Developing Human Resources for Peace Building: Manila [2007/06/13]
Scholarship Presentation Ceremony at Ateneo de Manila
On April 10, a branch campus of the Costa Rica-basedUniversity for Peace was opened at Ateneo de Manila University in Manila, the Philippines, at a ceremony held for the first 30 students. To develop personnel capable of promoting peace, primarily in Asian nations, the students will work on peace-promotion programs and conflict prevention efforts for 19 months before earning master’s degrees in international peace studies. Graduates are expected to work in various UN organizations and NGOs.
Following a UN resolution adopted in 1980, the University for Peace was inaugurated the following year in Costa Rica, where efforts to promote peace have included disbanding the army. To date, the University has established short-term training centers and offices in Toronto, Canada and Geneva, Switzerland, but the Manila branch is the first full branch campus. Of some 130 applicants, those admitted were selected based on written applications and telephone interviews. All students are beneficiaries of scholarships and stipends from the Nippon Foundation.
The initial class is comprised of 13 men and 17 women, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s. The oldest student, Yon Hon-suk from Korea, is 68 years old. Half of the students are Japanese, five of whom have experience working as Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers dispatched by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The oldest Japanese student is Kazuhide Sainowaki (64), a former director of a publishing house. The other 15 students represent ten Asian countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines.
The University for Peace is the only UN-affiliated graduate university. The newly-established master’s program at the Manila branch consists of five months of English language training in Manila, a six-month basic course at the main campus in Costa Rica, four months of general education course work and a four-month internship. The program is designed to equip graduates with the skills needed to work for international organizations and NGOs, and to lead peace-building initiatives in the future. At the moment, individuals with these qualifications are especially rare in Asia.
The Nippon Foundation supported the establishment of the original University in 1981, but experience has shown that most students came from the U.S. or European countries. With religious, racial, and regional tensions, as well as maritime terrorist attacks, on the rise in Asia, an Asian branch was proposed. Following discussions among the relevant parties, the decision was made to open one at Ateneo de Manila University, which has a long-standing relationship with the Nippon Foundation through various scholarship programs and is highly regarded for its English language courses.
While post-degree career opportunities remain up to the students, Mr. Sasakawa expressed the following hope: “With more people wanting to pursue careers in
peace issues, with more people who have knowledge and experience to share with others, and with more institutions to house and train these individuals, I firmly believe that the region will be equipped with a significant pool of peace-building professionals in the near future.”