The role of education in peacebuilding: an analysis of five change theories in Sierra Leone

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    This paper raises a number of critical questions regarding the contribution of education to peacebuilding. Despite recent calls for greater collaboration between the two fields, there is still a lack of clarity regarding the change theories through which education may contribute to peacebuilding processes. This paper outlines developments over the past decade in the field of education and conflict, before identifying five rationales for the ways in which education contributes to peacebuilding. The second half of the paper examines the translation of these rationales into practice. Sierra Leone is often regarded as a success story of UN peacebuilding and, 10 years post-agreement, offers the opportunity to examine a broad range of programming. Using data gathered during a two-week field study (17–28 January, 2011), the paper reflects on five education programmes that operated in Sierra Leone in the post-conflict period. Semi-structured interviews were held with project personnel and beneficiaries, educational officials, students and graduates, community leaders and UN personnel to assess views on the contribution of education to peacebuilding, the rationales informing projects and challenges to implementation. A number of critical questions are raised regarding the lessons learned by the international community, its tendency to pursue its own agendas and its commitment to conflict transformation through peacebuilding.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Oct 2012


    • conflict
    • education
    • peacebuilding
    • Sierra Leone


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