Education is a significant contributor to peace, and appears in two of the 24 indicators in the Positive Peace Index produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Education can lead to peace and be a part of ‘building back better’ by supporting the transformation of the security situation, political institutions, economic regeneration and social development. However, education policies can also contribute to the escalation of conflict if they are poorly designed or implemented.
Key lessons about how education can contribute to peace, recovery, and reconstruction include the following:
- Education should be inclusive, affordable, and accessible. It should address inequality and exclusion and provide opportunities for previously marginalised communities.
- Education can help develop identities and deal with the legacies and grievances of previous conflict, improving social cohesion and moving societies towards reconciliation.
- The provision of an education service may in itself reduce the risk of conflict, if a population feels provided for.
- Education and skills training can help reduce the risk of people turning to or returning to conflict, and can support economic regeneration.
- Education of former combatants can reduce grievances and support reintegration by giving ex-combatants skills needed for work.
- Early Childhood Development interventions have been shown to have a positive impact on peace.
- Access to education can reduce attitudes towards and participation in violence, although it can also raise awareness of injustice and discrimination.
- Social, political and cultural issues must be addressed alongside the delivery of education.
- Conflict sensitivity should be incorporated into educational planning to ensure that curricula and delivery do not reinforce inequalities or create divisions.
- Schools must be peaceful environments.