Symposium 2015: Education and Armed Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa

Education and Conflicts in the Post-Soviet Space

New York City, USA

The effects of armed conflict on education are well documented: destruction of school infrastructure, forced migration and exodus of skilled people such as teachers, diverted state funding from social sectors such as education to security, and so on. However, the effects of education on armed conflict are less well understood. The West’s approach to education in the developing world has generally been “more is better,” as evidenced by movements like “Education for All”; but the Boko Haram case in Nigeria, for example, forces us to rethink the relationship between education and armed conflict. Rather than see schooling as a panacea we need to understand the meaning of education as it actually exists in various contexts to understand the complex relationships between formal education, state fragility, and armed conflict. The goal of the symposium is to bring together scholars who are thinking about the complex links between education and armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa in new and critical ways. Our work builds on many fields, including political science, education, anthropology, development studies, and peace and conflict studies.

The 2015 Arnhold Symposium will bring together critical scholars working on the complex relationship between education and armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. The focus is on Sub-Saharan Africa because although there is a growing body of global comparative work on this topic, there are important parallels across African contexts that a more meso-level approach will elucidate. The goal is a collection of studies grounded in the realities of particular social and historical African contexts, so as to avoid the tendency to over-generalize and idealize the functioning of formal education systems to produce modern citizens. Forging a shared, detailed view of the diversity of educational experiences across our cases will—in the spirit of peace studies—allow us to more clearly understand both how education may be a site for production and reproduction of unjust or structurally violent political systems and how education may be a site for the creation of more just and peaceful social and economic possibilities in sub-Saharan Africa.

The experts of the symposium were