Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan
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Foreign-backed funding for education does not always stabilize a country and enhance its statebuilding efforts. Dana Burde shows how aid to education in Afghanistan bolstered conflict both deliberately in the 1980s through violence-infused, anti-Soviet curricula and inadvertently in the 2000s through misguided stabilization programs. She also reveals how dominant humanitarian models that determine what counts as appropriate aid have limited attention and resources toward education, in some cases fueling programs that undermine their goals.
For education to promote peace in Afghanistan, Burde argues we must expand equal access to quality community-based education and support programs that increase girls' and boys' attendance at school. Referring to a recent U.S. effort that has produced strong results in these areas, Burde commends the program's efficient administration and good quality, and its neutral curriculum, which can reduce conflict and build peace in lasting ways. Drawing on up-to-date research on humanitarian education work amid conflict zones around the world and incorporating insights gleaned from extensive fieldwork in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Burde recalculates and improves a popular formula for peace.
education in countries aﬀected by conﬂ ict and crises. In doing so, they distinguished education in emergencies from education for development in order to incorporate education into traditional humanitarian assistance (Burde 2005). Education in emergencies refers to a set of program interventions that are supported by international, bilateral, and multinational organizations worldwide to help children living in disaster- and conﬂict-aﬀected countries gain access to education. They comprise a
and human resources. The “Party oﬃce” screened MoE employees to ensure that they maintained suﬃcient loyalty to the Communist Party. Second, the structure of the state education system—village schools, primary schools, secondary schools, and lycées—was changed to reﬂect the Soviet system. Finally, the Soviets revised the Afghan school curriculum to nearly match that used in the Soviet Union, with the exception of religious studies. They preserved one hour per week for theology in grades 1–4, and
ethnonational identity, which is, in part, why Pakistan chose to back them. With Pakistani support, by 1996 the Taliban had gained control of most of the country, except for the city of Mazar-i-Sharif and Badakhshan Province in the northeast (Rashid 2001). A common misunderstanding of the Afghan civil war pits the religious, fundamentalist Taliban against the open-minded, secular-leaning Northern Alliance, led by Ahmad Shah Massoud. In fact, nationalist and royalist parties had been
of instability.” After working with community members to identify root causes, practitioners plan activities to address exclusively the issues that have been identiﬁed as drivers of instability (pers. interview February 15, 2013). USAID (2011b:12) guidelines recommend identifying activities that will: (1) increase support for the national government, (2) “decrease support 105 Edu c at io n f o r St ab ilit y for Anti-Government Elements,” and (3) “increase institutional and societal capacity
were under the age of 18 (UNICEF 2010). 10. Some say this ﬁgure is too optimistic and the real ﬁgure is lower (pers. interview March 3, 2013). 179 No t e s t o 5 . Edu c at io n f o r the Wor ld 11. Although many scholars, practitioners, and policymakers take for granted the structure and organization of mass education found in most countries today, the fact that many mass-education systems evolved simultaneously and in ways that are remarkably similar has been the subject of much scholarly