thk. Readers of the quarterly journal Eine Welt (One World), published by the Swiss Federal Department of Development and Co-operation (SDC) will gain deeper insight about the world in general and Switzerland in particular. It is appealing how the articles picture human beings in their respective environments. Whether it is the promotion of democratic awareness in Albania or of a citizen-oriented municipal administration in Bangladesh, or support for the decentralization process in Bolivia in association with an increased participation of the population in political decision making – the SDC contributes everywhere, tapping their treasure of decades of experience in developing countries as well as centuries of home-grown experience in developing Swiss municipal autonomy, federalism and direct democracy at all levels of society.
Many SDC projects regarding “good governance” are modelled on the political and social success story of Switzerland, which led to decades of peace and stability, a rare exception in Europe. Swiss development aid benefits form great experience regarding this aspect of their work, and the fact that the very idea of helping other communities to develop is an integral part of Swiss self-definition – key to success in both instances is the focus on the people and communities and their particular needs. Far from simply “persuading them to adopt” the Swiss system, which took centuries to grow in Switzerland, people from any cultural background can acquire a good understanding of how this system works so that they can copy what might fit in with their own traditions and circumstances. Carefulness in the interaction with other people is the landmark of Swiss development aid and their humane and successful efforts deserve great respect and praise.
Articles from the journal Eine Welt should belong to the tools and materials of any teacher, accompanied by his or her personal appreciation of the importance of development aid, the way it is carried out by SDC, as examples of humane compassion and solidarity. History teachers at high schools or university lecturers, teachers at primary schools as well as vocational training colleges, children and youths at any level may be familiarized with this ambitious and challenging task. Recently a student pointed out in class, that peace-building had to start with education – in other words at school – and that no peace was ever going to end the Israel-Palestine conflict as long as the old enemy images were perpetuated in the school books and implanted into the minds of young children. A statement nobody would disagree with.
Peace education and the concept of human solidarity should be taught at school. At this point it is up to us as teachers. Orientation to what is constructive and positive is necessary in a world where war, hatred and destruction all too often fill the headlines of our biased press. Young people are left alone with shallow entertainment and ever-changing “Highlights”, rarely guided towards understanding reality and never sensitized to appreciate the positive sides of mankind. Yet even if man can undoubtedly be brought to waging wars and killing his fellow human beings, still the positive sides dominate the everyday lives of most people. Switzerland with her humanitarian tradition has provided many a good example of what single personalities may achieve to promote peace and help for those on the dark side of life. These personalities should be the role-models of our youths. And there are people with these attitudes all over the world. Orientation towards them can help making this world a bit more humane. •
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