Education, Conflict and Displacement

Since the mid-1990s, the relationship between education, conflict and international development has risen up the global development agenda. The focus on education in conflict-affected states was initially prompted by a realisation that reaching the international “Education for All” targets was impossible without addressing conflict-affected states where 50 per cent of the world’s out-of-school children lived.

There was also recognition of the particularity of delivering education in conflict-affected states, requiring new policies and approaches. This impetus was further consolidated after the events of 9/11 when powerful northern governments became increasingly focused on the relationship between zones of conflict and their own (in)security. Issues around education refugees and asylum seekers and the challenges of integration have similarly  raised the profile and importance of education.

Research within this theme explores the complex relationship between education and conflict:

  • What role can education systems play in contributing to both war and peace?
  • What role does education play prior to the outbreak of conflict, during conflict, in the immediate aftermath of conflict, and in long-term post-conflict reconstruction?
  • What roles do state, non-state, national and international actors play in the global governance of education in conflict affected states - and how can we ensure that they contribute to long-term, sustainable peacebuilding?
  • How can we strengthen the voice of civil society in conflict-affected contexts to promote peace with social justice – in and through education?
  • How is education for refugees and IDPs funded, organised and implemented?
  • How do refugees and refugee communities experience and navigate life and education in exile?

Since 2010, this had led to a series of research projects on the relationship between education and peacebuilding, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF. We have also undertaken studies of the role of teachers in peacebuilding and social cohesion, funded by ESRC/DFID, in Rwanda and South Africa. Other research has focused on the securitization and militarization of aid to education in conflict affected contexts (funded by the Open Society Foundations) and more recently, we have secured a major grant from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, to carry out research on Social Movement Learning and Knowledge Production in the Struggle for Peace with Social Justice, with case studies in Colombia, Nepal, South Africa and Turkey. We also have a strong focus on Refugee Education. Up until recently, this was centred on refugee resettlement and structures of exclusion in the north. ‘Optimising Refugee Resettlement in the UK. A Comparative Analysis’ (see details and project papers under 'Recently completed projects' on the Research projects web page) is an ESRC funded project (2014-18) which explores the outcomes for refugees resettled to the UK in 2010 or earlier. Recently we have begun to do research on refugees and education outside of the UK with two new projects. The first was led by Professor Yusuf Sayed on Refugee Education in Ethiopia and Somalia and funded by the European Union (see details under the project 'Safe and Quality Education for Girls and Boys in Displacement Situations in Ethiopia and Somalia'). The second was led by Dr Linda Morrice on Refugee Education in Jordan and funded by the Queen Rania Foundation (see details under ‘Assessment of Education Strategies and Interventions Adopted in Jordan’). In 2020, Professor Mario Novelli, was awarded a major GCRF Network Plus Grant (2020-2024) to develop work on the Political Economy of Education in Conflict Affected Contextsthe PEER Network.

The research theme is co-led by Professor Mario Novelli and Dr Linda Morrice, with engagement from Professor Yusuf Sayed, Dr Sean Higgins and other colleagues in CIE. We also have a lively and critical mass of doctoral researchers carrying out research in this important field.