SEATTLE — Violent conflict involves at least two parties using physical force to resolve competing interests. They can vary in length, intensity and localization, so educational systems could suffer in various ways.
Developing countries’ educational systems, in particular, suffer negative effects from violent conflict. The number of teachers and students able to attend school decreases. In addition, the quality of teacher training and the physical state of the school also suffer.
Violent conflict often destroys or significantly damages schools and educational systems. In fact, the World Bank reported that 50 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s schools required repair or reconstruction due to violence in the area.
Violent conflict could also cause the death or displacement of teachers, staff and students. Over 2 million children have died as a direct result of violent conflict throughout the prior decade. Additionally, more than two-thirds of the primary and secondary school teachers died or had to leave their homes during the Rwandan genocide.
So, what happens when one of lesser intensity occurs? The Households in Conflict Network (HiCN) analyzed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the Second Intifada (2000-2006) in order to understand this.
“[…] the Israeli-Palestinian conflict […] can be considered as a low-intensity one as compared to most other violent conflicts. This implies that the functioning of the basic elements of the economy (such as the education system) were never interrupted in the West Bank, in contrast with […] countries affected by extreme violent conflicts and genocide episodes.”
To understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s impact on education, they studied its effects on high-school students. Researchers examined test-score results at the school-leaving examination. These students play a crucial role in the future development of the country’s economy.
HiCN found a significant and negative effect of conflict on the probability of a student’s ability to pass the exam. They concluded that as the intensity of the conflict near the school increased, the probability that a student would pass decreased.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has taken steps to provide the world with quality basic education with the Education for All (EFA) movement. At the World Education Forum in 2000, 164 governments identified six core goals to meet by 2015:
- To expand and to improve comprehensive early childhood care and education;
- To ensure that all children have access to complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality by 2015;
- To ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs;
- To achieve a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015 and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults;
- To eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and to achieve gender equality in education by 2015; and
- To improve all aspects of the quality of education.
According to UNESCO, nations have made considerable progress, but they did not succeed in all six core goals.
To improve educational policy responses during and after conflict periods, researchers studied the complex effects of violent conflict on education. As a result, UNCESCO announced the Education 2030 pledge as a part of the sustainable development goals. It aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
– Alice Gottesman
Photo: U.N. Multimedia