Plenary 4: Conflict, Crisis and Education
August 23, 2011 – 1:45 p.m.
||Marleen Wong, University of Southern California (USC)
Reuben Brigety II, U.S. Department of State
Nigel Roberts, World Bank
||Yolanda Miller-Grandvaux, USAID Office of Education
This session focused on the relationship among crisis, conflict, and education and presented three perspectives on this topic. The moderator, Yolanda Miller-Grandvaux from USAID’s Office of Education, noted that the field of education and conflict is just six years old. Assessments in the field have recently been conducted and data are just emerging showing how inequalities in education contribute to increased violence. The internationally adopted paradigm that emerged from 2006-2008 seeks to answer to what extent education contributes to, and mitigates, conflict.
Reuben Brigety II from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) discussed PRM’s experience in emergencies, the programs PRM supports, and the challenges of providing education in a crisis setting. He stressed that humanitarians and development actors must interact, develop coordination, and share information with each other.
Nigel Roberts from The World Bank presented the World Development Report 2011, which focuses on modern violence. He discussed how the violence of the Cold War has been replaced by another type - criminal violence - that is more intractable and less prone to resolution. Countries that have been able to break the cycle of violence have done so through recreating confidence in public and collective action, and reforming and strengthening their institutions, including security, justice, and livelihoods, which can take a generation or more. He noted that education in these settings has the power to change the psychology that is so dominant in creating violence, and that it has the power to move people out of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Marleen Wong, Assistant Dean of USC, discussed the steps the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has taken to mitigate the impact on students of crises and conflict. Since the 1990s, ED has developed programs to deal with readiness and emergency management, among other programs. ED also has created a model that explains the four phases of emergency management: prevention-mitigation (identifying hazards that are present), preparation, response, and recovery. Wong also spoke of how schools are the first place parents, students and communities turn after a tragedy.
Key take away points included the fact that the field of conflict and its relationship to education is only six years old; the first series of research studies looking at this relationship is very recent. Institutional reform and recreating confidence in collective action are keys to breaking the cycle of violence, but can take a generation or longer.