Peacebuilding, Social Justice and Education in Aceh, Indonesia

Project rationale

The research project aims to bolster conceptual, methodological and empirically informed understandings of the complex relationship that exist between education and peacebuilding in conflict-affected settings. Using the case of Indonesia, this joint research project will explore dynamics underpinning the cultural political economy of education in conflict-affected regions of Indonesia to detail conditions under which education either exacerbates or mitigates existing conflict triggers (economic, social, religious, political, environmental). A specific area of attention is to explore and understand teachers’ agency as strategic and political actors within such settings.

picture 1 education and conflict

The first phase of this project (2013-2015) will focus on the province of Aceh, at the northwestern tip of Indonesia. The province was the scene of a nearly 30 year separatist struggle from Indonesia that led to the deaths of thousands of citizens and destruction of significant amount of infrastructure. This was then exacerbated by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. Following the tsunami, development assistance flowed in to repair destroyed infrastructure, and in 2005 a peace accord was signed between the separatist rebels and Indonesian government. Since that time, and with extensive involvement from the international community, the focus has been on reconstructing the state and reforming the education sector.  Significant changes have occurred in regards to educational governance, the school curriculum, teacher support mechanisms, and modes of instruction in the classroom. Increased attention has also been given to the Islamic school system that serves a sizeable portion of the province’s children.  Nonetheless, the province faces a number of development challenges following the signing of the peace accord—such as the reintegration of former combatants, the restoration of social cohesion within splintered communities, and an increasing divide between remote and urban areas of the country—which have a bearing on the function, role and purpose of education in this post-conflict period.

Education and conflict 2

Collaborative learning
The two leading researchers have developed a methodological framework based on Cultural Political Economy Analysis and the Strategic Relational Approach that informs and connects various smaller thematic studies that are being conducted by a research team comprised at present of academics and postgraduate students from the University of Amsterdam and the University of Auckland.  This joint research project aims to build a longer term, interdisciplinary, cooperative learning community between researchers, postgraduate students, practitioners/civil society, policy-makers and educators who are engaged in scholarly and policy-oriented debates regarding the role of education in peace-building and social justice in conflict-affected and fragile-state settings globally.


This website will provide open source access to ongoing research outputs. Please find below the outputs so far.

Conference papers

  • Lopes Cardozo, M.T.A, Srimulyani, E., Irawani, M. and Affiat, R. (2014)  Women, Leadership and Peacebuilding Education: a Complex Spectrum of Female Dayah Leaders’ Agency in Aceh, Conference Paper for ICAIOS V conference, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, 18 November 2014.
  • Lopes Cardozo, M.T.A., & Shah, R. (2013)  Building peace and social justice through education in Aceh, Indonesia? conference paper presented at UKFIET, Oxford, September 2013.
  • Shah. R., & Lopes Cardozo, M.T.A. (2013) A critical conceptual framework to study the multiscalar politics of education for sustainable peacebuilding and social justice in Aceh, Indonesia, conference paper presented at WCCES, Buenos Aires, June 2013.

Master theses

Within the framework of this research project, master students have also carried out investigations in this field. Their studies are listed below:

For more information, please contact the authors: Mieke Lopes Cardozo (; or Ritesh Shah (