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Voices from Fragile States: Education in conflict and fragility

Posted on 12 April 2013

As part of the University of York's 50th Anniversary, experts from around the world are meeting in New York to promote the role of education in helping to deliver peace and long-term development in fragile or conflict-affected countries.

Discussion of how best to promote stability in fragile states often lacks input from the countries themselves. So the University of York, in collaboration with Columbia University, UNICEF, and the Scholar Rescue Fund, brings together a broad coalition of participants from fragile states, countries emerging from conflict, donors, UN agencies, and academic experts to discuss the role education can play in fragile and post-conflict situations. 

We want to convince donors and local decision-makers that education at all levels can build bridges between communities and provide a safe space and sense of normalcy during instability

Professor Sultan Barakat

As well as aiming to increase local capacity in the education sector, the conference will provide a platform to improve communication between decision-makers and international funders to promote stronger South-North dialogue.

This initiative developed out of Education in Conflict and Emergencies, a joint programme of research and advanced learning between the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit (PRDU) and the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) at the University of York. The interdisciplinary programme aims to develop academic thinking and build best practice on the part education can play in transforming conflict and mitigating humanitarian emergencies. Through empirical research and analysis, the programme engages directly with policy and practice, with a focus on the leading international agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Professor Frank Hardman, from IEE, said: “Around 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by political and criminal violence. The impact on development is dramatic, with high levels of malnutrition, child mortality, and crippled education systems. No low-income fragile or conflict-affect country has yet achieved any of the UN Millennium Development Goals.”

Education is not a core­­ priority in most international responses to conflict and crises, receiving around 2 per cent of humanitarian aid. The conference aims to develop a more comprehensive understanding of its role in building peace and promoting development at national and local levels.

Professor Sultan Barakat, Director of PRDU, said: “We want to convince donors and local decision-makers that education at all levels can build bridges between communities and provide a safe space and sense of normalcy during instability. Education does not only contribute to the protection of civilians during times of crisis, it can also produce a measurable change in society which is vital to recovery in the longer term.”

The conference, to be held at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, is supported by UNICEF and the Institute of International Education. Panellists and participants will attend from the UK, US and around the world including Burma/Myanmar, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Nepal, Palestine, Syria, Sudan and Uganda.

Notes to editors:

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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