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Providing Conflict Sensitive Education in War Hit Regions: A 3 Step Approach

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.


How?


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.


Author:

Usama Khan

2023-11-0179

136 views15 comments

15 Comments


Usama, I love how detail oriented you are here! The last point is so important. The content should be unbiased else it can make matters worse. When people are emotional, slight triggers can make big impacts.


Pakistan and India are the prime example. Do not know how much hatred both nations nourish just because of the biased content that is spoon fed to the children.

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Thanks for your comment bro. I'd like to emphasise that narrative building has very powerful impacts and can definitely increase tensions between groups.


i found this article very interesting which builds on this point further.


https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13698249.2021.2004044


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You highlight a pertinent theme that should be taken in to importance post conflict when reimagining and re-innovating education for children in conflict ridden areas. The idea of how education could in certain ways propagate conflict can be prominently seen in curriculums often pushing certain beliefs and “truths” about groups of individuals which create tensions and can promote conflict.


The 3 ways that you curated are rather interesting and are a step in the right direction given the nature of impact education can have so, step 3 is particularly intriguing since mitigating the negative impacts is very necessary the idea of being able to do it through curriculums a specific example from Lebanon giving citizenships to certain Palestinians, in their…

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I find step 1 of the approach really interesting with how it focuses on understanding the context of the conflict before designing an approach to educational reform. Could you please elaborate a bit on how this conflict context can be understood? How is this research being conducted in a region where there is a high chance people not responding openly or favorably (keeping in mind the trauma that they have witnessed)?

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Thanks for engaging with the blog post and asking a very thoughtful question. Understanding the conflict context is the role of experts in the field where understanding the situation before the conflict and the needs and requirements of the future is one of their goals. These experts study the results of the war in terms of the different groups the wars might have created and how a curriculum shall be designed to tackle these challenges and promote peaceful co-existence. They also take into account the different causes of the war, the role of certain groups play in the conflicts etc. They also take into account the previous curriculum and see if changes need to be made. Understanding these things together…

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Thankyou for this post! This is such an important and insightful topic considering how the damage done to conflict hit regions is so deep that it takes years and years to reverse it. It's extremely important to understand the importance and need of conflict sensitive education for post-conflict regions, as without it we can not work towards reforming the educational system and reversing the damage done to the people and society as a whole.

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Its an extremely significant topic has to be addressed, and in particular, the three-step approach you've presented is intriguing and needed. It's a good idea to ensure that learning resources should be free of prejudice, support for any one group over another, and criticism of the other because this is where hatred between groups start like Pakistan imparts a curriculum of Pakistan studies that is biased and against the Indians and serves only to incite further animosity. Therefore, it's a wise solution to provide a curriculum that is devoid of prejudice and may even assist to resolve these conflicts.


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Same Usama, I also came to know about this when I studied Pakistan studies at LUMS. But honestly, I'm glad to know about these biased perspectives.

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