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Grassroots Level

The CLS staff, after being trained to use the WANEP curriculum, embarked on the second phase of a highly regarded community reintegration program in the town of Port Loko, with support from the British Department for International Development. The intervention in Port Loko followed an outbreak of violence between students attending two secondary schools in Port Loko District after a football match in December 2002.

The community reintegration program organized a one-day workshop in January 2003 on the Promotion of Peace and Unity among Port Loko students and youth. In April 2003, CLS approached the organization with a proposal to promote conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills in the schools. This proved to be the first conflict resolution and peacebuilding program in the district targeting student communities. It was also one of the very few early interventions to ensure peaceful coexistence between victims and perpetrators of violence in the school setting. According to the principal of Schelenker Secondary School, this program was particularly important in creating linkages between the ongoing efforts to bring about reintegration, on the one hand, and the separate efforts within the school to promote peaceful coexistence between ex-combatants and victims of the atrocities of war on the other.

Students, teachers, and administrators in the so-called Peace Clubs were given training in active nonviolence and peer mediation. Peer mediation is regarded as a form of conflict resolution in which trained student leaders help their peers to work together to resolve everyday disputes. Participation in peer mediation is voluntary and all matters discussed in mediation sessions remain confidential.

CLS and partners such as the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology Inspectorate in Port Loko also worked together to develop a students' peace accord. This formed the main agenda item at a ceremony to launch school Peace Clubs in July 2003. Here, for the first time, six schools that had been in conflict with each other for several years came together. School-based peer mediation has now been accepted and is popular in these schools as an effective approach to conflict resolution and peacebuilding. The schools look forward to the continued support of CLS to keep their schools peaceful.

CLS and education officials alike are now determined to give every school the opportunity to set up a Peace Club and sign a students' peace accord. If successful, this will make a significant contribution toward facilitating personal, community, and national peacebuilding after a decade of brutal civil war. It is reported that their "policing" influence is also valued and is being extended into community sports and recreation programs.