When working in conflict zones, peacebuilding practitioners often overlook the crucial role that education can play in solving conflict. Expert Stacia George makes the case for a shift in the way we think about crisis intervention.
Those of us who work in peacebuilding pull out every tool in our toolbox to solve conflicts — we talk about infrastructure, jobs, agriculture, governance, and youth programs.
But youth programs tend to focus on out-of-school individuals aged 18-35 years old, not school-aged children. And rarely do people talk about supporting children — nor education — unless it is about rebuilding schools, vocational training, or jump-starting immediate education services. While broader support to the education system remains undiscussed.
This needs to change.
Too often, those of us in the conflict field do not reach out to education experts, even though there are resources and experts who work specifically on education in conflict settings, such as the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies.
Many conflict experts view education as a long-term effort, too slow to provide merit in the immediate-term, while others feel too stressed by a crisis to find the time to figure out who to turn to and what to do — but they should. Education is a solution that peacebuilders should consider, and peacebuilders could learn a lot from educators on how to change human behavior.