Education policy development in post-conflict contexts and its effect on achieving sustainable peace: the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pašić, Maida (2020) Education policy development in post-conflict contexts and its effect on achieving sustainable peace: the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

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In 2016, a survey of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) found that only thirty per cent of them believed that education plays a positive role in creating inter-ethnic trust in the country, a sobering fact for those who fifteen years earlier embarked on the education system reform as part of the internationally-lead peacebuilding process. The results were of no surprise, however, to many observers who have warned that the fragmented, segregated, and politicised education system that emerged in the aftermath of the conflict would help deepen the cleavages between Bosnia’s ethnic groups and possibly reignite the conflict.

This thesis investigates the actions of International Organisations (IO) in BH’s first post-conflict education reform in the period from 2001 to 2006, the time when the international community spearheaded efforts to transform the weak and deeply divided education system into an engine of the country’s social and economic development. With the overall aim to gain insights into IO policymaking in post-conflict settings, the research is guided by a main question: what was the role of the international community, who managed the education reform process, in promoting reconciliation and sustainable peace through education?

Through critical reading of texts and the analysis of interviews with IO staff involved in the reform, the thesis examines the assumptions, values and ideologies that underpin IO policy choices; analyses their varied, mandate-driven approaches to the reform; considers their capacities; and explores tensions and contradictions that defined both their internal dynamics and their external relationships with national actors. In so doing, the thesis seeks to understand how IOs influenced and promoted the creation of the education system that would contribute to sustainable peace.

The research finds several problematic features of IO policymaking in BH. The delayed start of the education reform, framing of its outcomes in narrow economic terms, internal disagreements related to reform approaches and to engagement with national actors, all have diminished the potential of the IO-lead reform process to achieve peacebuilding outcomes. Nonetheless, IOs accomplished few legislative and policy successes that despite their slow uptake and implementation by national actors laid ground for better coordination and consolidation of the fragmented system.

The research resonates with several arguments from the literature concerning IO limited understanding of education’s role in post-conflict social transformation and their related tendencies to exclude education issues from peacebuilding or respond to them with a toolkit of generic, technical solutions. Notwithstanding the importance of national ownership, the research suggests that in some contexts the strong international leadership of policy development and implementation may prevent national political elites from undermining the reform process. The research also supports the claim that educational decentralisation in post-conflict settings may be problematic from the peacebuilding perspective, as it can facilitate segregation and reinforce ethnic divisions.

The research suggests that to enhance their practices IOs should frame post-conflict education reforms in terms of peacebuilding outcomes, strengthen their staff knowledge and capacity for conflict-sensitive policy and programming, and harmonize their interventions as a way to strengthen their impact on the overall peacebuilding goals.

The study proposes further research into the role of a broader group of national stakeholders in the post-conflict policymaking, including actors such as parents, teachers and principals in facilitating reconciliation and social cohesion in and through education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ5511.2 Promotion of peace. Peaceful change > JZ5514 Societies, associations, academies, institutes, etc., for peace promotion, research and education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC0065 Social aspects of education > LC0071 Education and the state > LC0088 By region or country > LC0093 Europe > LC0093.B6 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2020 11:18
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2020 11:18

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