Peace education aims to develop competences that contribute to creating a culture of peace. An important prerequisite in that regard is that the participants are conscious of their understanding of peace; That they have a reference framework consisting of background knowledge, narratives and assumptions linked to the continuum of war and peace.
Such understandings will change over time, as well as for other factors such as geographic origin and exposure to various information and sources. Peace education in Europe is largely premised on the Second World War (WW2) and a human rights focus as reference frameworks. How can we then conduct peace education when the target group does not relate closely enough to this reference framework?
Observations made during peace education programmes with young people indicate that there is a need for more variety in the reference frameworks around which we construct peace education. These observations form the backbone of inquiry for this project. Key questions that inform the further thinking of the project include: Which reference frameworks are used in part of the world in which WW2 was not very pervasive? What kinds of reference frameworks is necessary for non-formal peace education to function, and how can these be contextualised?
For a baseline and a comparison, the project will look into a European context, and an East African context. The rationale for this is to be able to compare how two different reference frameworks are constructed, and how they influence the practice.
Two training courses of peace education, designed through non-formal educational learning methods will be examined through action research. The participants will be youth workers, educators, trainers, or others who will in turn train others – a training of trainers-format. The action part aims to stimulate the participants’ consciousness of the topic, as well as challenge their established practice of design and implementation of peace education.
This project aims to improve our understanding of how to construct and conduct peace education by focusing on ways of contextualising it. Peace education is about developing competences that facilitate peace. This implies that one’s understanding of peace is essential. This understanding varies across temporal and geographic range. Targeting young people in Europe, practical peace education has evolved with reference to WW2 and the Holocaust. This has been, and is still effective.
However, this reference framework is being challenged by time. As WW2 gets more distant, it becomes less resounding for young people, whereas a range of contemporary situations of tension, conflict and war contribute more readily to their conception and understanding of the value of peace.
By looking at current practices of non-formal peace education both in Europe, with its dominant WW2 reference framework, and in East Africa – in which WW2 was not pervasive – the project aims to understand how other reference frameworks can be structured and used to facilitate competence development in young people that contribute to peace.
The project will be looking into the primary research question: What kind of reference frameworks are required for non-formal peace education to function, and how can these be contextualised?
To answer the question, the project will analyse research frameworks of peace education, why they may be different for different contexts, and why it even matters to contextualise such frameworks.
Peace education is an action-based field, which this project is taking to heart. Two separate training courses of peace educators will be analysed through an action research-based approach. This approach, which is a combined approach of research and taking action, will make the gap between research and concrete improvement of peace education practice for the public entity narrower, and thereby contribute very directly both towards the organisation's research- and education strategy.