In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of non-violence, teachers are now getting trained to teach peace as a subject to students.
Peace education is now a part of the teacher-training programme of the National Council of Educational Training and Research (NCERT), which formulates school curricula and teacher training programmes in India.
"Peace is the most vital thing in human life. It is the need of the hour to sow the seeds of peace among students. Teachers under the peace education programme are taught the nitty-gritty of inculcating peace among students in a holistic manner," Daya Pant, the programme coordinator, told IANS.
The programme has already trained over 70 teachers in two batches from across the country.
Experts from various fields teach the participating teachers how to handle violent students, react to their queries, help them counter social evils and respect others, thereby promoting social cohesion.
"The programme's primary goal is to shape up the child's life cohesively. That will be possible only if some extra efforts are made. Our peace education programme is an effort in that direction. It is open to teachers of all streams," NCERT spokesman Bishnucharan Patro said.
The six-week long programme was first started at the NCERT headquarters in New Delhi during the summer vacation in 2006 and was repeated the next year. Positive feedback from the trained teachers has encouraged NCERT to expand the programme.
From the next academic session the programme is set to start at the NCERT's Regional Institutes of Education (RIE) at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Mysore, Shillong, and Ajmer.
"The number of applicants from different states is going up now. The teachers are quite keen to become effective partners in our endeavour to promote peace," Patro added.
"Schoolchildren belong to the most formative age group of human life. The best way to shape them up effectively for positive goals is through their teachers. There is a need to train teachers accordingly. NCERT's move is quite laudable," said Subrato Mukherjee, a professor at Delhi University.
NCERT academicians would like their counterparts from Pakistan to replicate such efforts at their end too.
"Though peace is required everywhere in the world, it is needed most in the two neighbouring countries (India and Pakistan). Decades of bloodshed along the border has made life miserable for people on both sides. Every social group should be made a party to promoting effective bilateral peace. For this, we must prepare children on both sides," an academic at the council added.
"Given an opportunity, the NCERT would certainly share this innovative idea with them," the academic said.