Ervjola Selenica

University of Trento (Italy), Doctoral School in International Studies

Ervjola Selenica

New States Challenged: Post-Conflict Education, Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in Kosovo and Timor-Leste

The provision of education has been a core function legitimizing the modern nation-state along the trajectory of its historical development. 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 post-conflict restructuration.

While a vast body of studies exists on education and violent conflict (e.g., in conflict affected regions), 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 will focus 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 are more conducive to peace.

The research is premised on a logic of comparison, which aims to assess how varying configurations of education systems may have different impacts on the plausability of a positive outcome. For this purpose, I intend to conduct fieldwork in Kosovo and Timor–Leste, two recent cases where major statebuilding and peacebuilding processes have been launched.

The research that I will conduct on the ground will first map education programming and reform by identifying the main actors that have been part of the process. In this regard, a particular focus will be on education policies and projects that are promoted by international actors. Second, I will conceptualize the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of these reforms by interviewing key local and international stakeholders. Third, I will explore and analyse the ways in which externally assisted education may have contributed to consolidating peace.