Conflict and insecurity are among the most significant development challenges of our time and considerable barriers to realizing the right to education for all children and young people.
Access to quality education is a right that should be sustained even in the most difficult circumstances. During conflict, education can offer knowledge and skills that provide protection, while in the longer term, it can help develop values and attitudes that prevent conflict and build peace. Education has the potential to build the capacities of children, parents, teachers and community members to prevent, reduce and cope with conflict and to promote equality and peace.
Education has crucial linkages to a society’s social, economic and political spheres. Education is central to identity formation, can promote cohesive societies and contribute to state-building. On the other hand, education can undermine all of these processes. Inequitable provision of services or biased curriculum and teaching methods can reinforce existing exclusion and stereotypes.
Thus, education needs to be delivered effectively and equitably to ensure that it is a driver of peace rather than war.
The Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme
The four-year Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme (2012-2015) – designed as a partnership among UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands, the national governments of participating countries and other key partners – is an innovative, cross-sectoral programme focusing on education and peacebuilding.
Goal: To strengthen resilience, social cohesion and human security in conflict- affected contexts, including countries at risk of – or experiencing and recovering from – conflict. Towards this end, the programme will strengthen policies and practices in education for peacebuilding.
The programme will focus on five key outcomes:
- increase inclusion of education into peacebuilding and conflict reduction policies, analyses and implementation.
- increase institutional capacities to supply conflict-sensitive education.
- increase the capacities of children, parents, teachers and other duty bearers to prevent, reduce and cope with conflict and promote peace.
- increase access to quality and relevant conflict-sensitive education that contributes to peace.
- contribute to the generation and use of evidence and knowledge in policies and programming related to education, conflict and peacebuilding.
Fourteen countries across East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, and West and Central Africa are currently taking part of the programme.
Conflict analysis: As a first and crucial programme step, UNICEF’s approach to education and peacebuilding in conflict-affected contexts will be informed by a comprehensive conflict analysis of the education system, located within broader cross-sectoral and peacebuilding processes. For this purpose, target participating countries are receiving training in conflict analysis and conflict-sensitive programming.
The findings of the conflict analyses will inform programming at all levels – school, community, education sector and national level. UNICEF’s approach will also be guided by a focus on equity, capacity development, sustainability, gender sensitivity and participation.