Teaching peace after conflict: the effect of teachers' agency and social identity on the effectiveness of peace education
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2017 at 14:00
Literature on peace education implicitly assumes teachers to be neutral implementers of peace curricula. This panel invites papers that challenge this assumption by focusing upon teachers' agency and social identity in fostering or impeding peace and reconciliation in post-conflict societies.
In the aftermath of conflict, many sub-Saharan African countries have incorporated peace education in their school curricula to promote reconciliation by offering a peace-building narrative to counter prevailing conflict narratives (e.g. Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, DRC, Rwanda). Generally, these reforms are unaccompanied by teacher training. Hence, they implicitly assume that teachers are neutral providers of peace-building narratives, thereby overlooking the potential mediating effects of teachers' agency and social identity. Classrooms nonetheless resemble "black-boxes" in which a teacher can choose how and to what extent a textbook is utilized, and whether or not to draw on other types of information. As such, they can act as gatekeepers challenging or reinforcing the official curriculum, expressing personal views, or interpreting social reality for his/her students. As a consequence, rather than a neutral actor, teachers have been found to stimulate prejudices and stereotypes, or reinforce negative views of the 'other'. This is particularly disquieting on the African continent, where inequalities between ethnic and religious groups have led to violent conflict and group polarization, and where teachers, like all other citizens, may have themselves been educated according to conflictual worldviews. This panel invites contributions that examine the views and perceptions of teachers on peace, conflict, and inter-group relations, and their potential mediating effects on peace education in African post-conflict societies.
Chair: Line Kuppens
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Teaching South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
South African teachers are tasked with discussing a very painful history in high school classrooms, classrooms which are often only superficially integrated. This paper investigates how History teachers struggle to facilitate this discussion while teaching the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is a compulsory section of the History syllabus taught in the final year of secondary school. As a subject, History has been positioned by politicians as a tool for reconciliation, nation building and social cohesion amongst young people. This paper challenges that view by exploring how different interpretations of the TRC can be deeply divisive among young South Africans. The History classroom can sediment these divisions because teachers highlight certain interpretations of the TRC at the expense of others. Self-reported accounts from History teachers demonstrate some of the constraints on classroom discourse that result in this asymmetry. Discourse is constrained by the demographics of the school staff, the institutional culture of schools, by teachers' fears of how learners might react, by curriculum stipulations and by the power relations of wider South African society. The teachers' accounts shed light on how they negotiate these constraints as well as how they experience learners' resistance to official narratives and interpretations. The final section of the paper outlines the implications of teachers' selective histories for reconciliation among the post-apartheid generation.
Teachers in between peace and survival in post- conflict settings; A special reference to Liberia
This paper posits an analysis of teachers in post-conflict Liberia and how they are caught in between ensuring peace through teaching peace education, and trying to survive tough economic, political and social conditions.
Research in recent times as increased awareness at the international level on the phenomenon of education for peacebuilding. Current policy debates on the matter in relation to teachers as implementers of peace education in post-conflict societies tend to be conducted in very general terms. This paper argues that, to ensure the success of education for peacebuilding, the role of teachers is paramount and there is a need for in-depth understanding of teachers in post-conflict societies, especially in the Sub-Saharan African region.
In so doing the paper posits an analysis of teachers in post-conflict Liberia and how they are caught in between ensuring peace through teaching peace education, and trying to survive tough economic, political and social conditions.
This paper interrogates existing perspectives on teachers' agency in post- conflict settings and teachers as implementers of peacebuilding programmes in affected societies in academic journals and programme documents and develop an argument in favour of a greater understanding of teachers being caught in the midst of political, economic and social struggles in the process of carrying out their 'expected' duties. Taking a discourse analysis approach, to examine such concepts as 'teachers' agency', 'peace education' and 'social identity', the paper identifies key issues for research.
The relations between such conceptual issues and their consequences 'on-the-ground' are further explored through field work in Liberia. The findings highlight the importance of conceptual clarification and understanding for policy processes that have implications for the access, equity and quality of education.
In-group bias and stereotyping among secondary school teachers in Kenya: an impediment to teaching peace in post-conflict settings?
This article expands the study of stereotyping and prejudice in the classroom to Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been overlooked within social psychology despite its history of inter-group conflict. In particular, we analyze stereotypes among secondary school teachers in Kenya.
An extensive body of research in Western settings has studied the effect of teachers' ethnic stereotypes and prejudice on pupils' performance and inter-group relations at school. As such, teachers' group-based expectations of pupils' performance would significantly lower the scholarly achievement of pupils from stereotyped groups, and would contribute to the persistence of existing stereotypes. School diversity itself would, moreover, have important implications for inter-group relations. None of these studies, to our knowledge, have been replicated in Sub-Saharan Africa. More generally, the state of the art in social-psychological research on inter-group attitudes in the area is sparse. Nevertheless, the region has been the scene of many inter-group conflicts in the past decades. In Kenya, for example, ethnic tensions were exacerbated prior to and in the aftermath of the presidential elections of 2007-2008, leading to a post-electoral crisis that cost the lives of an estimated 1000 people. This article attempts to expand the study of stereotyping and prejudice at school to a Sub-Saharan setting by studying teachers' ethno-religious stereotypes, while controlling for school diversity. Analyzing results from a large-scale survey (N=925) among secondary schools teachers in Nairobi, we find that popular societal ethno-religious stereotypes are present among teachers and that teachers are prone to a positive in-group bias. In line with the theory of peace education, we hence argue that teacher training in Kenya needs to sensitize teachers on prejudice reduction in order to break the cycle of politicization of ethnicity in the country.
The secret life of war. Congolese refugee schools and the production of meaning about armed conflict
This contribution. based on ethnographic research in a Congolese refugee camp, explores how school participates in the production of meaning about armed conflict beyond peace education as a distinct teaching subject.
In the past two decades, the delivery of education in refugee camps has been critically examined in terms of the relationship between education and conflict. In this paper we argue for the analytical productiveness of decentering analysis beyond peace education as a distinct teaching subject. We suggest that in order to understand the role of school in teaching peace it is useful to take into account the broader social and institutional context and the diversity of actors implicated in schooling (teachers, family, State, NGOs. students).
Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a Congolese refugee camp focusing on the local governance of schools and everyday interactions inside and outside of classrooms, our contribution seeks to situate teaching about conflict and peace — and the lack thereof — within broader processes of physical and symbolic boundary-making between school and the "outside" world. How is school constructed, in the context of a refugee camp, as a utopian space holding the promise of peace? What kinds of boundaries are drawn, in constant interaction with the social and institutional landscape, between what is supposed to be inside and outside? And what meanings do teachers and students ascribe to school's silence about conflict and peace?
We aim to explore how school participates in the production of meaning about armed conflict in a context where there is hardly any explicit teaching about the recent history of the Congo and about peace. This raises the question as to the other, more subtle ways in which conflict is problematized and re-worked at school.
Vers un futur paisible en République Démocratique du Congo? Le 'visage de Janus' du système éducatif
Cette présentation aborde la façon dont le système éducatif de la République Démocratique du Congo participe à la compréhension de l'histoire des conflits et à la diffusion des valeurs, des attitudes et des comportements paisibles aux jeunes apprenants de l'école secondaire.
Cette présentation contribue à la discussion du rôle de l'éducation dans les pays ayant traversé des conflits. Après deux décennies des conflits successifs ayant écumé les provinces de l'Est, la République Démocratique du Congo a manifesté des intentions de régler les problèmes des conflits par son système éducatif. Cette volonté s'est affichée par la réforme du programme du cours d'Education Civique et Morale au secondaire en 2007 avec le concours des partenaires internationaux. Ce dernier peint un tableau d'intentions se focalisant sur les aspects de paix qui propose des thèmes répétés dans toutes les classes de l'école secondaire portant sur la culture de la paix, la lutte contre la discrimination, la démocratie, les droits de l'homme, la coexistence pacifique, la tolérance, etc. Néanmoins, ces intentions apparaissent obsolètes au sein du système éducatif du fait de la négligence du cours d'Education Civique et Morale par le programme national, la persistance des pratiques pédagogiques intolérantes et moins démocratiques comme les enseignements magistraux et les châtiments corporels sur les apprenants. Ces aspects démontrent un caractère ambivalent du système éducatif congolais en ce qui concerne ses intentions de participer à l'enseignement de la paix. Cet article se construit sur des données collectées à Goma et à Bukavu à l'Est de la RD Congo grâce aux interviews avec les enseignants et leurs formateurs ainsi qu'avec d'autres acteurs du système éducatif et aux observations participantes.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.