Decolonising Peace Education In Africa

Lead Research Organisation: Open University
Department Name: Faculty of Arts and Social Sci (FASS)


Several African countries have been marred by decades of war, violence and conflict. Despite concerted peacebuilding efforts they have struggled to find stable, durable pathways to peaceful societies. Peace education can play a critical role in engendering the knowledge, values, skills and attitudes required to prevent and reduce conflict but so far it has had limited effects. Part of the problem lies in the pedagogies and curricula that underpin peace education which, much like the wider peacebuilding project, are grounded in Eurocentric and liberal values, principles and methods. There have also been increasingly insistent, even violent, demands to decolonise the wider African curriculum but this has largely remained at the level of critique. New materials generated within local communities and representative of their knowledges and values, including of peace, are yet to be embedded in teaching materials to support those most affected by conflict. This project will address that gap. It addresses the question: What are the different knowledges and values underpinning peace and how can these practices be connected and compared across countries to create curriculum content and mode of delivery in informal and formal, Secondary and Higher Education (HE), in order to decolonise peace education?

The project will, for the first time, provide new data based on Arts and Humanities methodologies on how peace is understood within displaced and marginalised communities. Researchers, community workers and communities in conflict will connect to produce a state of the art of existing knowledge. These methods are often dialogic and can reveal long-held community perspectives in unique ways. This data will then be collated, compared and evaluated so as to draw out lessons of existing peace practices and their underlying knowledges and values. Teaching materials will be developed and delivered through 14 weeks of teaching to young people who have had interrupted study due to conflict and are aged 16-35. The peace materials will be embedded in locally desired teaching materials ensuring that the teaching is meaningful. It will be evaluated by the teachers and students. These activities will be done in 4 Proof of Concept projects in Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe as part of Strand 1. In Strand 2 further projects will be undertaken to enhance and expand these initial findings. The values and knowledges of peace will be compared to identify similarities in how they can be approached and understood. They will be synthesised and evaluated as part of Strand 3. A peace education framework will be coproduced collaboratively at a network meeting. Three Open Educational Resources will be hosted in order to provide a freely available that can influence peace education teaching for years to come. The framework will also be embedded in HEI's teacher training with an initial reach of a minimum of 12,000 trainees per year in Strand 1 and a further 8,000 thereafter. Training will also be offered to community-based organisations providing informal learning to ensure that we offer the benefits of the project to those who are vulnerable but hard to reach. The project also seeks to embed these learnings in education policy (as in Zimbabwe) where it will ensure long-term legacy of the key findings. Throughout the project we will adopt a gender-sensitive lens - concepts, methodology and beneficiaries - as women and men are differentially affected by conflict.

The project will deliver at least 9 journal articles, 4 co-edited special issues of journals and an interdisciplinary edited book. In addition, the outputs from the arts and humanities methods will be showcased through exhibitions, performances and workshops. The project will also create a visible network of researchers, policy-makers and community organisations that work together to offer new meaningful knowledges, pedagogies and teaching materials for a decolonised peace education

Planned Impact

This network aims to respond to the pressing need for alternative knowledges and values in peace education curricula, which go beyond the Eurocentric dominated approaches of past decades, as a way addressing problems of conflict and violence in Africa. It will produce quality Open Educational Resource (OER) materials for peace education using a comprehensive framework for peace informed by local, contextualised, gendered knowledges and values underpinning peace. It will connect academics and community organisations across 19 projects, compare findings obtained through use of arts and humanities methodologies and create teaching materials for peace education in a range of African countries. The project has been designed to create impact at four levels:

1. Local communities: The most immediate impact will be on the communities who participate in projects. Arts and humanities methodologies will be used to capture local understandings, knowledge and values of peace among groups in conflict and use this evidence to produce a contextually sensitive peace framework. In doing so, the project will also embed and strengthen gender and intersectional analysis in decolonising peace and education research. The materials will be delivered across 14 weeks to those who are out of school. The content of this teaching will be co-designed to meet the demands of potential students and will ensure that women and girls whose educational trajectories are affected by conflict are included. The teaching will be evaluated for efficacy and relevance. After completion of the 19 projects community-based members will be trained to deliver this teaching. This informal education will directly benefit those who have suffered educational inequality due to conflict.

2. Educational institutions: Those involved in teaching will benefit directly and indirectly from this project. Findings will be integrated into teacher training materials which will provide new knowledge and skills while building capacity for quality education in HEIs. In Strand 1 at least 12,000 students per year will have access to this material. Embedding materials in local educational policies through the support of government ministries of education will ensure longevity and a legacy from which future students will benefit for years to come.

3. NGOs and peace-building practitioners in Africa: While each project includes at least one country-based NGO to help maximise learning across different sectors, the network intends to draw in a range of organisations working on peace such as education providers, local communities and NGOs. They will draw on existing knowledge and projects encouraging critical evaluation and learning. Finally, the co-produced framework and OERs will have application and relevance for peace-practitioners across the world who deal with the legacy of conflict and are looking for local examples of solutions to embed in their peace education activities.

4. Policy makers: Governments are searching for locally relevant teaching materials in the context of the decolonisation agenda sweeping Africa. In-country networks will involve decision-makers across a range of levels, including Ministries of Education and Teacher Training networks so that each projects is aware of current peace education discourses and policies and aligns with national objectives, addressing areas of greatest need.

As partners, UNHCR will advise on the relationship between the educational materials created and the Global Compact on Refugees and their education mandate. The Global Campaign for Peace Education will enable this knowledge to be used to provide new perspectives to peace-workers trained in the global North. Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity will ensure that the materials have a wide reach among its grassroots representatives and are developed and delivered sensitively and ethically in order to decolonise peace education and contribute to stable societies.


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