University of Cambridge > > Education, Equality and Development (EED) Group Seminars > The role of education in peacebuilding: an analysis of five change theories in Sierra Leone

The role of education in peacebuilding: an analysis of five change theories in Sierra Leone

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Childhood, Education and Wartime Seminar Series 2012

This paper raises a number of critical questions regarding the contribution of education to peacebuilding. Despite recent calls for greater collaboration between the two fields (UNESCO 2011), there is still a lack of clarity regarding the change theories through which education may contribute to peacebuilding processes. This paper outlines developments over the past decade in the field of education and conflict, before identifying five rationales for the ways in which education contributes to peacebuilding. The second half of the paper examines the translation of these rationales into practice. Sierra Leone is often regarded as a success story of UN peacebuilding and, 10 years post-agreement, offers the opportunity to examine a broad range of programming. Using data gathered during a two week field study (17–28 January, 2011), the paper reflects on five education programmes that operated in Sierra Leone in the post-conflict period. Semi-structured interviews were held with project personnel and beneficiaries, educational officials, students and graduates, community leaders and UN personnel to assess views on the contribution of education to peacebuilding, the rationales informing projects and challenges to implementation. A number of critical questions are raised regarding the lessons learned by the international community, its tendency to pursue its own agendas and its commitment to conflict transformation through peacebuilding.

Specialist in Education, Conflict and International Development

Christine Smith Ellison is a Research Associate in Education, Conflict and International Development at the UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster. Her work entails examining the linkages between education, conflict and the UN peacebuilding agenda, and undertaking political economy analysis of the education sector. Before joining the UNESCO Centre, she held positions at the Université de Montréal and the UNDP International Poverty Centre. She holds a First Class Honours degree in French and Anthropology from the University of Glasgow and an MPhil in International Development from the University of Oxford.

This talk is part of the Education, Equality and Development (EED) Group Seminars series.

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