Once more, the Ahtisaari Days will be celebrated in November. In schools, the goal is to increase awareness about conflict prevention and mediation both at the international level and within the school community.
Held now for the third time, the Ahtisaari Days have already become part of the curriculum in many schools, from the lower grades of comprehensive school to general upper secondary education. One example of an interesting way to learn about mediation is to invite students to play the Kurkum conflict resolution role play produced by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The game, designed for upper secondary schools, encourages students to think about conflicts, crises, peace and mediation.
The idea of the role play is for the negotiators to work out a solution to a conflict in the imaginary country of Kurkum and to practise negotiation skills in situations imitating real life. During the game, students step into the shoes of, say, the Government of Kurkum, the negotiator, or a non-governmental organisation working at a refugee camp. The aim is that, through their roles, students understand the complexity of various conflicts and the reasons why the resolution of conflicts and crises both between and within states involves many types of challenges.
During the Ahtisaari Days held in past years, Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja and Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala have visited Finnish upper secondary schools to play the game with students. The Ministers have, for instance, given the players tips on how to find a common compromise during the negotiations. Every game played has proved to be unique, because the dynamics between the students and the roles have led to a different outcome each time.
The Kurkum negotiations game has now been translated into English. The game materials can be downloaded freely for use in teaching among students of different ages.
Questions about the Ahtisaari Days and the role play can be sent to the address: firstname.lastname@example.org. In 2013, the Ahtisaari Days will be held on 5 to 7 November.