‘Education in Emergencies and Conflict: Bridging the humanitarian-development divide?’

MARCH 17, 2016

IS Academie Education and International Development (UvA) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (The Hague)

This research dissemination session focused on education in emergencies and conflict by discussing the humanitarian-development divide, including presentations by recently graduated students in International Development Studies and a panel discussion  by facilitated by Mieke Lopes Cardozo (University of Amsterdam) in which Christine Pirenne (head of Humanitarian department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Matilda Flemming (United Network of Young Peacebuilders) and Sabine de Jong (UNICEF NL) participated. Please find the programme of this IS Academie EID event here.

Students and staff from the University of Amsterdam, staff members of the Dutch Ministries, policy-makers, representatives of NGOs,academics and people interested in the field, came together to discuss, reflect on and learn about important current developments and ideas in the field of education in emergencies and conflict. For the master students, this was part of the course ‘Politics of Education, Conflict and Development’, taught by Dr. Mieke Lopes Cardozo at the MA International Development Studies of the University of Amsterdam.

 Presentations of (graduated) students

Four students that have recently graduated or are in the final stage of writing their master thesis at the UvA related to education in conflict situations, shared their interesting findings with the participants of the event. All their research activities included fieldwork, and relate to education in (post-) conflict contexts. Please find their posters below.

Katie Hodgkinson discussed the needs and challenges of young displaced people in contributing to positive change in Burma and the role of educational initiatives on the Thai-Burmese border in meeting these needs. She concluded that education on the border is crucial to improving lives of young people and enabling them to contribute to positive change in Myanmar. She recommended that continued donor support is needed and redistribution of funds needs careful consideration. Also, young people need historic and political knowledge, interaction with other ethnic groups and community change knowledge

Marco Gallo presented on a case study of the educational program for ex combatants in Bogotá, Colombia’. Marco reflected on how different actors conceive the relation between the educational program and integration and discussed views of different actors regarding the outcomes of the program.

The third presentation by Taru Niskanen focused on teacher agency and strategies in monastic schools in Mon state, Myanmar. Taru discussed motivations and aspirations of teachers in the monastic education system and aims to find out the strategies that these teachers adopt to cope with the social, cultural and structural working conditions of their working context.

Finally, Heleen Vis talked about how primary-aged schoolgirls in Burundi are coping with violence and how this behaviour challenges normative feminine values. She stressed that girls cope with these issues by, for example, seeking social support, support of religion and by trying to avoid various forms of/confrontations with violence. The conclusion was that these girls often do not challenge the normative femininity while coping with violence. Heleen recommended that should should pay more attention to responsibilities and expectations of both girls and boys, as girls are often blamed when they are violated while boys are not punished when using violence.

Panel discussion

After the poster presentation, a public panel discussion facilitated by Mieke Lopes Cardozo (University of Amsterdam) in which Christine Pirenne (head of Humanitarian department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Matilda Flemming (United Network of Young Peacebuilders) and Sabine de Jong (UNICEF NL) reflected on debates within the broader field of education, conflict and emergencies.

Specifically, they discussed the often mentioned “silos” of (longer-term) development and (more immediate) humanitarian approaches. These issues receive more attention due to crises lasting longer, which means that humanitarian aid has to respond in ways it has not responded so far. Finding ways to build bridges between these divides are therefore crucial. In order to re-imagine the divide between humanitarian aid and development, it was stated that there is a need to connect preventative and reactive responses, and to address (political) root causes of conflict. This also means working towards a ‘culture of peace’ instead of the absence of violence. In doing so, it was argued that it remains essential to take voices of  young people in the communities seriously and help build their capacities, skills and knowledge through education.

Furthermore, the discussion reflected on what the newly adapted concept of ‘resilience’ means to different international organizations and donors. It was stressed that the concept resilience is sometimes used as a means of ‘self-help’ and could therefore hide structural issues or root causes. This points to the caution required in using  the concept, acknowledging the need to move beyond the ‘status quo’ and rather work on a sustainable form of peacebuilding.

Network drinks and reception

During a network reception provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, students were given the opportunity to get to know a variety of people that worked either with NGOs or other civil society organizations that are related to children or education in post-conflict contexts. Students were able to orientate themselves in terms of possible internships, future career perspectives or new inputs for their thesis.


This day was organised by the IS Academie Education and International Development, in the context of the Master’s course ‘Politics of Education, Conflict, and International Development’, coordinated by Mieke Lopes Cardozo.

More information

For more information, send an e-mail to Mariëlle Le Mat (m.l.j.lemat@uva.nl).