As with most activities of this sort, the primary challenges CLS faces involve funding and personnel. The best hope for raising adequate funds and finding the trained personnel who will be ready to implement the programs on a long-term basis rests with the forging of fruitful partnerships between government and civil-society organizations.
Responding to cultural differences is another challenge CLS faces. It is vitally important that the training modules are implemented with adequate sensitivity for local cultural norms and, where necessary, that appropriate modifications to the curriculum be made in response to those prevailing cultural norms.
Peace Clubs have now been launched in a number of schools and their existence and operations are long-term in scope and nature. CLS, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, and the Schools Administration have a long-term partnership that provides a supportive framework. Students are asking for further training and supervision that will build their capacity and empower them to continue operating the Peace Clubs on a sustainable basis.
The government recognizes that the war was fueled by rampant violent conflict on the campuses of secondary schools and colleges, and that a peacebuilding curriculum can help prevent a repeat of this tragedy. It also understands that students need to learn and practice tolerance and coexistence to insure that schools are the peaceful places they are meant to be. This can only be accomplished by consciously setting aside time for reflection on how to heal the wounds resulting from war, abuse, violence, and deprivation. Only when students can consider these matters at length will they have the capability to build peace and transform their schools and communities.
What has worked well in a few schools must be extended to the whole country in the shortest possible time. All students, youth, and young adults are, potentially, key actors in the national peacebuilding process. That the potential is beginning to be realized is evident from the reactions of the parents of children already participating in CLS programs. According to Emma Kamara, they often ask her: "What did you do with the children that made them so positive?"
Emma Kamara is the founder and coordinator of CLS.
Keith Neal, now retired, spent thirty-eight years teaching at the secondary-school level in the United Kingdom. Since his student days, he has been associated with the global work of Initiatives of Change. In recent years he has been particularly involved in building bridges with people in India, China, East Africa, and Sierra Leone.
National CLS Office
34 Trelawney Street
Off High Broad Street
Murray Town, Freetown
Contact desk in the UK:
3 Carlton Road, Hale
Cheshire WA15 8RH
Brochures and further information can be obtained by contacting either of the above addresses.