The City Montessori School (India) awarded the 2002 UNESCO Prize for Peace EducationParis - UNESCO Director-General Ko´chiro Matsuura awarded the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education to the City Montessori School (India) on June 5 following its recommendation by the prize's international jury.
Meeting on June 3 and 4 at Organization Headquarters, the jury commended the school "in recognition of its efforts to promote the universal values of education for peace and tolerance and to renew the principles of secularism at a time when these values and principles are increasingly being challenged."
The City Montessori School (CMS), founded in 1959 in Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is not a school like any other. It is distinctive not only for its size -- with 25,000 pupils from kindergarten up to high school level, it figures in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest private school in the world -- or the quality of its teaching. Its students systematically score higher on exams than the national average. More than anything it stands out because of it its philosophy: For more than 40 years it has educated students to respect the values of tolerance and peace and sought to make them citizens of the world.
The school's founders, Jagdish and Bharti Gandhi, inspired by the non-violenceof Mahatma Gandhi, founded their school on four fundamental principles: universal values, excellence, global understanding, and service to the community. Students, for example, give literacy classes in neighbouring villages, as well as teaching health and hygiene.
The school aims to give pupils the skills permitting them to face the complex problems of the world today, by displaying trust for each child, by developing their sense of responsibility, by the theoretical and practical teaching of moral values, and by opening their eyes to other religions and cultures.
The recognition given to the importance of the family is one of the characteristics of the CMS. The school sensitizes parents by giving them books on their educational influence and involving them closely in the life of the school. And the teachers benefit from continued training in the main principles of the school, as well as in child development, psychology and sociology. Each child has a mentor who engages in a personal relationship with his or her charge's family.
Another characteristic of the City Montessori School is the emphasis it places on educational research. Its Innovation Wing employs 25 people who identify and bring in the best educational theories and practices from whatever country, sourcing techniques from the Montessori method, robotics, tutorial systems or management practices.
The US$30,000,UNESCO Prize for Peace Education has been awarded since 1981 to promote initiatives that seek to improve public awareness and to mobilize opinion in favour of peace. Funding for the Prize is provided though a donation from the Nippon Foundation. In 2001, the Prize was given to the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace in Givat Haviva in Israel and to Ugandan Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng. Previous prize-winners include: the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Argentina), Prayudh Payutto (Thailand), Mother Teresa (India), Rigoberta Mench? Tum (Guatemala), and Paulo Freire (Brazil).
The time and venue of the prize-giving ceremony will be decided later.
Monique Perrot-Lanaud, Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section,
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