Education and Peacebuilding: from ‘conflict-analysis’ to ‘conflict transformation’?

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This paper provides a brief summary of three ways in which we can think about the role of education in conflict-affected societies. In broad terms they represent areas that have gained greater attention over the past decade in international development discourses, although their roots go back to at least the Second World War. Each represents a slightly dif-ferent perspective arising from a common concern about the way that violent conflict affects the lives of children and their right to education. The first represents a concern for the protection of children and a response to the negative impacts of conflict, including attacks on education itself. To some extent this is primarily a humanitarian motivation. The second represents a concern that education is provided in a way that ‘does no harm’. That is, education should be sensitive to sources of conflict in the society in which it is situated and is provided in a way that does not make antagonisms or animosities worse. To some extent this could be considered a slightly pessimistic view of development that characterises education as an essentially conservative mechanism to reproduce existing power relations within society. The third represents a view that education can ‘make a difference’, for example by contributing to transformations within conflict-affected societies that might make peace possible and more likely to endure. This could be regarded as a more optimistic view of the role of education in development, although it also has significant challenges for current aid orthodoxies and the ideological positions adopted by international donors and development agencies.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherWorking Group on Peace and Development
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 2011


  • peace development conflict education


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