Peace Education in Afghanistan: A Comparative Study of Conflict and Post-Conflict School Textbooks
Afghanistan has experienced numerous educational curricula supporting its different governments’ policies regarding the establishment of formal education. Afghanistan’s school textbooks were published in support of alternate ideological regimes or governments during the years 1979 to 2002. From 2003 to 2014, the Afghanistan Islamic Republic government, with support from international donor agencies, worked to change the direction of education towards peace, free from political intervention and favouritism. The purpose of this research is to evaluate three different approaches to education in Afghanistan by examining a range of school textbooks, from three distinct political and cultural regimes, from a peace education perspective. This thesis focuses in particular on the extent to which the objectives of peace education appear in Afghanistan’s newly developed school textbooks between the years 2004 and 2014. There has not previously been a systematic investigation of peace education qualities in national curriculum in Afghanistan from the three distinct ideological regimes that comprise political modernity in the region—the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (Communist), the Islamic State of Afghanistan (Jihadi) and the current Afghanistan Islamic Republic and this doctoral thesis presents an historic and comparative appreciation for education as a vehicle of nationalism from a peacebuilding perspective. Using components of the Peace Education Curricular Analysis Project, an analytical framework developed by peace scholar Katerina Standish, three objectives of peace education are surveyed in the Afghanistan data: 1. recognizing violence, 2. resolving conflict non-violently, and 3. fostering an environment of positive peace. School textbooks from the Communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), the Islamic State of Afghanistan (ISAG), and the current Afghanistan Islamic Republic Government (AIRG) were analysed using directive qualitative content analysis (Krippendorf 2004). Illustrative statistics derived from summative or quantitative content analysis (Neuendorf 2002) have also been used as the methodology for this research. This analysis finds that Afghanistan school textbooks from 1980 to 2002 (regime 1 and 2) were largely ideological support mechanisms for the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and Islamic State of Afghanistan (ISAG), whereas textbooks that were developed from 2004 to 2014 under the Afghanistan Islamic Republic Government (AIRG), have somewhat met peace education objectives. This original research demonstrates that the Afghanistan Ministry of Education, in contrast to the two prior political–cultural regimes in the country, is exhibiting more explicit peace education intentions in order to recognize and transform violence and contribute to positive peace, but that many opportunities exist to further strengthen peace education content in the school textbooks in the country. As peace education theory implies that education systems can help to transform society (Harris 2004), this study’s findings illustrate how one post-conflict nation is embracing peacebuilding via the national curriculum. This analysis of current school textbooks in Afghanistan demonstrates that students are, to some extent, receiving education towards peace, and that the integration of information relevant to peace education is an attempt to empower students towards sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
Advisor: Devere, Heather; Standish, Katerina
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Afghanistan; Peace; Education
Research Type: Thesis