The liberalization of economy in Asia-Pacific region, otherwise known as globalization has greatly affected the educational systems of countries in this region. Education continues to be integrated into the “globalized system”, re-orienting it into a mere tool for economic development, thus, making it more commercialized and privatized. Since the market and profit oriented ideology has driven out other competing alternatives or academic subjects from the curriculum of education, one of the important roles of education as an indispensable tool in developing peace, justice and human rights has been endangered. It is important to affirm first of all that the goal of education is life, the sustenance and continuation of life in its fullness.
Closely related to globalization is the age of terrorism that has elevated the ideology of war as the way to bring about peace. Once again, it is often students and youth, with so much potential in their lives, who get co-opted to serve this ideology. However, we have witnessed that the age of terrorism benefits only few hegemonic powers in the world, bringing a great sufferings to the majority of the global community.
In the age of globalization and terrorism, most students, even among the so-called progressive and alternative student groups, have very few chances to involve themselves in justice, peace and human rights-promoting activities.
However, it should not be overlooked the traditional role of students and youth and students as catalyst for change and as front liners in the struggle to bring about peace, justice and human rights in the society. Students and youth are capable of dreaming dreams, of developing alternatives to work towards the realization of that dream. With that dream of peace and unity through justice, reconciliation and transformation, the ecumenical movement has tried to affirm, reclaim and proclaim the fullness of life that is meant for all.
The World Student Christian Federation in general and the Student Christian Movement (SCM) in particular has a massive crowd of witnesses to this fact. The SCM should uphold this witness to challenge the growing number of churches and church related institution that are becoming more and more insensitive to justice, peace and human rights issues in their societies. We should recognize that a peaceful co-existence of global community is possible only through building just relationships and enabling just sharing of the resources.
For last few years, the WSCF AP region has dealt with several important human rights and peace issues through the Human Rights and Solidarity Program (HRSP). It includes the issue of; National Security and People’s Rights, Labor Migration, Impunity and Justice, Militarization and People’s Rights, Religious Fanaticism and Human Rights, Rights of Minorities, Rights of Women and Children, etc. Even the HRSP workshops have been well organized in terms of participation, the WSCF AP evaluated that the recommendations of action plans of the HRSP to local level have not well implemented because of lack of structure and human resources in the local SCMs that can support continuous human rights and peace advocacy works. Therefore there has been a need for the WSCF AP to develop a more intensive and well organized project to provide a certain people of SCMs with deeper understanding and practice of human rights advocacy works so that they can help their SCMs develop a mechanism for continuous human rights and peace works systematically.
In this respect, internship programs have proven to be an effective method of developing qualified human resources, because of the idea of “praxis” and learning through actual experience. The prolonged length of time for an internship program is also advantageous as it verifies the concepts and ideas of issues that remain as such without the actual experience.
The internship programs currently available for the SCM members are very limited and competitive. For example, the Frontier Internship in Mission (FIM) has provided a great opportunity to SCMers to be involved in justice and peace issues. However, because of high competition and the length of the internship duration—three years’ term has been a really challenge to the SCMers—few SCMers could benefit from the FIM internship.
This internship project is therefore being proposed to respond to the more short-term and transitional needs, which can be connected to the long-term and more intensified internships such as the FIM.
In the year of 2003, the WSCF AP could send 3 Human Rights and Peace interns to the Burma Issue office in Bangkok, the DAGA office in Hong Kong and LOCOA in the Philippines. The 3 internships finished already with very successful outcomes.
The following three “SCM Human Rights and Peace Internship (HRPI)” will be prepared by the WSCF AP through Human Rights and Solidarity Program Project for the year of 2004.
The overall objective of the HRPI is to provide the second-line leaders of SCMs in Asia-Pacific region with a venue to enhance their commitment towards human rights and peace works. Specifically it aims to:
Transformation of Ethnic Conflict and the Role of Ecumenical Movements in Sri Lanka,
by Jerome De Porres