CRIS advocates for the roles of schools as critical instruments in the process of peace-building and shares its experience and practice generously. In his seminal book, “Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies”, John Paul Lederach identifies the particular significance of schools as locations ideally suited to promoting peaceful change. This is because schools lie at the ‘subsystem’ level and are pivotal to affecting change at both micro and macro levels.
CRIS experience and practice demonstrates how this works best in the Northern Ireland context. In the past this advocacy role has included meetings and presentations with local and national politicians; awareness raising campaigns; participation in local and national funding, policy and programme consultations; and engagement with key government departments.
As part of a broader advocacy campaign in 2014, CRIS worked along side school communities from North Belfast to highlight the challenges of living within interface areas of Belfast, the current issues facing schools and families and inform local and national politicians of the work currently being under taken by Community Relations advocates to address them. This culminated in a presentation by over 200 parents, children and staff on the steps of Stormont Parliament Buildings on the 24th June 2014 (see pictures).