According to the universal declaration of human rights, education is a human right. However, this right is not realized in conflict-hit regions. Out of the 58 million children that are out of school, more than half of them live in conflict-affected areas.
Education is such a powerful tool that it can both escalate and improve situations in conflict-hit regions.
Let’s take the example of history books. The way history is narrated, the tone used, the words chosen, can impact how one thinks of specific events. This can shape opinions of young children toward specific groups and can increase hatred between groups with different beliefs, be it religious or political. This in return, can cause tensions to rise to a point where violence becomes inevitable.
Similarly, delivering education content that promotes peaceful coexistence can ease tensions in the region.
Below, I will discuss 3 ways in which this can be done.
1. Understand the Conflict Context
Collect and analyze information about conflict actors, dynamics, profiles, and causes. Use these to understand the current situation better. Before anything, be it hiring teachers, building infrastructure, or designing a curriculum, you need to understand the current situation in the region. The success of the good efforts towards normalization depends on how well the current situation is understood.
2. Analyze Conflict Context and Educational Programs
Analyzing the two-way interaction between conflict context and educational policies and programs also plays a pivotal role. This can be done by asking questions like:
If I hire teachers from only this language group, how will that impact the conflict?
If I hire this security firm, associated with one faction of the conflict, how will that impact the community's perception of different agencies’ education work or efforts made to normalize things?
3. Act to Minimize the Negative Impact
Minimizing negative impacts and maximizing the positive impact of educational programs requires ensuring that the content and delivery of education services don’t increase tensions in the environment. This could be done by designing a curriculum that is free of biased content, promotes acceptance of differences in opinions and emphasizes on peaceful coexistence.