Cyprus Peace Education Initiative

The Cyprus Peace Education Initiative facilitates dialogue in the interest of peace and reconciliation between Greek and Turkish Rotarians, academics and educators in Cyprus. The Initiative focuses upon challenges facing the educational systems in light of the peace process, and the needed reforms to be designed and integrated into these existing systems, especially in the event of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. The goal is fostering peaceful coexistence of the Greek and Turkish communities living on the island, by building bridges of cooperation and reconciliation across the two educational systems.

The project reflects a collaboration between RAGFP and the Conflict Resolution Program of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Portland State University. The project was facilitated and led by the Director of the Conflict Resolution Program, Dr. Harry Anastasiou, who is also a co-founder of Rotarian Action Group For Peace. Dr. Anastasiou worked closely with Dr. Yiannis Laouris, the head of a local NGO that assisted in the facilitation and logistics of the project.

The Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960 as a bi-ethnic state but the two communities remained mostly ethnically segregated, especially in education. The interethnic conflicts that erupted in the decades following independence from British colonial rule further deepened the divide between the two communities, while moving the respective educational systems further apart.

The Cyprus Peace Education Initiative has launched an ongoing process by which educators from the two communities can come together, reflect on the current state of education, identify obstacles and challenges and design projects, workshops and initiatives that assist in building bridges between the two educational systems. In this light, the participants engage in dialogue and develop strategies that enhance reconciliation, cooperation and mutual respect.

Dr. Anastasiou presented the vision and work of the Cyprus Peace Education initiative to the Rotary Club of Kition-Larnaca.

The Cyprus Peace Education Initiative launched in October 2017, began with the promotion of the project on both sides of the ethnic divide through social media networks and collaborating NGO’s. Invitations were sent to educators and involved a commitment to continue working on the project after the completion of a workshop that marked Phase 1 of the Cyprus Peace Education Initiative.

In anticipation of a possible Global Grant, Phase 2 will follow. In Phase 2, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot participants and facilitators will travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland for a Week.

The purpose is to offer the participants the opportunity to explore, discuss and learn from the Northern Irish experience and progress in building bridges of cooperation between the educational systems of the Catholic and Protestant communities, so as to ascertain what models, approaches and strategies may be applicable to Cyprus.

Cyprus Rotary leaders, including, Dr. Marios Antoniou, a Cypriot Rotary Peace Fellow, also participated in aspects of the Peace Education Initiative process, informing the educators about Rotary’s work. It was also noted that over recent years, Rotary clubs from across the ethnic divide started to work together on various peace-enhancing projects. For most of the participating educators, learning about Rotary was new, but exciting information.

Moreover, following an invitation by a local Rotary club, Dr. Anastasiou delivered a presentation on the Cyprus Peace Education Initiative. He elaborated on the collaborative effort between the RAGFP and the Conflict Resolution Program of Portland State University, focusing on Peace, Conflict Prevention and Resolution.

DDG Elana Tanou, Dr. Harry Anastasiou and President of Kition Rotary Club of Andreas.

The Cyprus Peace Education Initiative

In the buffer zone: Launching the Cyprus Peace Education Initiative.

Completing Phase 1 of the Cyprus Peace Education Initiative: Greek and Turkish Cypriot Educators in front of the House for Cooperation in the Nicosia buffer zone.