Schooling for conflict transformation : a case study from Northern Uganda

Cunningham, Jeremy James (2014). Schooling for conflict transformation : a case study from Northern Uganda. PhD thesis The Open University.



Civil wars impede progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. As many conflicts erupt within a short time, it is important to know what may increase the chances of sustainable peace. Access to education is a factor but relatively little is known about the contribution of what students learn in school. This thesis aims to respond to a research gap by addressing the foll owing question: 'How can schooling contribute to conflict transformation?'

Significant curricular approaches that may be used after civil war - peace education, human rights education and citizenship education - are assessed for their strengths and weaknesses. As no single approach is found to be sufficient for conflict transformation, a framework is proposed based on three fundamental concepts: (i) truth seeking; (ii) reconciliation; and (iii) inclusive citizenship.

This framework is examined through a qualitative case study of curriculum in seven schools in a district in northern Uganda that is emerging from a twenty-year civil war. The curriculum of four primary schools, two secondary schools, one special school and one teacher training college was studied over a three-month period. A structure of knowledge, skills and values was used to research the framework at a detailed level. It is found that schools exhibit good socialization of reconciliation values and some development of problem-solving and communication skills. There is some understanding of human rights, but little knowledge of history, or of local, national and international political/legal systems. There is minimal development of discussion and critical thinking skills.

It is argued that the framework can be used to investigate other schools and to inform the design of a curriculum that can contribute to conflict transformation, with the ultimate aim of reducing the risk of civil war re-eruption.

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