Inside Books: Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan by Dana Burde

Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan
By Dana Burde
Columbia University Press, 2014

How can children access education while a country is at war? While foreign-backed funding for education may play a role, it does not always stabilize a country in conflict. In fact, aid to education in Afghanistan appears to have bolstered underlying conditions for conflict both deliberately in the 1980s through violence-infused curricula and inadvertently in the 2000s through misguided stabilization programs.

For education to promote peace in Afghanistan, Dana Burde, assistant professor of international education at NYU Steinhardt, argues that we must expand equal access to quality education. Community-based schools—which are often run by a non-governmental organization in partnership with a local village—have offered a viable solution for reaching children in remote areas of Afghanistan. A successful U.S. effort demonstrated that community-based education can boost classroom attendance and even eliminate gender disparities in rural areas, while building peace in lasting ways.

Burde’s new book, Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan, draws on up-to-date research on humanitarian education work amid conflict zones around the world—including fieldwork in Afghanistan and Pakistan collected over the past eight years. She writes that, “neutral, reasonably good-quality education, supported thoughtfully and systematically and with humanitarian assistance rather than politico-military advantage as the goal, has the potential to mitigate conflict and promote peace.”