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Teaching peace after conflict: the effect of teachers' agency and social identity on the effectiveness of peace education 
Line Kuppens (KU Leuven/ University of Antwerp)
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Start time:
29 June, 2017 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
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Short Abstract:

Literature on peace education implicitly assumes teachers to be neutral implementers of peace curricula. This panel invites papers that challenge this assumption by focusing upon teachers' agency and social identity in fostering or impeding peace and reconciliation in post-conflict societies.

Long Abstract

In the aftermath of conflict, many sub-Saharan African countries have incorporated peace education in their school curricula to promote reconciliation by offering a peace-building narrative to counter prevailing conflict narratives (e.g. Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, DRC, Rwanda). Generally, these reforms are unaccompanied by teacher training. Hence, they implicitly assume that teachers are neutral providers of peace-building narratives, thereby overlooking the potential mediating effects of teachers' agency and social identity. Classrooms nonetheless resemble "black-boxes" in which a teacher can choose how and to what extent a textbook is utilized, and whether or not to draw on other types of information. As such, they can act as gatekeepers challenging or reinforcing the official curriculum, expressing personal views, or interpreting social reality for his/her students. As a consequence, rather than a neutral actor, teachers have been found to stimulate prejudices and stereotypes, or reinforce negative views of the 'other'. This is particularly disquieting on the African continent, where inequalities between ethnic and religious groups have led to violent conflict and group polarization, and where teachers, like all other citizens, may have themselves been educated according to conflictual worldviews. This panel invites contributions that examine the views and perceptions of teachers on peace, conflict, and inter-group relations, and their potential mediating effects on peace education in African post-conflict societies.

Accepted papers: