Ghana workshop raises benchmark for preventing and countering violent extremism

14 June 2021

The Commonwealth's work to prevent and counter violent extremism in Africa has been bolstered by a pioneering online initiative.

The Commonwealth's work to prevent and counter violent extremism in Africa has been bolstered by a pioneering online initiative.

With support from the National Peace Council of Ghana, the Commonwealth Secretariat Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Unit successfully delivered a week-long Faith in the Commonwealth (FiCW) workshop in a virtual format last month.

The FiCW workshop was aimed at building the capacity of young people to facilitate and lead work within their communities in the promotion of peacebuilding, social cohesion, global citizenship, and in facilitating deepened inter-faith and cross-cultural understanding.

FiCW is a global citizenship education programme for young Commonwealth citizens of all faiths and none, which began as a partnership with the Khalili Foundation. It has been delivered by the Secretariat in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda. Normally run as an in-person event, this is the first time the event has been delivered in an online format.

The four-day workshop was attended by more than 40 participants from across Ghana, including senior experts and young peace-builders. It is being seen as a model for future efforts for preventing and countering violence extremism in Commonwealth beneficiary countries.

Amy Longland, Programme Officer for the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Unit at the Commonwealth Secretariat said, "We've shown that innovative, ambitious and interactive events like this have a role to play in our efforts to empower young people to become agents of change in rejecting violent extremist narratives and action. It’s worked in Ghana and there is no reason why it can’t be rolled out in other Commonwealth countries.”

Participants were able to successfully work in varied breakout groups and complete a set of activities and tasks related to the FiCW project’s aims and covered areas such as:

  • Knowledge: participants now have a better understanding of P/CVE in Ghana, and the Faith in the Commonwealth Programme.
  • Skills: participants have acquired the skills to cascade their learning in their own lives, community and/or organisation
  • Networks: participants have built networks and relationships, which focus on building respect and youth empowerment, with the intention of fostering peaceful co-existence and reducing violent extremism
  • Capacity building: participants leave the workshops with the knowledge, skills and confidence to act as a catalyst of youth-led action.

Participants said they liked the stronger focus on CVE within the FiCW programme and discussed varied ways the initiative could be expanded in the future.

George Amoh, Executive Secretary of the National Peace Council of Ghana said: “The Faith in Commonwealth webinar was not only timely and useful for the participants, but also, innovative way of reaching out to a critical youth of Ghana, who are going to add to the country’s preparedness to counter violent extremism”  

The Secretariat hopes to build on the success of the Ghana event by holding similar virtual workshops in other Commonwealth countries.

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