Konflikte lösen - Frieden schaffen 1997/1998


"Solving Conflicts - Buildung Peace"
"Résoudre les conflicts - construire la Paix."

4000 young people from all parts of Austria participated in the "Europe at School" activities 1997 - 1998. Since 1994, the competition has been reorganised and run by Österreichischer Kultur-Service (ÖKS) on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs.

The competition was integrated into the action programme "Europa macht Schule" of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs on the occasion of Austria` s presidency of the European Union in the second half of 1998.

"Europe at school" was open to students from all types of schools, including primary schools for the first time. The competition offered again two strands of activities, one focusing on projects ("Art - culture - creativity", including texts, video-clips and documentaries, project documentaries, objects, games, etc), the other one encouraged individual art works ("Drawing-painting-media", including graphic art, painting, collage, computer animation, video-clips, new technologies).

The expertise and support of the Österreichischer Kultur-Service continues to be a guaranty for the quality of the project activities while the inspectors of arts education in Austria, utilising the specific capabilities of art and design classes, state the constant improvement of the individual works.

Through a broad range of services the information office of "Europe at School" has intensified contacts with schools and, within the purview of the school-autonomy statute, has established contacts with private and public, regional and federal institutions. The advertising folder and the poster were again very well received by the Austrian schools.

In 1998 "Solving conflicts - Building Peace" was chosen as a motto since children and youth are confronted with violence in many ways and on different levels, in personal life as well as in the social and political situation. Means to deal with violence and conflicts are an important challenge to education for peace.

Many of the entries showed that young people - if they experience a personal and practical approach to this issue - find out that violence can be prevented by a creative way of dealing with conflicts.

Some of the schools decided to work on personal conflicts and civil courage (violence in school, family conflicts, violence in the streets) Others worked on conflict and structural violence in society or on the international level. Concrete issues raised were racism or specific situations of violence in different countries. In some of the projects, an international exchange of information with partner schools in other countries took place, e.g. by electronic media.

In the projects a wide range of methods were used to encourage the students to express and discuss their viewpoints on the possibilities of nonviolence. The theoretical expertise of nonviolent conflict resolution was often combined with role-plays. But it was also very important to make it clear to the students that violence has got different forms and faces (personal, structural and cultural), as a basic knowledge for their further social interactions.

All the contributions were summed up in an attractive catalogue which can be used by schools to present themselves also beyond this year's activities.

The final presentation took place in Klagenfurt on June 23, 1998. 300 students and project leaders from all over Austria received prizes and diplomas from Federal Minister Elisabeth Gehrer. Thanks to the support from Province of Carinthia and from the City of Klagenfurt, the organisers succeeded in turning the event and the visit of "Minimundus" into a memorable experience for everyone involved.

The Austrian prizewinners gathering took very successfully, this year again, place in Altenmarkt/Salzburg in August 1998. For the first time, young people from all over Europe enjoyed a "get together" with the young members of the traditional music orchestra of Altenmarkt on invitation of the mayor of the community.