GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Education as a Priority for Security
Paper Proposal Text :
Armed conflict has a profound impact on children and young people. They are too often victims of the conflict and are used by groups as fighters, human shields and deliberately targeted. While images of the suffering of children or pictures of child soldiers will command condemnation and outrage, the actual needs of children and young people are too often forgotten about both during the conflict and in the post-conflict rebuilding process. There will be relief operations to provide food and health care to the victims of conflict, but a key part of the lived experiences of children, education, is overlooked.

Across the world almost 40 million children are out of school due to armed conflicts. Overtime living in a conflict zone becomes a normal lived experience for a child and the inspirations for a positive future that an education may have fostered becomes eroded and destroyed. The expectations and even incentives for the child becoming highly limited as violence and hatred become the normal experience. This cannot be a marginal concern for any security agenda as children will grow up to become the next leaders and actors in society with the views and experiences of violence and hatred likely to continue. During conflict the emphasis is, of course, on the military action needed, but the experiences of recent conflicts, show the need for development reconstruction to be a priority alongside the military operations. This will include the rebuilding or maintenance of critical infrastructure for the benefit of society. As children cannot be participants in a conflict, despite the continued practice, it is necessary to ensure that their day to day lives are supported through educational activities that support their development.

In the post-conflict period, support for education becomes an even greater priority. Education influences and constructs a child’s life and ideas. Education not only works to foster individual development it also can be used to encourage and inspire community principles and humanitarian values. Through education, children develop knowledge and experiences of concepts such as justice and respect for others. Education can have a positive impact on young people in supporting their psychosocial well-being, discouraging them from participating in criminal actions and can prevent their recruitment into groups whose aim is to continue the conflict. Ensuring all children have access to education can enhance stability and create a sustainable, peaceful future. Therefore, education should be recognised and realized as a priority in the post-conflict agenda and not a marginal concern.

Post-conflict development is undoubtedly a complex process with a wide range of competing concerns. However, we need to see education as one of the high level concerns for the purposes of ensuring long term security. For the states of the GCC education is recognised as a fundamental feature of successful state building. This domestic ethos of the GCC needs to become an integral part of the security framework for the region, military measures alone will not bring security. The multiple conflicts surrounding the GCC will, hopefully, be drawing to an end, but the only way for ensuring long-term security for the region is ensuring the populations impacted by the conflicts receive the benefits of education showing that violence and hatred does not bring about either individual or collective development.

This paper will set out a security agenda that takes education as a leading priority. It will establish the value of education in fostering humane and secure societies where violence is rejected. The paper will further elaborate on the complexities in supporting education in post-conflict situations so that the fear and hatred which caused the conflict does not become a normal part of the lived experiences of children. It will conclude with establishing a post-conflict development framework, applicable to the GCC region, where education is defined as a security priority and its relation to other development concerns. Given the high proportion of children and young people in the region, the conflicts are having a disproportionately negative impact on these societies and this does not bode well for long-term security. When education is understood as a security issue and priority, we can work to develop more peaceful and stable societies.