordinator of the Research and Education for Peace Unit said that the task of seeking pathways towards peacebuilding should not rest with the leaders only. On the other hand, educators, especially those at tertiary level should work together to find solutions to issues that touch on the need for peace.

”In Mindanao, for instance, there is no abatement to the unrest and armed conflict that has dragged on for 40 years despite the fact that efforts have been taken to forge peace. So the time has come for educators to find new approaches through the growth of knowledge to tackle these issues in a more civilized manner. This is to ensure that finally, almost half a century of unrest and fighting will come to an end,” he said.

He said this at a press conference after the official opening ceremony and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between USM and the Mindanao Association of State Colleges and Universities Inc (MASCUF), here today.

The signing of the MoU was held in conjunction with the Mindanao Educators Peace Summit (MEPS) with the theme “Transforming the Conflict in Mindanao Through Peace Education and Quality Higher Education.”

The programme was officiated by USM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International Affairs), Prof Ahmad Shukri Mustapa Kamal. Also present were Dr. Victor Barroso, the President of MASCUF, and Ms. Noriko Suzuki, a representative of Japan International Cooperation Agensi (JICA), which co-organised the programme.

Meanwhile, Prof Ahmad Shukri stressed that the Mindanao Educators Peace Summit is an initiative to lessen the burdens of the people of Mindanao. He said that USM through its expertise in peace education will help its neighbouring country to build a peaceful nation and society.

”Although USM is a research university, its strength is not limited to the field of science alone. USM also has expertise in other fields including social sciences; arts and culture; and humanities. We are also the only university in the country that has a special focus in the field of peace and REPUSM was established in USM in 1995,” he said.

He added that since REPUSM was established, research, training and educational opportunities for understanding the importance of the peace process in tackling various conflicts in the ASEAN region have been carried out.

Speaking on the MoU signed by both parties, he said that it is the start of a better future where USM and MASCUF will collaborate through exchange of expertise, research, staff and also students for sustainability in higher education.

For further information please contact Marziana Mohamed Alias

Published: 15 Jan 2010

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