Education has been known to be a valuable tool in conflict resolution and community building. It has the potential to create opportunities, through curriculum and group spaces, to conduct open dialogues surrounding conflict. Students, parents, teachers and community members can gather in educational settings to discuss transitional issues, personal and cultural experiences, and learn constructive ways of handling conflict. Educational settings can also offer opportunities for families to integrate into a healing process regarding culture and history. A family may have one idea on history that could potentially encourage intolerance or ongoing victimization; a school and educational tools, however, can help provide a full scope of information surrounding the conflict and other people’s/group’s experiences. On the other hand, the school may be embedded into a system that creates more conflict and problems.
Author Pam Christie gives us insights into South Africa and how racial inequality within the education system was inherited by the new government: "The apartheid education system was premised on racial differentiation and, consequently upon that, racially fragmented education systems that were separately administered and unequally funded" (Christie, 2009). Although new efforts were made by the incoming government to reconstruct social norms, it was often difficult for policy to reach the ground. Schools had been receiving unequal funding due to segregation issues, and "per capita funding for white children was twelve times that of African children, with those classified Indian and Coloured receiving respectively less and less than whites" (Christie, 2009).
These inequities can take a tremendous toll on a community and hurt the rebuilding process. "Schools reproduce the skills, values, attitudes and social relationships of dominant groups in society, accordingly, they are usually a contributory in conflict" (Buckland, 2004). Due to this concept, it is integral that schools and education systems are able to curate criteria and social norms that reflect peace, tolerance, and co-existence.
Christie, Pam. 2009. Peace, Reconciliation and Justice: Delivering the Miracle in Post-apartheid Education in Peace education in Conflict and Postconflict societies: A Comparative Perspective.
Zvi Bekerman and Michalinos Zembylas. 2012. Teaching Contested Narratives: Identity, Memory and Reconciliation in Peace Education and Beyond. New York: Cambridge University Press, p 58.