Education, peace and refugee contexts

Part of 2017/18 Seminar Series

19 October, 2017
Time: 17.00-19.00
Room: Jeffrey Hall
UCL Institute of Education (20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL)
Please register here for this seminar

Violence prevention and peace education workshops in the Central African Republic, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan

Dr Kirriliy Pells, Lecturer in Childhood at the Department of Social Science in the UCL Institute of Education.

Globally, an estimated 1.5 billion people are living in areas affected by conflict. The human cost is incalculable yet evidence on what works to prevent conflict and build peace is limited. The Aegis Trust has pioneered one innovative approach involving the direct engagement of people that have experienced genocide and mass violence with people at risk today to prevent impending violence. Integral to this approach has been exchange visits and peace education workshops with political, civil society and religious leaders and youth in the Central African Republic, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan with the aim of supporting and stimulating locally-led peacebuilding efforts. This presentation discusses findings from a qualitative research evaluation of this organic approach to peacebuilding. While small-scale, the evaluation found profound, transformative effects for participants and promising evidence of wider impacts beyond those directly involved. The presentation also reflects on challenges encountered related to the conflict-affected environments in which people are living and working, before drawing out key implications for the field of violence prevention and evaluative work in this area.

Building Resilience to Genocide through Peace Education: Concepts, Methods, Tools and Impact

Mariana Goetz, Head of Advocacy & Learning at the AEGIS Trust

Understanding mass atrocity through a “continuum of violence”, has allowed Aegis Trust and its partners to conceptualise stages of dehumanization that can lead to genocide. These stages include in-grouping, out-grouping, indifference, scapegoating, demonization, persecution, etc. We can picture them graphically in a downward trend allowing the development of self awareness about developments in our own community, one’s own attitudes and behaviours building a range of skills and values. Aegis Trust has developed a peace education programme based on building up the skills and values that constitute the opposite of these stages of dehumanisation that we have termed a “continuum of benevolence”. How does one reverse dehumanization of the “other”? How does one build social cohesion when starting from indifference? Can teaching Openness, Acceptance, Empathy, Personal Responsibility, Trust, Caring and other positive values combined with Critical Thinking skills build resilience to identity based violence? And how can progress and impact be measured? Building on the lessons learned from a 3 day Colloquium in Peace Education held in Kigali in February, Aegis Trust is developing a tool to assess impact of is peace education programmes, which may help provide deeper insights as to whether and how such interactive peace education work can be effective.

But some are more equal than others: Understanding the global education response for refugees and migrants

Dr Stephanie Bengtsson, Research Scholar at Wittgenstein Centre for Demography & Global Human Capital

In the United Nations (UN) New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, participants in the first ever high-level Summit for Refugees and Migrants acknowledged their shared responsibility to take a “humane, sensitive, compassionate and people-centred” approach to managing refugees and migrants through international cooperation, which recognises countries’ “varying capacities and resources to respond” (UN General Assembly, 2016, para.11). However, it has become clear that, while most High Income Country (HIC) governments have signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and/or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and tend to have stronger, more stable institutions than Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) (and thus greater ‘capacities and resources to respond’), a coordinated response to education provision for refugees and migrants within HICs is still lacking, and, LMICs, who host over 85% of the world’s refugees, continue to bear the brunt of the global burden.

In this presentation, I provide a broad overview of the global education response for refugees and migrants. My theoretical framework is informed by Tikly’s (2016) recent work on understanding the international (educational) development agenda as a global governance regime, characterised by a complex matrix of power relations, competing and converging interests, and tensions and agreements. As Tikly points out, the agenda has primarily been led by the so-called Global North, and in its own interests. This has led to the reinforcement of the socially-constructed North-South binary, where the South continues to be seen in deficit terms as the source of the world’s problems, and the North, as the exporter of the solutions to these problems (Akyeampong et al., 2006).

I compare and contrast the state of education provision for refugees and migrants in HIC and LMIC contexts in order to capture the complexities and dynamics of the refugee crisis as it relates to education. This presentation considers the political, legal and practical dimensions of delivering education interventions to populations characterised by displacement and erratic mobility. It concludes with the contention that a new mind-set is required, particularly among HIC governments, one which allows for a more effective educational response by challenging the traditional North-South dichotomy and supports the building of a more productive, more cohesive, and happier global society.

You can view the full list of 2017/18 Seminar Series here.



Educating for Rights in a Context of Protracted Conflict – The Case of the Occupied West Bank

Dr Mai Abu Moghli
UCL Institute of Education 

5:30pm – 7:00pm, 22nd March 2017
Room: 728
UCL Institute of Education (20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL)

The Palestinian Ministry of Education (MOE) was established in 1994 following the signing of the interim peace agreement (the Oslo Accords) between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip inherited a weak, neglected and fragmented education system. However, over the years the MOE was able to increase the number of schools and decrease illiteracy rates. An important departure from the old curricula was the inclusion of human rights and citizenship education. In this presentation, II will focus on three questions related to the introduction of HRE in PA schools: 

1. What are the reasons behind the introduction of HRE in Palestinian Authority (PA) schools?

2. How do stakeholders make meaning of and implement HRE? 

3. What is the relationship between HRE and the struggle against the Occupation and for political and social change? 

Drawing upon ethnographic data generated from six months field research trip(s), and  examination of available literature, I will problematise the theoretical basis of HRE and highlight the importance of indigenous knowledge and strategies used to bring the decontextualised global HRE to the nuanced and politicised local, leading to a reconceptualisation of HRE that provides an alternative understanding of its potential contribution to the emancipation of the individual and collective within a polarised, multi-layered, and fast changing context.  

Dr Mai Abu Moghli is a Palestinian/British human rights practitioner and academic who specialises in human rights education. Mai holds a PhD from the UCL Institute of Education and a Master’s degree in human rights from the University of Essex. Her research focuses on human rights education in Palestinian Authority schools in the Occupied West Bank. Mai has also published articles on Palestinian/ Syrian refugees. She has worked extensively in the field of human rights in the MENA region and taught human rights theory and human rights education in both the UK and in the Occupied West Bank.



Teachers and peacebuilding: A systematic literature review

Dr Lindsey Horner
Senior Lecturer in Education Studies
Bath Spa University

5:30pm – 7:00pm, 22nd February 2017
Room: 731
UCL Institute of Education (20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL)

This presentation reports of the findings of a systematic and extensive literature review on teachers and peacebuilding conducted as part of the Research Consortium on Education and Peacebuilding, a collaboration between the University of Sussex, the University of Amsterdam and Ulster University and funded by UNICEF and the ESRC.

Focusing on teachers and their role in peacebuilding the presentation will map existing literature to shed insight on teacher identity, roles and agency in conflict affected areas, relating this to the project’s orientating framework of a just peace, drawing on conceptions of social justice.  Exploring the debates around, for example, educational outcomes, accountability, governance and teacher education it asks what role teachers, as key agents in education systems, have in promoting peace, social justice, reconciliation and mitigating violence. The presentation will also highlight some of the dilemmas and contradictions in the literature and field, acknowledging the double-sided nature of teacher agency which can equally promote or obstruct peace and the complexities of the contexts in which they work.

Dr Lindsey Horner is an academic and researcher in the field of Education and International Development, specialising in critical peace education and participatory research. She obtained her PhD from the University of Bristol in 2011, which explored critical peace education as the interactions of a multifarious understanding of peace and practices to facilitate moving these understandings forward (the work of translating peace) in conflict effected communities in Mindanao. The commitment to social justice, ethics and participant representation found in her seminal research form the foundation of her research commitment and driving motivation behind her research trajectory to date, which has seen me progress onto contributions to research projects exploring the theoretical resources, processes and benefits of co- designed/constructed/produced research and the role of teachers in peacebuilding.

She is currently a senior lecturer in International and Global education at Bath Spa University where she continues to develop these interests.

Education in Conflict and Emergencies Seminar Series

Conflict, education and fragility in post-2001 Afghanistan: A political economy analysis

Arif Sahar
Doctoral Scholar, UCL Institute of Education

5:30pm – 7:00pm, 25th January 2017
Room: Elvin Hall
UCL Institute of Education (20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL)

Afghanistan is often characterised as a ‘failed’ or ‘fragile’ state in terms of state ‘functionality’, lacking in capacity to provide security and wellbeing to its citizens and generating security threats, violent conflict and terrorism. Since 2001, education has become a major victim of Afghanistan’s protracted crisis that historically underpins radical ideologies, international military interventions and fragile democracy. Drawing upon qualitative interviews with educational officials and development practitioners in Afghanistan and critically examining the literature in the area of education, conflict and international development, we argue that Afghanistan’s education is caught in the nexus between failing security conditions, weak governance and widespread corruption, resulting in capture of educational spaces for radicalisation and violent extremism. We also highlight some critical issues relating to educational programming in conflict-affected contexts.

Arif Sahar is currently pursuing his PhD at UCL Institute of Education. His research focuses on the political economy of education in post-2001 Afghanistan. Arif completed his MA in Political Science at UCL. Currently, Arif is researcher at University of Derby, College of Education. Prior to his appointment, Arif worked as Senior Adviser to the Afghan Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Finance. He has also worked for numerous international development partners, including World Bank, UNDP and DFID. Arif has widely published in peer-reviewed journals, most recently in Central Asian Survey, Asian Journal of Political Science and The Diplomat. Arif has also translated books from English into Persian/ Dari.

Launching the 2015/2016 Seminar Series

We are looking forward to beginning our annual seminar series for 2015/2016 this week with Rob Williams OBE, CEO of War Child UK speaking on ‘Why education in emergencies goes unfunded. And how to fix it.’ Rob’s going to be using the Syrian context to explain the far-reaching repercussions underfunding education in emergency situations has.

Rob Williams, Thursday 29th October 2015, 5:30pm – 7pm, Room 802 at the UCL Institute of Education in London.  Register for a free place here.

We’ve also confirmed our speaker for the second session on the 3rd December: ‘Engaging young people with conflict through the narratives of former combatants in Northern Ireland.’ Lesley Emerson from Queen’s University Belfast is coming along to present her findings from a piece of research on a curricular programme in Northern Ireland designed to engage young people directly with ‘conflict’ through the narratives of the former ‘paramilitary’ combatants.

Lesley Emerson, Thursday 3rd December 2015, 5:30 – 7pm, Room 802 at the UCL Institute of Education. Register for a free place here.

There will be five more sessions in 2016, we well as a workshop on early years in emergencies. More details to follow!

Looking back at 2014/2015… 

As we are about to begin our third annual seminar series, we’ll just take a minute to look at the busy and productive year we’ve just had here at the Network.  We had a great response to the seminars, with nearly 700 people registering for eight sessions with a great range of topics and speakers.

We had academics, including our very own Dr Tejendra Pherali and Dr Chris Williams in May, Tejendra speaking on the humanitarian response in Nepal and Chris on how to research emergencies following the launch of his new book, “Doing International Research, Global and Local Methods.” Professor Frank Hardman from the University of York in January, presented on the role of education in building peaceful societies using Somalia as a case study. We also heard from Dr Kelsey Shanks, fresh from finishing her PhD speaking on education and ethno-politics and the role of identity in the Iraqi school system in October, her research is now published – find it here.

We heard from both researchers and practitioners – Susan Nicolai and Sebastien Hine from the Overseas Development Institute presented their review of the literature on investment for education in emergencies in April, and the education team from Save the Children, Emily Echessa, Charlotte Balfour-Poole and Hannah Snowden presented on some of their programmes and lessons learned in education response in conflict contexts in March.

We heard from DfiD’s Dr Chris Berry last November, a session on how to improve learning outcomes in humanitarian and protracted crises and Dr Lyndsay Bird from the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) in February. And from a different angle all together, Francis Rolt from Radio for Peace Building in December on the principles of using media as a peacebuilding tool.

We also participated in the International Network for Education in Emergencies’ (INEE) pilot training for their early childhood development module in December last year, (the final training package is now available from their website), and were able to submit our feedback as part of the consultation.

Tejendra’s fundraising for Nepal following the earthquakes of late April raised over £5,000 for the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Our online presence grew hugely, our Facebook group having now not far off 2,000 members and a growing twitter following (@NRECE_IOE) and we do encourage everyone not only to join or follow, but to join in the conversation. These are spaces to prompt thoughts, share research, news, promote events in the field, research notes or opportunities, publications and explore the areas of education and conflict and education in emergencies more broadly.

That’s it – a great year behind us, a great year ahead – please come and join in!

Seminar change!

Our final seminar for 2014/15 has been expanded to include discussion of the recent earthquakes in Nepal. The session is now titled Research emergencies and the cultural  political economy of humanitarian response in Nepal. Chris Williams will present on how technology can be incorporated into research in emergency situations and Tejendra Pherali will discuss various aspects of the humanitarian response to the recent earthquakes in Nepal.

Time: Wednesday 27 May 2015, 17.30 – 19.00
Place: Room 804, UCL Institute of Education

Please register for free at our Eventbrite site