Speaker: Dr Giuditta Fontana, Leverhulme Fellow & Birmingham Fellow, University of Birmingham.
About Dr Giuditta Fontana: Dr Fontana is a Leverhulme Fellow and Birmingham Fellow. Her current project focuses on the interface between peace processes and reforms of cultural institutions (such as schools, the media and museums) in divided societies (such as Northern Ireland, Lebanon and the FYR of Macedonia).
Her research interests include post-conflict institution-building, power-sharing, education policy in divided societies, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern history and politics.
Giuditta is a United World College alumna and holds a BSc International Relations and History from the London School of Economics (2007) and an MA Mediterranean Studies from King’s College London (2008). Her PhD (awarded in October 2014 by King’s College London) focused on the political function of formal education in deeply divided societies and compared the experiences of Lebanon, Northern Ireland and the FYR of Macedonia.
Prior to her doctorate, Giuditta worked in a number of non-governmental and international organisations in Europe and the Middle East, including the European Commission and Minority Rights Group International.
Speaker: Martin Plaut (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)
About Martin Plaut:
Martin Plaut is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and author of “Understanding Eritrea” published by Hurst October 2016. The book explains how the country operates and why President Isaias Afwerki has retained in power. His main research interests and publication include Civil Rights, Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, International Relations, Modern History, Political Institutions, Socialism, Communism, and Anarchism. Mr. Plaut research focus is Africa in general, South Africa and Horn of Africa in Particular.
The main theme of the conference is Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes
This 2 day interdisciplinary conference aims to create an inclusive and supportive space for post-graduate scholars, academics and community members to come together in a supportive environment, to provide a platform of critical thinking, exchange of ideas and to promote inter-relationships between academics, researchers, the community and non-academics. .
The conference provides an opportunity for academics and professionals from various fields to share their theoretical knowledge, research findings and practices with colleagues, participants and community members in a relaxed and stimulating atmosphere. Participants’ input will be encouraged in order to add value and interaction, promote networking and foster partnerships throughout the duration of the conference. The conference will be interactive, providing an excellent opportunity for networking.
The main theme of the conference is Migration and Transition – Roots and Routes
There are four strands and poster presentations
The socio-economic and demographic determinants of migration.
Cultural practices, health and life transitions in refugee camps
Sex slave trafficking/ sex workers
Social media, political activism and restorative justice
The socio-economic and demographic determinants of migration: Socio-political, economic, ecological and violence are factors driving migration. Rising violence as a result of ethnic or religious intolerance has led to increased levels of migration. Migration can be humanitarian and/or economic.
Health and life transitions in refugee camps: Forced immigration is a challenge and the traumatic events may have an impact on the individual’s sense of self, identity, health and well-being.
Sex slave trafficking/ sex workers: The sex trade exploitation affects people from all walks of life; asylum seekers, migrant workers and sex workers.
Social media and political, cultural and religious activism: Media activism utilises social media and communication technologies for social, political, cultural and religious movements and activism. Users are able to create and share content for political, cultural and religious change.
Poster presentations: Poster presentations may be on any research topic related to Africa. All ideas will be considered.
Paper presentations will be 15 minutes. Poster presentations will be 15 minutes.
Abstracts of 250 wordsand poster presentations to be sent to: email@example.com by the 30th March 2017
Foe more Information see: http://lucas.leeds.ac.uk/2017/02/23/yasn-conference-migration-and-transition-roots-and-routes/
University of Bristol: Beyond Radicalisation: Gendered Assemblages and Migrations of Violence.
About Dr Paul Higate: Dr Higate is a reader in Gender and Security School for Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol. His research focuses on the gendered culture of the military and militarised masculinities in the substantive contexts of: the transition of military personnel to civilian life, United Nations peacekeeping and most recently private security contractors. Dr Higate has an interest in developing innovative and inter-disciplinary informed ways in which to theorise security, drawing on human geography, critical geopolitics, sociology and cultural studies.
Professor Charles Abiodun Alao, King’s College London: Radicalisation and Violence in Africa.
About Professor Abiodun Alao: Abiodun Alao is Professor of African Studies at King’s College London. His areas of Research interests include: Emerging Powers and Global Leadership; the Politics of Natural Resources Management; Religious Radicalisation and Political Violence; Politics, Security and International Relations in Africa.
His authored books include Mugabe and the Politics of Security in Zimbabwe, (McGill-Queens University Press, 2012); Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa: The Tragedy of Endowment, (Rochester University Press, 2007); The Burden of Collective Goodwill: The International Involvement in the Liberian Civil War, (Ashgate Publishers, 1996); and Brothers at War: Dissidence and Rebellion in Southern Africa, (British Academic Press, 1994). He Co-authored Peacekeepers, Politicians and Warlords: The Liberian Peace Process, (United Nations University Press, 1999); and Co-editor of Africa after the Cold War: The Changing Perspective on Security, (African World Press, 1998); Nigeria and the United States: Twists and Turns over 50 Years, (African Peace Support Publishers, 2011); and China and Africa – Building Peace and Security Cooperation (Forthcoming Palgrave – Macmillan, 2016).
Apart from extensive publications on African security issues, Prof Alao has undertaken numerous assignments for international organisations, including the United Nations, African Union, European Union, World Bank, ECOWAS and for individual countries.
The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.
The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.
Conference cluster themes include:
1) Natural Resources and Conflict
2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding
3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development
4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus
5) Regional Integration, Security and Development
6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to: firstname.lastname@example.org
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.
Christine Mutisya is a project coordinator for the Una Hakika project. She has an MSc in development and project planning from Bradford University. She is engaged in managing misinformation for the Sentinel Project, involving herself in peacebuilding activities and project management.
Adrian Gregorich is the community manager at the Sentinel Project. His academic background is in human rights, holding an MSc in human rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an honours BA in political science and human rights from Carleton University in Ottawa. Adrian has worked with a number of NGOs around Africa as well as in Canada. His research and campaigning interests lie in mine action, violence prevention, poverty reduction, and global primary health care. He works as a freelance writer and resides in Ottawa, Canada. He can be reached via Twitter: @AdGregorich
Misinformation is a major problem in societies around the world, especially now that the rise of social media enables the spreading of rumours to happen much faster than was possible in the pre-digital era. Kenya’s Tana Delta region provides a good example not only of how misinformation can spread, but also how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to monitor and contain its harmful effects.
Misinformation was one of the factors that led to violence in the Tana Delta during 2012 and 2013, a time when Kenya was warming up to the general election scheduled for March 2013. At such times, politics and land injustices become especially salient and these also factored into the clashes which killed nearly 170 people while displacing tens of thousands. The aftermath included increased hatred and mistrust between the two most affected ethnic communities, the Orma and the Pokomo. Even after the election period ended, misinformation still spread throughout the Tana Delta, thus continuing tensions in the region.
A Sentinel Project team visited the Tana Delta in early 2013 and recognized this problem of rumours, which led to the creation of Una Hakika (Swahili for “Are you sure?”), a mobile phone-based information system used to map and counter misinformation in the Tana Delta. One of Una Hakika’s long-term goals is to enable people to ask themselves are you sure before taking action on any information. Rapid action on false rumours before verification led to some of the violence in 2012-2013.
Before setting up the system, the Una Hakika team conducted a baseline survey throughout the Tana Delta during January-February 2014 in order to understand the spread of information in the region, what technologies people use to share that information, and to generally understand the potential users of Una Hakika in order to better design the system. One key finding from the survey was that 87.3% of the 249 respondents believed rumours contributed to violence in the region, while 61.1% of respondents had heard information they believed to be untrue within the previous 12 months. Out of those 61.1% only 50.6% took further action to verify if the information was true.
Una Hakika works as a free mobile phone-based reporting system with a short code through which individual citizens report incidents or potential misinformation, after which they receive verification of its accuracy. This works via a three-stage process. In the first stage, users send information to the system, through SMS, phone calls, the Una Hakika website, or by speaking to a trained community ambassador. who serve as a bridge between people and technology.
The second stage of the process prioritizes and verifies received messages by drawing upon a variety of information sources which may be able to provide the facts of the situation relating to a given rumour. These sources include the community ambassadors, local authorities (police and administration), other NGOs operating in the area, and the media (social media and mainstream media).
Third, once the Una Hakika team has verified reports of a rumour they are then able to provide feedback to the community about the authenticity of the information. This response is targeted to ensure that the rumour management process does not inadvertently spread rumours. Rumour verifications are still only sent to subscribers in the villages from which those rumours were reported, since there is a risk of people who have not heard a given rumour focusing on the wrong parts of a counter message and disregarding the statement that the rumour is false.
Two years down the line, Una Hakika has seen tremendous results. People’s mindsets have changed in the sense that now when a resident in the Tana Delta hears a rumour their first reactions is increasingly likely to verify its validity before passing it on or taking any action. The number of survey respondents who would look into the accuracy of information the were not convinced was true has risen from from 50.6% to 57.4%. Previously, information tended to be taken at face value, and some people would take drastic action upon hearing threatening rumours.
Government officials also see the importance of Una Hakika as they are now able to synchronize efforts with the system, thus ensuring that they do not waste time or resources reacting to false information. Another advantage of the Una Hakika model is that residents who fear being interrogated by police can report to the Una Hakika team, which will then turn it over to the authorities. This increased level of trust has resulted in some instances when the Una Hakika team received information about serious incidents (including massacres) even before the police did.
Trust is difficult to build, but this process has been a major factor in the success of Una Hakika’s community engagement. At the beginning of the project the community was wary of their aim, which is understandable due to the violence they had experienced. In order to gain trust the Una Hakika staff had to rely on existing trusted networks such as the local administration, religious leaders, and community elders.
Community engagement goes hand-in-hand with trust. While Una Hakika uses technology to fight misinformation, the human element cannot be ignored. The cultures of the Tana Delta value face-to-face meetings, and the priority given to conduct such meetings has played an integral role in Una Hakika’s success. However, this is not easy since one must ensure impartiality and inclusivity when dealing with an ethnically diverse community such as those in the Tana Delta.
Despite many challenges, the Una Hakika project has made a substantial contribution to the peacebuilding process in the Tana Delta through the development, testing, and refinement of tools and techniques for countering misinformation that has the potential to lead to violence. The Una Hakika model also demonstrates great potential for being applied in other regions of Kenya, as well as other violence-prone areas around the world.
[Image credit: author's photo; beneficiaries of the fund that were victims of irregularities. The mill was broken at the time and they could not afford repairs.]
Roberta Holanda Maschietto has a PhD in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra. Her research interests include the concept of empowerment and its operationalisation, in particular in peacebuilding contexts, as well as local subjectivities of peace and power.
In 2006 the government of Mozambique introduced for the first time a budget to be allocated to each one of the 128 districts in the country. At the time, the budget had a fixed value of seven million meticais (circa USD300,000), and was called the Local Initiative Investment Budget (Orçamento de Investimento de Iniciativa Local, OIIL), being popularised as the ‘7 Million’. In 2009, the budget was transformed into a fund, the District Development Fund, retaining nevertheless its popular name and core functions.
In a nutshell, the ‘7 Million’ resembles a micro-credit scheme. The fund that enters the district is supposed to be used in the form of credit concession to the poor strata of those economically. Its central objectives are job creation and food production in the districts. The ‘7 Million’ has furthermore a strong empowering appeal: not only does it aim to promote empowerment by investing in local producers who would otherwise not have access to credit, but it also works in connection with the local councils, who have an active role in deciding who will obtain the funding taking into consideration the local needs.
The local councils were formalised in 2005 and defined as ‘an organ of consultancy of the local administration authorities’. They should be constituted by prominent people in the communities, such as ‘community authorities, representatives of interests groups of economic, social and cultural nature’ in each territorial rank of the district (1). Whilst having a consultative status, when it comes to the ‘7 Million’ they are the ones entitled to select the projects that will obtain the credit, as they are deemed to know better the needs of the community. Therefore, their inclusion in the process is what guarantees that the process is ‘bottom-up’ and representative of local interests.
In practice, the ‘7 million’ became one of the main political banners of President Guebuza, who referred to it as the ‘Mozambican economic paradigm’ (2). In his speeches, he portrayed the ‘7 million’ as nearly a panacea thanks to which local development has taken place, food production has increased, local communities have been integrated with the national market, jobs have been created, and poverty has been reduced (3). The initiative has even been praised by the African Peer Review Mechanism and portrayed as an example to be followed by other African countries (4). An in depth analysis of the district of Angoche, located in the northern province of Nampula, however, casts doubts about such a successful propaganda.
First, the understanding that the local councils are ‘representative of the local communities’ is very problematic. In 2011 there was a big process of reconstitution of the local councils. In Angoche, the process was followed by the district’s technical commission, who was in charge of guaranteeing its transparency and inclusiveness. In practice, many people in the communities admitted not taking part of the selection process — some did not even know about it. Many who did take part, including chosen members of the councils further referred to a ‘pre-selection’ phase where the ‘eligible people’ to the councils — to be voted by the people — were previously selected by a local traditional authority (usually the régulo), contrary to what should have taken place. Furthermore, in some cases, there were reports that members of the opposition ‘refused to take part’ of the selection process. In one case, a member of the technical team admitted they had to re-schedule a new selection process in one of the localities precisely because of the issue of inclusiveness. However, in other cases where reports of bias were reported, nothing was done to correct the process or verify it further.
Besides the problems related to the selection process, many participants in the communities observed that their interaction with the members of the local councils was very weak, or simply did not take place. This was particularly so in the case of women. Some individuals also manifested a feeling of ‘separateness’, as the local councils were portrayed as linked ‘with the structure’, instead of a body that represents the community.
When the ‘7 Million’ was considered, these critical perceptions were often magnified, as many beneficiaries — and people who had attempted unsuccessfully to obtain the fund — reported acts of bribery involving members of the local councils, as well as local authorities. There were also reports of political discrimination, exchange of values and projects inside the council, and, before 2009 — when the fund was disbursed in goods — overpriced products.
Contrary to the positive numbers available in the administration, many of the projects funded by the ‘7 Million’ were found to be ineffective, incomplete, sometimes completely different from the original, and at times also failed. One of the reasons for this was the fact that more often than not beneficiaries obtained a much smaller loan than the one requested. According to members of the local councils, this happened because the fund available is not that big once it is split across the district’s sub-units, and they feel that it is preferable to chose more projects with a small amount (be inclusive) than select few projects with a big amount — even though the latter would be the only way for a project to generate jobs.
Ultimately, the limited success of the ‘7 Million’ is reflected in the very low return rate, which in Angoche, between 2007-2013, stayed at only 4.5%. Yet, the official discourse tends to minimise this issue, noticing that many projects take time (2-3 years) to generate profit. At the same time, the problematic estimates of jobs created are widely publicised, even when there is not long-term and continuous checking if those jobs planned in the project still exist.
It could be argued that Angoche is a very specific case where things did not go so well. Yet, data obtained from the districts of Mogovolas and Moma showed similar problems. Monitoring reports from Center of Democracy and Development Studies (CEDE) regarding other districts also noted the problem of the projects’ sustainability. Finally, one of the rare in depth studies on the matter in the districts of Gorongosa, Monapo and Zavala also cast away any reason for optimism regarding the results of the ‘7 Million’ (5).
The fact that these problems are minimised in the discourse is nothing out of ordinary, as much as politics is concerned. What is worrying is the fact that very little has been done to address these problems. One of the major constraints, in this regard, is the lack of resources to invest in regular monitoring visits and capacity building of all actors engaged in the implementation of the ‘7 Million’. Also, so far there is no proper mechanism for complaint, redress and accountability, which indirectly stimulates the situation to continue as it is. Ultimately, part of the propaganda of the ‘7 Million’ is related to the agenda of decentralisation in Mozambique — giving power to the districts and empowering the local councils. Yet, if these problems are not addressed, they may simply contribute to enhance and further legitimate centralising tendencies at the local level, while disguising them as part of the decentralisation process.
1. Republic of Mozambique. Council of Ministers (2005) Decree No. 11/2005, Regulação da Lei dos Órgãos Locais de Estado (RELOLE). Boletim da República, I Série, No. 23, 2nd Supplemento. Maputo, 10 June.
5. Orre, A. & Forquilha, S.C. 2012. ‘Uma iniciativa condenada ao fracasso. o fundo distrital dos 7 milhões e suas consequências para a governação em Moçambique’, in B. Weimer, org. Moçambique: descentralizar o centralismo. economia política, recursos e resultados. Maputo: IESE, 168-196.
[Image: Professor David Francis delivering a keynote address, Zimbabwe]
On 2-3 July 2015 representatives from JEFCAS participated at a University of Bradford facilitated Curriculum Development and Staff Training on Peace & Security Education in Zimbabwe.
Since its inception in 2004, peace education in Zimbabwe still has its fair share of multidimensional and multi-layered challenges to address in the conflict-prone context. The myriad challenges range from: strange bedfellows of politicians and peace academics – though they are expected to be mutually reinforcing and interlacing; the backwater communal narrative of marginalization and attendant challenges of rising poverty, hunger, dysfunctional hospitals and schools, increasingly polarized ethnic groups; a monumental economic comatose characterized by heightened company closures and job loses; both investor and capital flight further compounded by lack of balance of payment support from bilateral and multilateral financial institutions and a frosty relationship with a Commonwealth family to bloodletting factional politics – characterized by purging and decapitation of dissenting voices.
It is in light of these challenges that peace education was introduced as antidote, premised on two assumptions. First, that peace is the purveyor of security and development in a conflict-prone, stressed, fragile, failed state, and second, that a robust peace education curriculum can be instrumental in stopping hostilities that normally undermine the productive use of resources in Zimbabwe. Despite such projections, peace education has suffered conceptual and operations deficiencies. Operational deficits include institutional, structural and ideological. Institutionally, there is dearth of qualified lecturers, possibly the reason why peace education is undervalued in Zimbabwe. Relatedly, because of lack of proper qualifications, peace academics don’t have a voice. As such, offering a robust curriculum in a conflict-prone environment is viable if the peace educators have a significant voice. The 2-3 July 2015 Curriculum Development and Staff Training on Peace & Security Education in Zimbabwe was mooted, among other objectives, to design a tapestry of curricula that address the complex conflicts and build pedagogic capacities of peace educators from fourteen universities. The workshop ran under the theme “Mapping an Agenda for Peace and Security Education for Sustainable Development”. Lead facilitators included: Professor David. J. Francis (Head of Peace Studies, JEFCAS Director, Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner at the University of Bradford), Professor Pamela Machakanja (Director of the Institute for Peace, Leadership and Governance, Africa University) and Dr. Author Bainomugisha (Executive Director of ACODE and Lecturer of Peace and Conflict Studies, Makerere University).
The training was part of the second phase of a collaborative project on curriculum development between peace academics in Zimbabwe and University of Bradford. While the first phase primarily focused on producing peace education guide, ways of mainstreaming peace in the existing curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, the sequential second workshop (carried after 10 years) focused on explicit processes of designing curriculum. Most significantly, the workshop sought to re-conceptualize the peace curriculum by involving wider community members, inclusive of the security sector actors (army and police), line ministry (Ministry of Education Sport and Culture), NGOs and students. Each university represented was given an opportunity to share curriculum experiences, milestones and militating factors. What emerged was a crying chorus demanding a totally new peace approach commensurate with increasingly dynamic internal conflicts. In his key note address, running under the title: Education for Peace Education in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities, and as a lead facilitator, David Francis identified militating factors confronting the viability of education for peace in the 21st century Africa. Among others, the most prominent being:
Imposition of a liberal peacebuilding agenda in Africa
Failure to indigenize peacebuilding in Africa
Disjoint between education for peace interventions and the ‘Peace Writ Large’ framework in transition societies
Failure of discipline of peace education / peace and conflict research to re-invent itself
‘Militarization’ of peace education curriculum and opposition from higher education because of entrenched interests
Despite this ugly picture, Francis also opined that there are some notable prospects that may increase the visibility of peace education in Africa, among being:
The revival of international interest in African universities after decades of neglect
Positive trend and context of reform at Africa universities which is now characterized by: ‘privatization’ of public universities, proliferation of private universities, decrease in wars and armed conflicts, increase in political governance, prospects for economic growth and development and demands for new course provisions
Demand for peace in transition societies in Africa which has culminated in opportunity to mainstream and institutionalize education for peace, peace and conflict research curriculum to service the peace industry
He also emphasized that education is a catalytic force to a create culture of peace. As such he recommended that the transformative role of education requires different forms of education provision which include formal, informal, non-formal, multiple levels of education, universities/tertiary sector, school systems: primary and secondary, civil society, local community, household, and grassroots levels. He also called on all present to speak the language of peace in their own vernacular language not the colonial language. Francis ended on a high note when he called on the academics present to abort the colonial education curriculum that is often taken up in most African countries and look at new narratives to understand peace in the local context.
The second facilitator, Prof. Pamela Machakanja (Africa University), in her key note address running under the theme: Education for Peace Education in Zimbabwe: Challenges and Prospects, and weighed in on Francis’ thoughts reinforcing that:
There is need to move out of the minimalist approach to peace education by incorporating many actors – embracing government, the NGOs, local private sector as well as international actors. Inclusive approach would ensure a cross cutting peace education curriculum.
Peace education curriculum should address a myriad insecurities, inclusive of food, unemployment, vendor economy, climate change, diseases, natural resources, water, political, knowledge and technological insecurities.
She recommended the need to generate our own African knowledge system to peace education. The presenter further challenged the academics to desist from being just consumers of western oriented ideologies but rather they should also generate knowledge. She said there is great need to publish a lot and invent indigenous knowledge systems. She also recommended that there is need to develop our own publication citation which is African centered. The presenter also emphasized that the need to strengthen public policy agenda and develop policies that incorporate different policy communities such as the business, the private and the public sector. This collective interaction, she said, can sustain and promote peace education in Zimbabwe.
Dr Arthur Bainomugisha (ACODE and Makerere University- Uganda) in his key note speech: Introducing Peace and Conflict Studies in Higher Institutions of Learning: Uganda’s Experience, could not fall short of emphasizing on emerging issues raised by the first two key note speakers. He highlighted that the concept of conflict- is the intrinsic and inevitable aspect of social change. It is an expression of the heterogeneity of interests, values and beliefs that arise as new formations generated by social change come up against inherited constraints. The presenter also gave an overview of Uganda’s political history and conflicts. Arthur outlined typologies of major armed conflicts in Uganda which include Teso Rebellion (1986-91), LRA Rebellion 1986 to date, Cattle rustling in Karamoja sub-region, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebellion, West Nile Bank Front, National Rescue Front, Peoples Redemption Army (PRA) and new armed groups recently formed. He further mentioned how devastating these conflicts have been to the economic and social capital of Ugandans. Arthur highlighted that the introduction of Peace studies at Makerere University and indeed to some of the universities in Uganda in 2003 was a response to conflict prevention and peacebuilding demands. He pointed out that the idea of peace education was born in the Department of Religious Studies, Makerere University yet lacked pedagogic capacity to pursue this path.
In order to respond to the dearth of expertise, a collaborative partnership was entered into between University of Bradford, ACODE, Mbarara University of Science and Technology. This became to be known as MACOMBA Link Partnership. The peace education activities were being supported by DFID through British Council. MACOMBA Link was subsequently expanded to bring more universities on board which wanted to teach peace studies. These include: Gulu University; Nkozi Catholic University; Mbale Islamic University and Kampala University.
The presenter further outlined the challenges for teaching peace and conflicts in Institutions of Higher Learning in Uganda. As in the case of Zimbabwe, they include lack of subject experts to deliver quality education, lack of text books and other teaching materials, poor financing of institutions of higher learning by government, negative attitude towards peace studies by government, changing interests of donors, and peace project as a threat to the war economy agenda and competition among various faculties. The presentation also identified opportunities for teaching peace and conflicts in institutions of higher learning in Uganda. These include (among others) the:
International support for the infrastructure for peace in Africa – support from Bradford as a prime example.
Growing demand for peace education beyond university walls, to include private and security sector actors
The presenter concluded by saying peace education is the most important infrastructure for peace in Africa and time has come for the sons and daughters of Africa to stand up and change the ‘negative image of hopeless Africa to Africa is rising’ through peace education at all levels.
As a reflection on what has been shared by leading academics in peace education and the existential realities as they are obtaining in Africa in general, and Zimbabwe in particular, one cannot avoid to ask: How can peace education and those who champion it allay the conceptual and operational challenges and the negative perceptions simmering from authoritarian regimes? There are divergent views about peace education and its efficacious role in addressing threats that undermine security and development in conflict-prone countries from global South. Peace is utopian, some say. What and whose peace, others question! The Patriot Newspaper writes of peace education in universities: ‘we observed that our universities have been infiltrated by Western ‘soft power’ peddlers with neocolonial agenda to re-establish control over Africa’ rich natural resources through a new ad more sophisticated form of colonialism that seeks to promote white interests by controlling the mind-set of the African elite’ (Godobori 2015: 1) and the role of University of Bradford as ‘appears to be the premier British academic institution charged with the responsibility to transform African students into champions of self-hate and Afrophobia for the benefit of the whiteman’ (Godobori 2015).
Two conclusions can be drawn from the criticism above: one being that the philosophical underpinnings of peace is not clear to the generality of the population – therefore runs the risk of being misconstrued as a regime change agenda, and the other- though related to the first point, being of unclear ideological relationship between politicians, academia and economists, as peace education effervescently cuts across such everyday life domains in conflict settings. The intellectual nuances of peace education have not been made clear by pioneers of peace education. For instance, the early peace educator Betty Reardon (2000), defined peace education as ‘the transmission of knowledge about the requirements of, the obstacles to and possibilities for achieving and maintaining peace, training in skills for interpreting the knowledge, and the development of reflective and participatory capacities for applying the knowledge to overcoming problems and achieving possibilities’. Where is the confusion then? This author, and many that share her thinking, seem to downplay the tension that exist between peace education – which is content related, and education for peace – which is holistic in transforming individuals and societies as it focuses on processes and practices. This tension manifests in many of the peace education curricula in Zimbabwe that seem to lack coherence as evidenced by numerous courses with conflicting titles – conflict management, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, peace leadership and governance, non-violence and human rights education.
Possibly more conversations are needed on what peace entails, before it loses relevance in a changing context. Despite introducing universities wide peace education in Zimbabwe, and often supported by community outreach programmes, Zimbabwe is becoming less peaceful. However, a critical lesson learnt from the workshop was that threats, conceptual and operational challenges the local academics are still motivated to significantly contribute to the development of peace education in Zimbabwe.
Betty A. Reardon (2004) Peace Education: A Review and Projection, New York. Routledge
Godobori Godobori (2015) Africa University’s Peace and Governance Programme — is it innocent as it looks? The Patriot Newspaper, published July 9, 2015. Accessed 9 July 2015