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Speeches in the Signing of Agreements

Signing of Agreement with the Ministry of Education

Speech by CVR President

Mister Minister of Education,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the inception of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, its member were aware of the deep moral character of our mandate. Indeed it demands us to investigate what happened and thus help the Nation to remember the violence suffered in the last twenty years. However it also requires us to suggest the ways to overcome that self-destruction legacy and to lay the foundation for a true national reconciliation.

This second dimension of our mandate, as we understand it, will only be fulfilled as we are capable of starting a process to recover long despised values among us. At the same time, if we sow other values compatible with the democratic, peaceful and fair society we want to build. Seeking this ethical recovery of the Nation we need the cooperation of several state and society institutions, among which a main role corresponds to the Ministry of Education.

Due to the nature of its work, the institution responsible for leading the country’ s educational policy is- with no need of an explanation- our natural allied in this effort and we go to it to find spontaneous understanding and identification with our task from the first day as well as a natural convergence with our objectives. This confluence of spirits and purposes has made the road, which brings us to this moment of signing this inter-institutional agreement, a very fluid one.

Between the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Ministry of Education there is, in fact, a remarkable community of purposes. Our common goal is to instill these attitudes and values in the Peruvian society so they permit us to become a community of free individuals who are proud of their freedom. At the same time, it should also be a community aware of the value of our brethren and respectful of the laws regulating our relationships with others, as well as tolerant towards our differences.

Much has been thought regarding the reasons for which Peruvian democracy suffers from chronic precariousness. We must also reflect much about the reasons - or the lack of reasons- that threw us into the path of violence we deplore today. Regarding those problems, we will inevitably find the issues we want to face through this agreement: absence or weakening of civil culture at valuing others and at respecting the rules of the game - respect, tolerance, truthfulness - that permit human cohabitation to become a fulfillment and not an oppression space.

Thus, it is indispensable to carry out a joint action as the one we shall start after this agreement. This task of ethically recovering our Nation is something we want to carry out with children and adolescents still in school and it must take into account an essential step, which is not always agreeable: have the population become aware of the terrible facts the country has lived through by having them feel the pain our humblest brethren had to silence for so long and, from there, sincerely reflect on our failures and faults.

This awareness of past wrongs would be more effective than a vast task of educating these children and youth in values and attitudes, as required for future active citizens and for sound and healthy democracy needs. It is hard to solve something that has not been perceived in the first place as a problem. Therefore, our students must really feel that abuse by the stronger, mockery of civic cohabitation rules, law transgression, undue profiting from public positions are far from being an acceptable way of life and are on the contrary a true scandal affecting us all.

Creating a civic culture and promoting humane and democratic morality certainly requires to work on the contents taught to students. Our agreement hence considers interesting curricular innovation proposals as pilot experiences. Nevertheless, as education has shown in the last decades what you do in the classroom is as important as what you say in the classroom. Democracy is only learnt practically. So we need to promote tolerant attitudes among the students who share classrooms and school yards. This would be part of the education for peace we want to jointly promote.

Finally, an education project -whichever its aim- would only be a chimera if it did not pay special attention to the essential educational agent, teachers. Peruvian teachers have permanently witnessed of their vocation. We have to support that vocation by putting in their hands the tools to make it come true. Therefore, our agreement includes a relevant teacher training chapter including methodological support and guidelines to prepare a citizen education course.

As I have said, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, found a warm reception in the Ministry of Education from the first day. This openness is based in the community of our aspirations. This convergence, this shared commitment that I deeply thank, Mister Minister, is the best guarantee that the activities we start by signing this agreement will reach a good conclusion and will become a real contribution in the construction of that yearned for democratic and peaceful society.

Salomón Lerner Febres
Truth and Reconciliation Commission