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Security Ico
Education and

Security and Peacebuilding

Key message

Education underpins peacebuilding and security efforts.


Education promotes the mutual respect, tolerance, and critical thinking needed for reconciliation. Countries with higher levels of education are less likely to engage in war and conflict. Where there is equal access to education, a culture of safe schools, and linkages to employment opportunities, higher education levels are associated with positive engagement in society and less vulnerability to extremism. Education increases the chances that peacebuilding efforts will be lasting. Conflict-sensitive instruction and materials can help to reduce discrimination and foster a sense of forgiveness, laying a foundation for healing and social cohesion.
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Key challenges
  • When peacebuilding efforts fail, the costs to countries due to lost education and human capital are high Over a three-year period, conflict cost nearly US$470 million (1.7% of GDP) in the DRC and US$2.9 billion (1.3% of GDP) in Pakistan.
    (Jones & Naylor, 2014)
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  • Education builds sustainable and lasting peace. Over the long-term, education can help to redistribute resources and opportunity more equitably, bring recognition and respect to diverse groups and identities, ensure representation through civic participation, and encourage reconciliation.
    (Novelli et al., 2015)
  • Equitable education makes us safer. Reducing the level of educational inequality by half can lessen the probability of conflict by nearly 10%.
    (UNICEF, 2015)
  • Education can channel tensions into peaceful actions. Individuals and communities with higher levels of education are more likely to channel their concerns through nonviolent civil movements, like protests, rallies, and boycotts.
    Wang et al., 2015  Shaykhutdinov, 2011
  • Higher levels of education are historically associated with a lower likelihood of violent conflict. Analysis of 120 countries over 30 years found that countries were less likely to experience violent conflict if their populations had higher levels of education.
    (GEM, 2016)
  • Education can reduce vulnerability to extremism and radicalisation when it is part of a broader socio-economic strategy. When there is equal access to education, schools invest in the creation of safe spaces for their students at all levels, and the job market is adjusted to the educational level of graduating students, there is a reduced likelihood of vulnerability to violent extremism.
    (Sas et al, 2020)
  • Schools can play important roles in reconciliation and rebuilding in post-conflict communities. Integrated schools positively influence minority group identity and a sense of forgiveness, lessening discriminatory attitudes and creating an environment ripe for healing
    Alexander & Christia, 2011  Hansson et al., 2013
  • Instruction and curricula can positively influence post-conflict inter-group relations. Conflict-sensitive teaching can promote inclusion and eliminate harmful stereotypes, creating a pathway to social reconstruction, transitional justice and lasting peace.
    Freedman et al., 2008  Cole & Barsalou, 2006
  • Peace education — including human rights, civics, and multicultural education — can help to prevent future violence. Peace education interventions can lessen youth aggression, bullying and support of violence, and improve the probability that students will try to prevent conflict
    (Barakat et al., 2013)
  • Education underpins the investments made in traditional security and peacebuilding efforts. Education builds capacity and supports the development of social cohesion, reintegration, and economic growth for all, which are integral to the success of broader peacebuilding interventions.
    (Novelli, 2015)
  • Education in the early years contributes to peacebuilding in the later years. Early childhood education has been shown to reduce violent behaviour in later life. In Lebanon, early childhood interventions for Palestinian refugees has resulted in greater harmony and reduced conflict.
    Walker et al., 2011  Leckman, et al, 2014
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Key opinion
Alice Albright
Alice Albright
CEO of Global Partnerships for Education
“Education is the single best investment a country can make to raise to the most pressing challenges of our time. In an interconnected world, an educated population – especially girls – is an insurance policy for every aspect of a country’s future development, with wide-ranging benefits extending to health, economic growth, peace and stability.
However, economic pressures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic are squeezing education budgets around the world, just as investments are needed more than ever before. Sustaining domestic and global education budgets around the world is the key to a shared future fit for our children.”
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Key talking points
  • Quality and inclusive education is the foundation for peaceful societies.
  • When education is equally accessible, safe spaces are provided from primary through to higher education, and there are strong links to opportunities in the labour market, the risks of radicalisation and vulnerability to extremism are lower.
  • Historically, countries with higher levels of education have been less likely to engage in violent conflict.
  • Education plays a fundamental role in sustaining peace and reconciliation following conflict.
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