Jack Salt, Blair Nagell, Amelia Willingham
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Chris Marsicano
We seek to understand how education systems and curriculums promote or hinder the peacebuilding process in post-conflict countries. In the intersection of education and human rights, scholars frame education as a main facilitator in understanding human rights through teaching regarding equity. On the other hand, research notes that education can intensify ethnic tension by forcing contact between groups and promoting objective standards. Broadly, current education scholarship lacks full closure regarding the most effective means to facilitate peacebuilding and reconciliation in post-conflict education structures. We chose the case studies of Kosovo, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Northern Ireland given the different points in history at which they experienced conflict and because their societies reflect various cleavages throughout the world. We examine how education intersects with the ethnic divisions in Kosovo and Nigeria; religious differences in Northern Ireland and Nigeria; and the ethnic and indigenous split in New Zealand.
The methodology involves a qualitative study of curricula or curriculum frameworks within each country: the Kosovo Curriculum Framework (KCF) and the parallel education system in Kosovo; the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) and the Religion and National Values (RNV) curriculum; the relationship between the Te Whariki Early Childhood Curriculum and the New Zealand Curriculum; and the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment (CCEA). The results of the paper center around the elements in the curriculums that directly connect with peacebuilding.
In the Kosovo case, the KCF humanities curriculum encourages students to cooperate and promotes a sense of multiculturalism, but the restrictive parallel system and limited access to mother tongue instruction hinders the peacebuilding process. In New Zealand, both the indigenous Te Whāriki curriculum and the New Zealand curriculum foster peacebuilding ideals such as community partnership and global citizenship respectively. However, the two curricula remain split along ethnic and cultural lines. Likewise, the national curriculum in Northern Ireland promotes values of cultural acceptance and understanding through various humanities subjects, yet leaves the implementation of such values to the discretion of teachers. In Nigeria, NERDC combined Islamic Religious Studies and Christian Religious Studies into one curriculum resulting in the RNV. The themes of the RNV that foster peacebuilding include social behaviors, national consciousness, and culture and social values; however, the combined teaching of two faiths may result in increased tensions.
We evaluate all four case studies’ curricular contribution to peacebuilding using three areas: instruction in the mother tongue, humanities, and classroom culture. Access to mother tongue instruction is vital for the inclusion of minority groups. Humanities curricula often incorporate peacebuilding themes such as cooperation, cultural diversity, and multiculturalism. Classroom culture encompasses issues such as teacher agency, overcrowding, segregation, and lack of funding. Our research contributes to the emerging field by identifying the imbalance between policy and classroom implementation, in order to examine the relationship between education and conflict, specifically through the role education plays in peacebuilding efforts.