Education, peace and refugee contexts

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.

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