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Education in Conflict and Emergencies



Educating for Rights in a Context of Protracted Conflict – The Case of the Occupied West Bank 

By Tejendra Pherali, on 17 May 2017

Dr Mai Abu Moghli

UCL Institute of Education 

5:30pm – 7:00pm, 22nd March 2017
Room: 728
UCL Institute of Education (20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL)

The Palestinian Ministry of Education (MOE) was established in 1994 following the signing of the interim peace agreement (the Oslo Accords) between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip inherited a weak, neglected and fragmented education system. However, over the years the MOE was able to increase the number of schools and decrease illiteracy rates. An important departure from the old curricula was the inclusion of human rights and citizenship education. In this presentation, II will focus on three questions related to the introduction of HRE in PA schools: 

What are the reasons behind the introduction of HRE in Palestinian Authority (PA) schools?

  1. How do stakeholders make meaning of and implement HRE? 
  2. What is the relationship between HRE and the struggle against the Occupation and for political and social change? 

Drawing upon ethnographic data generated from six months field research trip(s), and  examination of available literature, I will problematise the theoretical basis of HRE and highlight the importance of indigenous knowledge and strategies used to bring the decontextualised global HRE to the nuanced and politicised local, leading to a reconceptualisation of HRE that provides an alternative understanding of its potential contribution to the emancipation of the individual and collective within a polarised, multi-layered, and fast changing context.  


Dr Mai Abu Moghli is a Palestinian/British human rights practitioner and academic who specialises in human rights education. Mai holds a PhD from the UCL Institute of Education and a Master’s degree in human rights from the University of Essex. Her research focuses on human rights education in Palestinian Authority schools in the Occupied West Bank. Mai has also published articles on Palestinian/ Syrian refugees. She has worked extensively in the field of human rights in the MENA region and taught human rights theory and human rights education in both the UK and in the Occupied West Bank.

Teachers and peacebuilding: A systematic literature review

By Tejendra Pherali, on 17 May 2017

Dr Lindsey Horner

Senior Lecturer in Education Studies
Bath Spa University

5:30pm – 7:00pm, 22nd February 2017
Room: 731
UCL Institute of Education (20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL)

This presentation reports of the findings of a systematic and extensive literature review on teachers and peacebuilding conducted as part of the Research Consortium on Education and Peacebuilding, a collaboration between the University of Sussex, the University of Amsterdam and Ulster University and funded by UNICEF and the ESRC.

Focusing on teachers and their role in peacebuilding the presentation will map existing literature to shed insight on teacher identity, roles and agency in conflict affected areas, relating this to the project’s orientating framework of a just peace, drawing on conceptions of social justice.  Exploring the debates around, for example, educational outcomes, accountability, governance and teacher education it asks what role teachers, as key agents in education systems, have in promoting peace, social justice, reconciliation and mitigating violence. The presentation will also highlight some of the dilemmas and contradictions in the literature and field, acknowledging the double-sided nature of teacher agency which can equally promote or obstruct peace and the complexities of the contexts in which they work.

Dr Lindsey Horner is an academic and researcher in the field of Education and International Development, specialising in critical peace education and participatory research. She obtained her PhD from the University of Bristol in 2011, which explored critical peace education as the interactions of a multifarious understanding of peace and practices to facilitate moving these understandings forward (the work of translating peace) in conflict effected communities in Mindanao. The commitment to social justice, ethics and participant representation found in her seminal research form the foundation of her research commitment and driving motivation behind her research trajectory to date, which has seen me progress onto contributions to research projects exploring the theoretical resources, processes and benefits of co- designed/constructed/produced research and the role of teachers in peacebuilding.

She is currently a senior lecturer in International and Global education at Bath Spa University where she continues to develop these interests.

Conflict, education and fragility in post-2001 Afghanistan: A political economy analysis

By Tejendra Pherali, on 17 May 2017

Arif Sahar
Doctoral Scholar, UCL Institute of Education

5:30pm – 7:00pm, 25th January 2017
Room: Elvin Hall
UCL Institute of Education (20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL)

Afghanistan is often characterised as a ‘failed’ or ‘fragile’ state in terms of state ‘functionality’, lacking in capacity to provide security and wellbeing to its citizens and generating security threats, violent conflict and terrorism. Since 2001, education has become a major victim of Afghanistan’s protracted crisis that historically underpins radical ideologies, international military interventions and fragile democracy. Drawing upon qualitative interviews with educational officials and development practitioners in Afghanistan and critically examining the literature in the area of education, conflict and international development, we argue that Afghanistan’s education is caught in the nexus between failing security conditions, weak governance and widespread corruption, resulting in capture of educational spaces for radicalisation and violent extremism. We also highlight some critical issues relating to educational programming in conflict-affected contexts.

Arif Sahar is currently pursuing his PhD at UCL Institute of Education. His research focuses on the political economy of education in post-2001 Afghanistan. Arif completed his MA in Political Science at UCL. Currently, Arif is researcher at University of Derby, College of Education. Prior to his appointment, Arif worked as Senior Adviser to the Afghan Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Finance. He has also worked for numerous international development partners, including World Bank, UNDP and DFID. Arif has widely published in peer-reviewed journals, most recently in Central Asian Survey, Asian Journal of Political Science and The Diplomat. Arif has also translated books from English into Persian/ Dari.

Beyond the Two Faces of Education – Towards a Nomothetic Understanding of Education in Conflict and Emergencies

By IOE Blog Editor, on 5 May 2017

It has been 15 years since UNICEF published The Two Faces of Education – Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children. Drawing on a large number of case studies, that monograph systematically enumerated and analyzed the positive and negative potential impacts of education in a range of conflict-prone cases. The Two Faces of Education has been called the ‘Bible for education programming in conflict settings,’ and has been the basis for countless articles, theses, policy papers, and conference panels. While the talk will touch on the origin, structure and content of Two Faces of Education, its primary concern will be on how (and why) we, as a community of applied researchers, practitioners, and policy makers, must take the next step beyond the initial analytical observations of that study towards research which is (still) empirically-grounded, ethnographically rich, and practice-focused, but which ultimately generates nomothetic, rather than idiographic, understanding. This argument is rooted in the observation that the myriad studies on education in conflict-prone and emergency settings have tended to generate case-specific insights and recommendations based on individual (or a small number of) projects, programmes, and countries. A comprehensive, global, assessment has yet to be developed or undertaken. The talk will conclude with a discussion with the audience on how we might nudge our work in this direction — inside and outside the academy.

For PDF Copies of Kenneth Bush and Diana Salterelli (2000). The Two Faces of Education – Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children.  UNICEF Innocenti Centre: Florence: http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/insight4.pdf

Engaging young people with conflict through the narratives of former combatants in Northern Ireland

By IOE Blog Editor, on 5 May 2017

Thursday 3 December 2015, 17.30 – 19.00, Room 802, 20 Bedford Way, UCL Institute of Education, London

In this seminar, Lesley Emerson, of Queen’s University Belfast presents her recent paper, “Engaging young people with conflict through the narratives of former combatants in Northern Ireland.” This will be done as an interactive workshop. The aim of this paper is to discuss findings from an impact evaluation of a curriculum programme designed to engage young people directly with ‘conflict’ though the narratives of former ‘paramilitary’ combatants in Northern Ireland. The programme seeks to develop within young people an understanding of the nature, reality and complexity of conflict and transition to peace. In particular it seeks to engender a sense of ‘political generosity’, that is a confidence in young people in their own political/cultural identity alongside a respect for the rights of others to hold alternative political views. The research suggests that foregrounding the nature of conflict and the processes of conflict transformation in the curriculum, through the narratives of those who were directly involved in conflict (arguably the most contentious ‘voices’), has a positive impact on young people. Further it suggests that addressing the nature of conflict through first-hand accounts assist young people in making sense of their current socio-political context, thereby challenging their previous stereotypical and prejudiced views of the ‘other’ community.

Lesley Emerson is a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast. She is interested in research which seeks to make a difference in children and young people’s lives, particularly in the context of their school experience. Her research interests fall into two themes:

  • Citizenship education, human rights education, and political education – with a focus on transitional or conflict affected societies and, in particular, the role of former combatants in education for citizenship
  • Children’s rights – with a focus on children’s rights in education, children’s participation rights and participatory research methods.

Her research projects focus primarily on the substantive issues associated with these themes. In addition, she collaborates with colleagues who wish to apply a children’s rights-based approach to researching their own substantive areas.

Emerson (2012) Conflict Transition and Political Generosity

Engaging young people with conflict through the narratives of former combatants in Northern Ireland (presentation)

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the ‘prison to peace: learning from the experience of political ex-prisoners’ educational programme

From Prison to Peace: Learning from the experience of political ex-prisoners

Why education in emergencies goes unfunded. And how to fix it

By IOE Blog Editor, on 5 May 2017

Thursday 29 October 2015, 17.30 – 19.00, Room 802, 20 Bedford Way, UCL Institute of Education, London

For our first seminar in the 2015/2016 Network for Research in Education, Conflict and Emergencies annual seminar series, Rob Williams OBE, CEO of War Child UK, discusses the effects of failing to fund education in emergency and chronic conflict situations. He looks at why so many children in conflict zones miss out on school and the impact this has. Using the Syrian refugee crisis as a case study, Rob illustrates the far reaching implications of failing to fund education, and examines the various proposals for solving the issue, including the idea of a Global Fund for Education.

Rob Williams is Chief Executive of War Child, a UK based charity that promotes child protection, education and livelihoods in a range of countries affected by war, including Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rob worked in emergency response in Africa and Asia for many years, with Save the Children, the British Red Cross and Concern Worldwide. Rob was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to protecting and improving the lives of children, including those affected by conflict overseas.

Working in the field of education, conflict and emergencies: Professional Transitions

By IOE Blog Editor, on 7 April 2017

Thursday 28 January 2016, 17.30 – 19.00, Room 822, 20 Bedford Way, UCL Institute of Education, London

Anna Wilson, UCL Institute of Education

Sébastien Hine, Save the Children – Education Research Adviser
Ellen Turner, UCL Institute of Education – PhD Candidate
Julia Finder, Save the Children – ‎Education Technical Advisor
Arran Magee, Overseas Development Institute – Research Officer

Online contributors:
Davide Coltri, Save the Children – Humanitarian Surge Team
Peter Simms, Children in Crisis – Programme Manager for Afghanistan

The transition from academic training to a professional career in the field of education in emergencies can be full of uncertainties.

The purpose of this panel discussion is to highlight how some of the graduates make successful transitions to exciting careers after graduating from the university and also to showcase their research that has contributed to expand knowledge about educational provision in challenging circumstances. This event will also provide an excellent opportunity for networking to those who are aspiring to pursue professional careers in the field of education, conflict and emergencies.

Development in reverse’? A longitudinal analysis of armed conflict, fragility and school enrolment

By IOE Blog Editor, on 7 April 2017

Tuesday 13th May 2014, 17:30 – 19:00, Room 802, 20 Bedford Way, Institute of Education, London

Dr Robin Shields (University of Bath) and Dr Julia Paulson (Bath Spa University)

In this seminar, we present a longitudinal analysis of cross-national data on armed conflict, state fragility, and enrolment in primary and secondary schooling. The study is motivated by questions raised in the 2012 Human Security Report, which challenges the widely-held assumption that conflict is necessarily detrimental to educational outcomes. Our findings suggest that growth in enrolment is significantly lower in conflict-affected countries but that the effect is dependent upon countries’ overall enrolment level. However, when we control for fragility, the effect of conflict is not significant, and fragility offers more explanation of changes in enrolment levels. We use these findings to scrutinise how state fragility is defined and operationalised using multivariate statistics.

Education and Peacebuilding in post-conflict and post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia

By IOE Blog Editor, on 7 April 2017

Thursday 3rd April 2014, 18:30 – 20:00, Nunn Hall, 20 Bedford Way, Institute of Education, London

Dr Mieke Lopes Cardozo (University of Amsterdam)

In this seminar, Mieke will discuss the relationship that exists between education and peace building drawing on cultural political economy analysis and social justice frameworks.
As part of a three-year research collaboration between researchers and practitioners at the University of Amsterdam, the University of Auckland and the Institute for Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies (ICAIOS), Mieke will demonstrate how this conceptual scheme can be applied to particular research sites – in this case Aceh Province, Indonesia. As a region significantly impacted by 30 years of conflict and several recent natural disasters, this research aims to highlight the multifaceted and complex position of education vis-à-vis reconstruction in contemporary Acehnese society – with all the possibilities and constraints that exist for building a lasting peace in the province.


The humanitarian system in 2014

By IOE Blog Editor, on 7 April 2017

Monday 10th February 2014, 1730-1930, Clarke Hall, 20 Bedford Way, Institute of Education, London

Imogen Wall, Coordinator of Communications with Affected Communities, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Imogen specialises in improving communications between aid agencies and survivors of disasters in humanitarian emergencies.  Her field experience includes a number of humanitarian emergencies, including 18 months in Aceh following the 2004 tsunami, 2 years working on various projects in Sudan and Darfur, and 14 months in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010. She has worked for UNOCHA, World Bank, Save the Children, UNDP, BBC World Service Trust, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation among others. Before going into humanitarian work, Imogen worked as a journalist for the BBC World Service and reported for The Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Economist and The Telegraph among others.