New states challenged: education, peacebuilding and statebuilding in post-conflict Kosovo and East Timor

Selenica, Ervjola (2016) New states challenged: education, peacebuilding and statebuilding in post-conflict Kosovo and East Timor. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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The provision of education has been a core function legitimizing the modern nation-state. Behind education one finds the building of citizenship, between demands for social cohesion and national identification, as well as the preparation of the labour force for the national economy. The moulding of a working education system remains a key challenge for new states and states emerging from armed conflict. Qualitative and quantitative scholarly literature exploring the causal relationship between education and civil war leaves no doubt about the salience of education systems in conflict-affected states. While a vast body of studies exists on education and violent conflict, less attention has been devoted to the role of education in peacebuilding and statebuilding. Above all, little research has been conducted into how externally promoted efforts at rebuilding education systems may affect (or fail to affect) the consolidation of peace. This study focuses on the ways in which a variety of international actors shape national education systems in states that have emerged out of armed conflict, and how these systems reflect and affect peacebuilding and statebuilding. From these premises, I have conducted fieldwork in Kosovo and East Timor, two recent cases where major statebuilding and peacebuilding interventions have been launched. The research first has mapped education programming and reform by identifying the main actors that have been part of the process. Second, I have conceptualized the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of these reforms by analysing primary source documents and interviewing key local and international stakeholders. Finally, after identifying the emerging forms of education systems, I have critically analysed the ways in which externally assisted education have reflected and affected processes of building the state and consolidating peace. The research has found that post-war reconstruction in both cases has led to the emergence of externally-driven and hybrid education systems whereby priorities are set in the intersection between local and international actors, often lacking coordination. Presenting features of extra-territoriality and denationalization, such education systems are a combination of global education policies and contextual local agendas. Rather than bringing the education system out of fragility, international interventions have determined and perpetuated a condition of dependency on international assistance. Humanitarian and stability imperatives have determined educational choices and priorities and education has neither addressed nor transformed root causes of the conflicts, missing the opportunity to contribute to social cohesion, change and justice. Overall, education has been a marginal sector within the broader political economy of peacebuilding and statebuilding, and a mere reflection of the principles and practices that underpin them. Rather than impacting on such processes, interventions in education in Kosovo and East Timor have reflected, legitimised and enhanced the prevailing models of peacebuilding and statebuilding, and in doing so, have incorporated their dilemmas, pitfalls and shortcomings.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:27
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali
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