Centre for International Education (CIE)

Engaging Teachers in Peacebuilding in Postconflict Contexts

Teachers play an important role in educational outcomes which have the potential to contribute directly to peacebuilding. Teachers can influence learners' identities, model and impart values of mutual respect and tolerance, and teach the skills required for civic participation and employment.

These competencies are particularly relevant where there are histories of conflict where structural inequalities persist and where youth have participated in violence. In such places, teachers hold the potential to assist peacebuilding in important ways.

Download the Engaging Teachers in Peacebuilding: Leaflet 2017 [PDF 439.62KB]

The project

Funded by the ESRC-DFID joint fund for poverty alleviation, this two-year project investigates the role of teachers in peacebuilding in the post-conflict contexts of Rwanda and South Africa. It is led by members of the Centre for International Education at the University of Sussex, in collaboration with the University of Bristol and in-country research partners.

This research is imperative for several reasons:

Firstly, while literature indicates the importance of teachers in peacebuilding, little is known about how they are trained and deployed; how and what they teach; what textbooks they use; and the conditions in which they teach in relation to peacebuilding.

Secondly, this research will help to strengthen the evidence base in these areas, providing valuable support to international agencies and national governments to target educational programmes most effectively.

Lastly, the project will generate robust evidence in an under-researched field where evidence on how teachers engage with each other, with communities and students in challenging environments is sparse or lacks rigour.

The project runs from September 2014 - September 2016.

Research aims

The main research question guiding the study is:

To what extent do education and peacebuilding interventions in Rwanda and South Africa promote teacher agency and capacity to build peace and reduce inequalities?

To answer this question, the research team will explore six inter-related themes:

  1. Global and national policy contexts framing teachers' work
  2. Teacher recruitment, deployment and management
  3. Curriculum and textbook reform
  4. Teacher professional development (initial and continuing)
  5. Teacher accountability and trust
  6. Teacher pedagogy

The overarching aim of the study is to provide insights into how teachers are framed and supported in their roles as peacebuilders, how they experience this support, how their practices and attitudes are influenced, and the outcomes for learners. The specific aims of the research are to:

  • examine how teachers and teaching support education for peacebuilding
  • enhance national and global policy dialogue and understanding about teachers as agents of peacebuilding
  • create and communicate new knowledge to policy experts, policy-makers, civil society organisations at local, national and international level on the effects of education peacebuilding interventions
  • develop indicators and a metrics system for evaluating the efficacy of educational interventions concerned with teachers as agents of peacebuilding.

Research approach

Research is conducted in partnership with local academics and institutions in Rwanda and South Africa to provide context-sensitive insights on the efficacy of education peacebuilding innovations in these countries. Fieldwork takes place across three sites in each country and includes a rural location in each. Using a mixed-methods approach, data is collected through interviews, lesson observations (both teacher training lessons and school lessons), focus groups, teacher profiling, textbook and curriculum analysis, and school records.

A multi-level framework is used to consider (i) the macro-context of global and national political economy, global actos and policy, and (ii) selected programme interventions in the field and sites of implementation to explore the way interventions are mediated and shaped in practice.

 

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