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The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Engaging teachers in peacebuilding in postconflict contexts: evaluating education interventions in Rwanda and South Africa

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Principal Investigator: Yusuf Sayed. Lead Organisation: University of Sussex

Co-investigators: Naureen Durrani; Mario Novelli; Angeline M Barrett

This research seeks to answer the question: To what extent do education and peacebuilding interventions in the two countries promote teacher agency and capacity to build peace and reduce inequalities? The proposed study is anchored within the third of the overarching questions of this call, and aimed at understanding the conditions under which education interventions focused on teachers can promote peace, and mitigate and reduce violence with a view to identifying measures and processes that can increase the effectiveness of such programmes in conflict-affected situations. The research seeks to critically evaluate a series of programme interventions aimed at improving and enhancing the peacebuilding role of teachers through a multi-scalar, mixed method study that seeks to link the everyday practices of teachers in conflict affected contexts with the local, national and global actors and factors that shape their practices and behaviour.

South Africa and Rwanda have been selected because both countries have emerged peacefully out of intense and violent conflict in the 1990s and now have two decades of postconflict experience to draw from. Secondly, they have been important sites for a range of postconflict interventions in the education sector, and in particular on teacher related interventions. Thirdly, they allow for a comparison of similar interventions across two countries which have since 1994 has put in place important policy interventions to promote peace and social cohesion which warrant close scrutiny. Fourthly, both countries enable examination of the complex interrelationship between inequality and peace and social cohesion in education.

The overarching aim of the study is to identify elements of education policy interventions that have enabled teachers to become active agents of peacebuilding in postconflict countries and that may inform future interventions. These objectives will be achieved through an empirically grounded evaluation of the nature, implementation, and impact of large-scale interventions that are designed to support teachers as peace-builders in schools in postconflict contexts. We will look at specifically at interventions focusing on teachers, found in both South Africa and Rwanda, including interventions related to 1) Teacher training 2) Teacher recruitment, deployment and management 3) Teacher performance and practices 4) Curriculum and textbook reform.

Research will include a political economy analysis of the context of these interventions in each country in order to critically embed the research in the local context, and will draw upon a realist evaluation approach (Pawson, 2005) which seeks to understand the underpinning programme theory of each of the interventions, as well as the challenges and outcomes.
Research will also include a global mapping of peacebuilding interventions aimed at teachers, interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders in each country, and detailed classroom observations in three key sites in each country.

The research is linked to, and supported by, a UNICEF 4 year $160 million Education, Peacebuilding and Advocacy Programme (2012-2016), which will ensure its relevance, influence and impact in practitioner, policy and academic domains.

It will feed into debates related to the role of education in peacebuilding with the opportunity to both improve the quality of UNICEF 's and international agencies' peacebuilding and education programmes and to influence a broader United Nations debate on education's place in postconflict peacebuilding interventions.

The research team comprises an internationally diverse and interdisciplinary team of experts from the UK, South Africa, and Rwanda with expertise in teacher education, peacebuilding and conflict studies. The research team will work closely with UNICEF in order to maximise, local, national and global impact and build knowledge and capacity in this important field.

Further Resources:

The project aims for societal impact, through generating and communicating new knowledge in postconflict contexts on:
(i) how teachers can be enabled to reduce violence and build peace in schools; and
(ii) how education contributes to positive peace in wider society.

Its impact on economic growth is indirect. Teachers are key to improving learning outcomes of school students. Preparing young people to pursue peacebuilding and sustainable livelihoods is a necessary condition for economic growth.

The main beneficiaries of the project are learners and teachers in contexts where the findings are taken up, leading to changed behaviours and professional practices that reduce violence and build peace in schools. Improving the school environment and processes for learners supports improved learning outcomes in relation to skills associated with peacebuilding but also across the whole curriculum. This means children and young people are better prepared to lead sustainable livelihoods, reducing poverty and widening the skill base available to support economic growth.

Impacts on beneficiaries:
(i) Teachers and learners in postconflict contexts, where findings are taken up will benefit from improved design of education initiatives that build positive peace and reduce violence in schools, and raise learning outcomes, better preparing learners for sustainable livelihoods.
(ii) National policy makers and education officials and staff of international agencies in South Africa and Rwanda will acquire new knowledge on impact of peacebuilding of education programmes and contextualised advice on programme design. They will expand capacity to take up new knowledge from education research as research design and findings are shared through the project lifespan.
(iii) Grassroots stakeholders groups such as local NGOs, teacher unions, parents associations and civil society organisations involved in education, will benefit from access to project findings and expanded capacity to take up findings from research through involvement in research design and research briefings.
(iv) International agencies, such as DfID, UNICEF and IRC, who invest in, design or implement education programmes in postconflict contexts, and policy makers in ministries of education will benefit from guidance on programme design derived from systematic evaluation of selected initiatives across two country contexts.
(v) Academics and researchers will benefit from new knowledge and understanding of the role of teachers in peacebuilding, adding to the limited evidence base.

Impact legacy will be achieved within the two study countries through a series of consultation and research briefing meetings together with ongoing email and telephone contact with key staff. Consultation in phase one will be integrated with interviews with 'policy elites' and will feed into research design, so that research meets knowledge needs of specific peace education initiatives. Ensuring the research is relevant to programme objectives and organisational priorities will build a sense of research ownership and commitment to implementing findings amongst our partners.

International impact will be achieved through engagement with staff in the head offices of international agencies, such as UNESCO, and ensuring that findings are related to their current priorities. We will reach international agency staff through participation in the conferences they usually attend, through one-to-one meetings and email contact.
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Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Sch of Education and Social Work
Fund Start Date: 
September 1st, 2014
Fund End Date: 
November 30th, 2017
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