Peace Education in Post-Conflicts: Côte d'Ivoire Case Study


The Ivorian education system has faced several challenges, including two civil wars, gender and ethnic discrimination, curriculum not sufficiently adapted to post-conflict reconstruction, among other challenges. These constraints, mainly related to violence and the politicization of the school space, have had a considerable impact on the country's peacebuilding and cohesion. Consequently, Ivorian and international institutions have turned their attention to the concept of peace education to regulate and improve a damaged education system. To understand the importance of peace education in Côte d'Ivoire, this article first defines the terms of conflict, education, and peace, delves into the principles of peace education, and finally applies the theoretical framework to the case study of Côte d'Ivoire.

Keywords: Education, Conflict, Peace, Peace Education, Côte d'Ivoire, Violence.


Learning to live together has become increasingly important in today's fragmented world. As history has shown, tensions may develop into terrible wars. On the other hand, knowledge, comprehension, respect for others, or compassion may be taught to maintain peace. Therefore, education is the key. The path of education that leads to a more peaceful society is known by different names in distinct parts of the world. Still, the impact is the same: the prevention of violent conflict, conflict resolution, or peacekeeping. Regarding the importance of education in peacebuilding and peacekeeping, the concept of peace education and its implementation combines the essential ideals about education and peace and thus acts as a deterrence to violence. If well applied, peace education as a program, a concept, or an idea provides a valuable service to conflict or post-conflict affected communities such as Côte d'Ivoire. This paper is structured in three (3) parts to examine peace education. It is crucial to comprehend peace, education, and conflict to understand the idea of peace education; therefore, the article first discusses the critical definitions of these topics and how they impact each other. Second, the report delves into the conception of peace education and its fundamental principle. And finally, it comprehends and discusses how conflict may disrupt educational services using the Ivorian case and reviews how the Ivorian government and international institutions work to improve the education system.

Conflict, Peace, And Education

While education may be simply defined as the transmission of knowledge, skills, and fundamental values and norms, the idea of peace and conflict is less well defined. Conflict, on the first hand, has been described by the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC) as "the result of a disagreement between actors based on perceived incompatible goals" (Conflict Sensitivity Consortium, 2012: 2). As described in the GSDRC topic guide, conflict can be observed at different levels: "the interpersonal, the group or community and national level,"

and how they interact. On the other hand, many authors categorize the concept of peace as positive and negative peace in their writings. In fact, following the idea of the Global Peace Index, the absence of physical violence or war in a state is defined as negative peace. In contrast, positive peace (apart from the lack of physical violence) further implies building a society free of structural violence and social injustice (Global Peace Index, 2019). As a result, peace education may be characterized as an interdisciplinary field of study whose goal is to teach formal and informal settings about and for peace.

Peace Education and its Basic Principles

Peace education aims to help students acquire and reinforce nonviolent conflict resolution skills in order to promote peace principles and play active and responsible roles in their communities. Unlike conflict resolution, which is a reactive strategy of attempting to resolve a problem after it has already happened, peace education is proactive and reactive (Education for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding, 2012). Its purpose is to prevent conflicts from arising in the first place or teach individuals and societies how to live in peace based on nonviolence, tolerance, equality, respect for diversity, and justice. (Peace Education, 2022).

As indicated by international declarations and scholarly literature, peace education is now recognized as an essential aspect of educational endeavors. Students or people are educated toward personal fulfillment and the building of a cooperative society in what is known as an interpretation of peace education (The Influence of education on conflict and peacebuilding, 2010). However, peace education may also represent the opposition to war, militarism, and arms races from a more minimalist approach. The concept of peace education as a right and the idea of peace promotion are particularly intriguing in the international relations environment, especially in terms of education. Finally, peace education is still in its early stages, necessitating further conceptual and applied investigation (Peace Education, 2002)

The Peace Education Programs (Côte d'Ivoire Case Study)

A. Côte d'Ivoire: The Conflict and Post-Conflict Impact

In 1990, Côte d'Ivoire made a forced return to a multiparty system after three decades of single-party rule. The national break-up, following social and political demands, the national break-up opened up the conquest of state power to any citizen who thought they could do so. However, the multiparty system promised more significant social and political stability and gave way to an even more significant and more violent social divide.

As a result, over the decades, Côte d'Ivoire has witnessed a tribalization of society, politics, and any sector that could contribute to the construction of an environment of peace and development, particularly education. Indeed, the underlying reasons for the wars in Côte d'Ivoire are many and complicated; however, the education sector has been both a victim and a trigger of the violence. Following a boycott of the presidential election in 1995, a coup d'état in 1999, and a failed coup attempt that turned into an armed rebellion in 2002, the Ivorian state saw its national territory divided in two, splitting communities undermining already weak public institutions, including the education system.

Moreover, when it came to the function of education, the problem was less about the curriculum, which was uniform throughout the country, than about access to, coordination of, and distribution of resources, which were unevenly distributed across the country. In 2010, Côte d'Ivoire faced a second civil war that severely impacted the country's education system. These educational inequalities intensified grievances and provided fertile ground for violent political and social protest, paving the way for politicizing education and fueling the war.

B. Côte d'Ivoire: Peace Education Implementation and Programs

These conflicts in Côte d'Ivoire have taken a heavy toll on an already struggling education system. As a result, the Ivorian education system was relegated to the bottom of the list of national priorities, depriving it of thousands of stakeholders, including students and instructors. The involvement of government and the private sector in the education system has made it possible to address issues of coordination, curriculum, funding, pedagogy, and accessibility and those surrounding peace and conflict. Therefore, after the 2010 civil war, the government became necessary to move beyond previous initiatives that saw education as a means of reducing poverty and adopt approaches that recognized the complex link between education and conflict.

With the support of UNICEF, UNESCO, and other agencies, Côte d'Ivoire is seeking educational strategies to build and promote peace. Education is therefore used as a driver of peace, seeking to mitigate or eliminate the impact of conflict factors, including the harmful politicization of the education system, the division, and fragility of community structures, gender discrimination, and inequitable access to social services.

Following the post-election crisis in 2010, the government's first initiative through the Ministry of Education was the introduction of Human Rights and Citizenship Education (EDHC) into the curriculum in 2012. This course, developed with the help of international institutions, aims to introduce into the Ivorian education system a method of transition to a better understanding of how to live together, collective culture of peace, diversity, and tolerance (Vers une culture de la Paix en Côte d'Ivoire? 2015, p. 4). Taught from primary to secondary school, the EDHC replaces the Civic and Moral Education (ECM) program that has been conducted since 1983. The ECM, which did not contain any notion of a culture of peace, reconciliation, or human rights, played no role in the social construction phase of Côte d'Ivoire after the 2002 crisis (ibid., p. 7). Therefore, by relying on specific participatory and interactive pedagogical rules and topics such as human rights, citizenship, democratic principles, and community life, the EDHC seems to fulfill all the conditions for an efficient and effective peace education program. (Ibid.)

In addition to the EDHC program, the Ivorian government collaborated with UNICEF Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme (PBEA) to adopt the "Learning for Peace" program from 2012 to 2016. The PBEA program seeks to build peaceful societies by strengthening the role of education in peacebuilding and integrating peacebuilding within the education system. In interaction with the "Learning for Peace" program, UNICEF and the Ivorian government decided to use school education to facilitate social interaction, dialogue, learning, development, and community peacebuilding. This program got promoted with the involvement of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) commenced with the association Women in Côte d'Ivoire to promote gender equality in communities and schools, enhance skills building and stand against violence in school (Learning for Peace, Côte d'Ivoire: Women's Group and ECD, 2015).


There is little evidence to inform the effectiveness of policies and programs in linking education, conflict, and peacebuilding in Côte d'Ivoire. Despite the efforts of Ivorian institutions, the culture of peace through education remains an unknown variable to the population. With programs such as the EDHC, excluding local actors in the Ivorian education system from developing this program undermines its credibility and efficiency. It thus compromises its full insertion into the mindset and its chances of success (Vers une culture de la paix en Côte d'Ivoire? 2015). In addition to the EDHC, most peace education reforms, programs, or courses are established jointly with international organizations with the appropriate expertise. Still, they do not necessarily consider the realities experienced by the population, teachers, and the Ivorian education system. Moreover, the lack of a study manual on these programs for pupils can also considerably impact their capacity to assimilate and understand them. Even though participatory and interactive pedagogies have been prescribed for these programs, it is clear that the insertion of many peace education programs, including EDHC, and PBEA, is slow and not conclusive yet.


Faced with the observation that civil wars have scorned the education system, it became useful, if not inevitable, for Côte d'Ivoire to advise on the impact of the various conflicts on education. With an educational crisis already confirmed, the conflicts that the Ivorian population has had to face have considerably affected pedagogy and the quality of teaching and have politicized the schools. As a result, one of the significant challenges facing Côte d'Ivoire today is establishing specific values, social cohesion, and cultural balance through education to build national unity and peace. Even though schools are not considered to be the preferred channel for conducting debates, education can be a good vehicle for disseminating information in the promotion, maintenance, and construction of peace. By promoting peace, quality education for all, inclusive communities, and cohesion, peace education perfectly aligned with the achievement of these goals for Côte d'Ivoire. Peace education is a topic that involves the theoretical, research, and practical implementation of peace. To sum up, it is defined as a process of standing against conflict and violence in a preventive and post-conflict manner

Author: Nabidja Fofana 


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Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace