The Role of Peace Education in the Process of Conflict Transformation

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Peacebuilding actions for sustainable solutions begin with shifting mindsets of war to the mindsets of peace. Education is the tool to be used in this process. Discussions about conflict transformation are natural occurrences after outbreaks of conflicts, however usually the main conflict resolution rhetoric predominantly entails the focus of discussion on issues such as territorial integrity, return of IDP’s, and maintaining international support on the issues of non-recognition, this has especially been the case in the context of conflicts in the Caucasus. In this region, apart from internationally-supported peacebuilding efforts through engagement of civil society actors in peacebuilding and confidence-building processes, national efforts that would address local community peacebuilding needs are not countless. One of the contributing factors to enforcing the mindsets of war, regretfully, have been the education systems. They have been used as a tool to implement nationalist policies aimed at building enemy images and dehumanizing the “Other”, preparing the populations for war, portraying the conflict as historical and unsolvable, sustaining mobilization for the war efforts. According to a leading voice in critical pedagogy Freire, education is designed to serve political agendas (Freire, 1985 ). In other words, as long as the state controls and mandates education, it cannot be seen as a neutral disseminator of knowledge but a tool to promote particular political agendas, affect the minds of new generations. Predominantly, in countries that are multicultural and relationships extremely delicate (such as the countries in the Caucasus region), it is important for the education systems to promote inclusion and multi-culturalism, be conscious of the role that education and educators can play in either promoting peace and stability or divisions and war. The research intends to offer a broader perspective on the role of peace education, and aims to examine whether education systems are contributing to promoting the culture of peace and the culture of tolerance in post-conflict, multi-ethnic, multi- religious, and multi-cultural environments.
Conflict transformation, Education, Peace education