Mandelaplein, 2572 HT, The Hague
In this multicultural neighbourhood, street names still refer to the Dutch and South-African past of ‘Apartheid’. On the Mandela Square, the Islamic primary school Yunus Emre gives an example of peace education against new ethnic segregation lines.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela (Nobel Peace Prize 1993)
The name of Transvaal derives from the independent Dutch-African ‘Boer Republic’ in South-Africa in the 19th century. Immediately after the First Hague Peace Conference, public opinion was shocked by the outbreak of the second ‘Boer War’ (1899-1902) and the introduction of concentration camps by the British (with separate ‘White’ and ‘Black’ camps). Street names honoured leaders like Paul Kruger (1825-1902), the president of Transvaal Republic.
After the Second World War, Kruger was perceived as founder of the racist ‘Apartheid’ system in South Africa. In the 1990s the City Council changed the name of the ‘Boer Square’ (Boerenplein) into Nelson Mandela Square, celebrating the peaceful abolition of Apartheid in South Africa. Mandela, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize of 1993 with Frederik de Klerk, was honoured in 2012 with a statue in the international zone (President Kennedylaan) as the first President of a democratic South Africa.
Today, Transvaal is a multicultural neighbourhood with 90% of migrants of more than a hundred national origins. Like in other big cities, informal social and ethnic-religious separation continues, especially in the field of education. In this particular respect, the Islamic primary school Yunus Emre at the Mandela Square offers an example of nonviolent change. The name of the school refers to the 13th century philosopher and poet Yunus Emre, who is celebrated in many Muslim communities for his legacy of tolerance and compassion:
“Let me receive what I need
The best possible thing
Is to find perfect peace.”
Proceeding from the basic value of Islamic moderation, it aims to be a peaceful school for the children of all ethnic and cultural groups. In practice, priority is given to meet high educational standards, especially in Dutch language, for offering the children a better future.
Peace education is part and parcel of the curriculum, training pupils as mediators for solving disputes in and outside the classroom. The school works together with the Christian and public primary schools in the municipal pilot programme to establish a broad educational zone in the neighbourhood.