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Education, Social Identity and Conflict

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This article explores the role of comparative education in examining how schools and education systems are positioned with regard to ethnic and other tensions. It uses case studies from a range of countries where the author is involved, and develops a typology of three types of articulation of education with the political situation:

a) education post-conflict (Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzogovina)

b) education in countries of continuing tension

c) education in countries avoiding conflict endemic in the region (the Gambia, Malawi)

The dual questions are what make some schools resilient in times of conflict and what contribution they make to non-violence—or conversely to continuation of tension. The article looks at the role of government schools, but also at higher education, teacher education and military schools. Key domains for analysis are social, legal and curricular: there are firstly the social issues of power, gender and corruption, secondly the legal issues of legislation for democracy, non-violence and power-sharing in education; and thirdly the curricular issues of citizenship education, political education and rights education, in both the formal and hidden curriculum. The analysis raises questions of how research can be conducted on impact assessment of educations’s role in conflict, whether short, medium or long-term.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Birmingham

Publication date: January 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • Educational Practice and Theory is a bi-annual, independent, refereed journal which, since its launch in 1978, has become an important independent forum for original ideas in education. It publishes innovative and original research in the area. Its focus is both applied and theoretical and it seeks articles from a diverse range of themes and countries.

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