Education’s Role in (Post-) Conflict Contexts

MARCH 18, 2015

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

This research dissemination session focused on education’s role in (post-)conflict contexts, including presentations by recently graduated students in International Development Studies and lectures by Jelte van Wieren and Dr Tejendra Pherali. Please find the programme of this IS Academie EID event here.

Report of the full day – by students of the (research) master International Development Studies (IDS)

The IS Academie Education and International Development organized an event on Wednesday 18th of March, where students from the University of Amsterdam, staff members of the Dutch Ministries and representatives of NGOs came together to discuss, reflect on and learn about important current developments and ideas in the field of education 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. During the day there were different lectures of people that had experience in the field, alternated by recently graduated students’ presentations and a network lunch.

Network Lunch

During a network lunch 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 future career perspectives or some new inputs for their thesis.

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.

Nebil Ahmed Kusmallah – Education and Narrative: Parental Strategies of Protecting Children (the case of Eritrean refugees in Khartoum).
Nebil Ahmed Kusmallah investigated parental strategies and narratives of Eritrean refugees in Sudan related to their children’s education and subsequently the reaction of the children on those strategies. He concludes that education was often used as a strategy of “ensuring safety and family unity, securing a bright future, maintaining cultural ties and keeping education cost low”.

Nathalie Metheuver – Actors towards change? How peace education influences students’ motivations and strategies to contribute to social cohesion in Sri Lanka.
Nathalie Metheuver presented some preliminary findings on the influences of the critical cultural political economy of education (CCPEE) on the implementation and effects of peace education in North Western Sri Lanka, as well as the effects of peace education on secondary students.

Olwen Enright – Negotiating Leadership Space: Learning from Kenyan Women Leaders
The third presentation, given by Olwen Enright focused on women leadership in Kenya. The aim of the research was to identify the strategies used by woman to break certain social norms in order to attain leadership functions.

Kiymet Schipper – ‘Teaching how to learn or teaching what to think?’ The influence of a Myanmar Exitus training on the development of political agency of youth in Yangon, Myanmar.
Finally, Kiymet Schipper examined the role of peacebuilding activities in Myanmar, focusing on the political agency of the youth. She examined how political science training, provided by an NGO, affected the political agency of the attenders.

Lectures

Jelte van Wieren, currently working for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Head Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction, started by explaining how the nature of conflicts has changed over time and how these, mostly national, conflicts are blurring the lines between combatants and civilians. Hence, humanitarian workers are facing increasingly complex situations these days, that may require more long-term strategies rather than short-term missions. Therefore, van Wieren addressed the importance of education, as supporting activity in enhancing the resilience of communities.

In the final Lecture, Dr. Tejendra Pherali from the University College London elaborated on several important debates in the field of education and conflict, and emphasized the importance of integrating education in humanitarian aid in contexts of conflict. According to Dr. Pherali, education can enhance disaster management, temper the outcomes of ongoing conflict and contribute to restoring a sense of normalcy and security of the children. However, as Dr. Pherali emphasized, it is even more important to understand possible challenges for aid to education in conflict affected areas. Specifically, he stressed the importance of addressing political power that is related to education and the geopolitical interests that shape development aid; sometimes leading to neoliberal ‘shock interventions’ that in the end may do more harm than good.

Organisation

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).