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Education in Conflict and Emergencies



2018/19 Seminars

This seminar series is organised as part of scholarly activities within Centre for Education and International Development at UCL Institute of Education under the research theme Education, Conflict and Peacebuilding. The convenor of the seminar series is Dr Tejendra Pherali.

These events are free to attend but you are requested to register following the eventbrite links under each seminar.


Educating about disasters

Dr Ilan Kelman, Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health, University College London

Time: 5:30 – 7:30
Date: 25/10/2018
Venue: Room 642, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

An earthquake shatters Kathmandu and a hurricane slices through North Carolina. We hear that nature runs rampant, fighting to destroy us through these ‘natural disasters’. Science recounts a different story, that ‘natural disasters’ do not exist. Instead, we put ourselves in harm’s way and we fail to take measures which we know will avoid disasters, no matter what the environment does–including with respect to climate change. Educating about these scientific conclusions in order to generate successful attitudes, values, behaviour, and actions on disasters is not straightforward. Advice is needed from the audience to formulate appropriate educational pathways. This seminar will provide an opportunity to explore debates about the interactions between education and disaster risk reduction.

Register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/educating-about-disasters-tickets-50809981021


Use of technology for education in crisis situations
Dr Lyndsay Bird, Independent Consultant

Time: 5:30 – 7:30
Date: 15/11/2018
Venue: Room 642, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

As new technologies continue to be developed and existing technologies continue to penetrate deeper into developing and crisis-affected communities, some questions arise: What opportunities can new technologies offer a) educational tools/conduits for educational policy, planning, learning and teaching, b) as catalysts for overcoming obstacles facing education in emergencies and post-crisis situations, and c) for improving agencies’ capacities to implement their activities in these difficult contexts? This seminar will be an opportunity to discuss the range of options available for the role and application of technology to support education in crisis situations.

Refugee access to higher education in low-resource environments
Catherine Gladwell, Director of Refugee Support Network and Education in Emergencies Consultant for Jigsaw Consult

This seminar presents the findings from a year long research study which analyses different approaches to providing higher education for refugees. In recent years, a wide range of new initiatives have emerged in the refugee higher education field. These range from small camp-based and host-community programmes to large online learning platforms with theoretically unlimited reach. The study compared existing models offering access to higher education to refugee students in low-resource environments; delivered insights about how pedagogy can or should change when marginalised populations are at the centre of higher education; and has informed strategies for programmes providing higher education for refugees. The research engages with the full spectrum of provision, with a particular emphasis on programmes with a physical presence among affected populations. Five thematic areas are analysed in-depth: accessibility and participation, academia and organisational structure, technology, pedagogy, and impact and future. The study prioritises the voices of refugee students and those facilitating their learning, offering insight into what students consider to be good practices and challenges of the individual programmes in which they engage, as well as of the sector as a whole.

Register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/use-of-technology-for-education-in-crisis-situations-tickets-50810004090


New states challenged: Education, peacebuilding and statebuilding in post-conflict Kosovo and East Timor.

Dr Ervjola Selenica, Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex

Time: 5:30 – 7:30
Date: 13/12/2018
Venue: Room 642, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

While a vast body of studies exists on education and violent conflict, less attention has been devoted to the role of education in peacebuilding and statebuilding. Above all, little research has been conducted into how externally promoted efforts at rebuilding education systems may affect (or fail to affect) the consolidation of peace. The seminar will focus on the ways in which a variety of international actors shape national education systems in states that have emerged out of armed conflict, and how these systems reflect and affect peacebuilding and statebuilding.

Based on fieldwork conducted in Kosovo and East Timor, the seminar will be structured in three parts. First, it will map the hybrid governance of education reform and programming by identifying the main actors that have been part of the process. Second, it will focus on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of these reforms. Finally, after identifying the emerging forms of education systems, it will present the ways in which externally assisted education have reflected and affected processes of building the state and consolidating peace.

The seminar will show how post-war reconstruction in both cases has led to the emergence of externally-driven and hybrid education systems whereby priorities are set in the intersection between local and international actors, often lacking coordination. Presenting features of extra-territoriality and de-nationalization, such education systems are a combination of global education policies and contextualized local agendas. Rather than bringing the education system out of fragility, international interventions have determined and perpetuated a condition of dependency on international assistance. Humanitarian and stability imperatives have determined educational choices and priorities and education has neither addressed nor transformed root causes of the conflicts, missing the opportunity to contribute to social cohesion, change and justice.

Finally, the seminar will show how education has been a marginal sector within the broader political economy of peacebuilding and statebuilding, and a mere reflection of the principles and practices that underpin them. Rather than impacting on such processes, interventions in education in Kosovo and East Timor have reflected, legitimised and enhanced the prevailing models of peacebuilding and statebuilding, and in doing so, have incorporated their dilemmas, pitfalls and shortcomings.

Register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/new-states-challenged-education-peacebuilding-and-statebuilding-in-post-conflict-kosovo-and-east-tickets-50810022144


Improving the quality of early primary grade teaching and learning in Syria: Research and recommendations during anticipation of significant changes to Zones of Control

Jen Steele, Principal at Equitas Education and Team Lead for the research project “Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Syria” for Integrity

Time: 5:30 – 7:30
Date: 23/01/2019
Venue: Room 604B, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

The ‘Research to improve the quality of teaching and learning inside of Syria’ project sought to help DFID, its implementing partners, and the global education in crisis and conflict (EiCC) community strengthen and elevate the evidence base regarding G2/G3 teacher practice, child learning, and wellbeing in conflict-affected settings. Importantly, it sought to identify any correlations amongst these three areas of inquiry. Finally, it sought to identify any examples of existing best practices (as defined by a literature review on the topic for EiCC) or new innovations that could be elevated. As a whole, the project aimed to impact strategies and activities put forward for the education sector in Syria in 2019 at a time when the Ministry of Education in Damascus would be re-absorbing education service delivery responsibilities across a majority of the country for the first time since 2010. Ms. Steele will engage participants as active learners in exploring the challenges faced in designing the research project and carrying it out during active conflict. The seminar will touch on topics such as conflict sensitivity and research ethics, modification of research plans in response to changes in context, and ensuring that the research design is influenced but not solely defined by the existing evidence base, allowing the realities of the context to breathe life and meaning into it. It will explore how to balance political, operational, and technical considerations as the context changes around a research plan. Furthermore, Ms. Steele will share the findings of the research and its implications for both post-conflict Syria and the broader EiCC community as a whole.

Register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/improving-the-quality-of-early-primary-grade-teaching-and-learning-in-syria-research-and-tickets-50810042204


Expanding conceptualisations of socially just education for building peace with gender justice

Dr Elizabeth J.T. Maber
University of Cambridge 

Time: 5:30 – 7:30
Date: 20/02/2019
Venue: Room 604B, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

In this seminar discussion I draw together two areas of my recent work: analyses of the possibilities for sustainable peacebuilding and social justice through education practices in contexts of conflict and transition (Lopes Cardozo & Maber 2018) and the contributions of feminist activist spaces to social transformation through community education practices (Maber 2016; Maber forthcoming). I suggest that women-led civil society organisations occupy a distinctive position in mediating between varied community, state and international priorities, which are accentuated through the changing dynamics of situations of conflict and transition and further reinforced through cross-border movements. Attention to the alternative learning spaces that emerge from activist movements therefore indicates opportunities not only to advance and contextualise understandings of gender equality through education, but also opportunities to promote more inclusive, just and transformative learning environments which can support peacebuilding priorities.

I illustrate this discussion with examples drawn from empirical work that I have conducted in Myanmar and the Thai border between 2014 and 2017. Civil conflict, inter-communal violence and the marginalisation of ethnic and religious minorities have affected communities across Myanmar, both during and still after authoritarian rule by the military which has dominated the political landscape of the last sixty years. Women and girls in this environment have often found themselves exposed to the gendered effects of conflict and violence while also disadvantaged from positions of political, professional and social leadership. Women’s organisations and feminist activist groups have, however, been active in seeking to contest gender inequalities and challenge the hierarchical institutions that sustain them. Many women’s organisations have therefore mobilised non-formal education as a means of countering dominant narratives, expanding the reach of their social activism and presenting alternative models of female citizenship. In drawing attention to examples of practice from women’s civil society organisations, my intention is to highlight learning practices that represent an alternative approach to building peace with social justice through education.


Learning through struggle: What do social movements learn through their struggles for social change?

Patrick Kane, Doctoral Scholar, University of Sussex

Time: 5:30 – 7:30
Date: 13/03/2019
Venue: Room 604B, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL