Education Support in Times of Conflict : @PKO Now!

Seiko Toyama
Programme Adviser
September 7, 2012

Educational Support and Emergency/Humanitarian Aid

The importance of educational support during emergencies has been recognized recently. Previously the main missions of Emergency / Humanitarian Aid had been the following: commodity and food distribution, water supply source securement and its distribution, environmental sanitation, health, voluntary repatriation of refugees, and so on.1The reconstruction of safe, clean living environments is the most important aim in the wake of any conflict, but the knowledge and skills obtained in education are also essential for people to have good lives, and for the reconstruction and development of nations.2There are many anxiety-inducing factors in emergency situations, especially during conflict time, and the access to education during this period leads children and civilians to have: physical, psychological, and cognitive protection,3to secure space to play and to distribute food and other necessities of life with appropriate protection, and to learn knowledge and skills to protect ourselves from dangers and to live peaceful lives.45Thus, it's important to start programs to reconstruct education systems right after periods of conflict and emergency.

Summary of Education Support in Conflict Time

The major periods of conflict6have been clarssified into five stages: 1) non-conflict, 2) pre-conflict, 3) in armed-conflict, 4) transition out of violence, and 5) post-conflict. The classification lies in making a distinction among education in emergencies, and education for conflict prevention, and social and civic reconstruction undertaken by a sovereign national education authority and aid agencies.7It is important for children and civilians to receive appropriate educational support during each term. The education system as well as the lives of people and community will be seriously damaged once conflict happens. Therefore, it is important not only to normalize existing education system, but also to give support by responding to the needs of each conflict victim and community. These may include, for example, refugees, IDP , returners, people who lost their houses but did not emigrate, and so on.8

(img)Figure: Conflict Status and Type of Educational Initiative

Figure: Conflict Status and Type of Educational Initiative[9]

Education in Post Conflict

After conflict, the major purpose of educational support is the reconstruction and reintegration of damaged social, civic, and educational systems, and the prevention of conflict reoccurrence.10Since educational systems have the potential to either aggravate the conditions that led to armed conflict or to improve them, it is important to enable people and community; to work for peace-building, to prevent unnecessary further damage caused by conflict, to carefully operate education reconciliation, and to garner support for future development.11Furthermore, schools can be not only a place for education, food distribution, and nutrition support; they can also be a place for gender disparity reduction, for communities in general, and for community development. Thus, education can protect human life, and school can be a place to maintain and develop human life.12For these reasons, it is essential to support and invest in education in post-conflict nations for their early recovery. It's also important that various UN organizations, international organizations, and NGO s support and work together with local governments for educational reconstruction, and social reconstruction and reintegration through various educational support.

1Sinclair, Magaret. (2002).Planning Education in and after Emergencies. UNESCO IIEP, Paris.

2Yasuhide Nakamura, Seiji Utsumi, and Yasushi Katsuma. "International Humanitarian Emergency Relief" Nakanishiya Shuppan. 2008.

3In appropriate security conditions, physical protection may be enhanced by the provision of adult supervision and a safe place to play. Psychosocial protection is offered through opportunities for self-expression, the expansion of social networks, and access to structure and regular routines. By placing children in the social role of learners, education gives children in the social role of learners, education gives children a sense of purpose and self-worth. Finally, education contributes to the cognitive protection of children affected by conflict or crises by addressing specific living conditions that arise from conflict. This strengthens children's analytical abilities, and gives them the tools they need to develop skills for citizenship and life in peacetime. (IIEP, 2006).

4International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP). (2006).Guidebook for Planning Education in Emergency and Reconstruction.IIEP funded by UNESCO .

5The Sphere Project. (2011)The Sphere Project: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response.The Sphere Project.

6In this paper, "times of conflict" indicates a sequence of conflict stages including pre-conflict, in conflict and post-conflict; and "in conflict" indicates the term during specifically "armed conflict."

7Tawil, S. & Harley, A. (2004).Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion, UNESCO and International Bureau of Education, Geneva.

8Same as [4].

9International Bureau of Education. (2003).Curriculum Change and Social Cohesion in Conflict Affected Societies Colloquium Report, p. 11, IBE ( UNESCO ) Colloquium, Geneva, 3-4 April 2003.

10Same as [5].

11The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank. (2005).Reshaping the Future: Education and Postconflict Reconstruction.The World Bank.

12Nicolai, S. & Triplehorn, C. (2003).The role of education in protecting children in conflict(Humanitarian Practice Network Paper 42). London: Overseas Development Institute.