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Published by: Ikram on Dec 22, 2012
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Conflict & Education
-An Interdisciplinary Journal - 
Engaged Research. Informed Policy. Improved Schools.
Conflict, Education and Displacement
Sarah Dryden-Peterson
Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationUniversity of Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Children make up half of people forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict. The impacts of thisconflict-included displacement on education are immense. This essay focuses on five urgent challenges foreducation in these settings, including barriers to access, the protracted nature of displacement, urbandisplacement, physical integration without social integration, and the search for quality. Three central ideasemerge from these challenges as priorities for future research: the need for comprehensive data on access toand quality of education for refugee and IDP children in order to understand the context-specific nature of general challenges; the use of “integration” as a guiding concept for education in displacement, specifically investigation of the social implications of physical integration; and the role of education as a portable durablesolution for displaced children, including implications for curriculum, pedagogy, and post-primary opportunities.
Displacement, conflict, education, refugees, IDPs _____________________________________________________________________________________ 
isplacement is a primary consequenceof the nature of contemporary conflict. Wars among competing groups withinnational boundaries, which have increased sincethe Cold War, are devastating to civilians becauseof mortality, destroyed infrastructure andlivelihoods, and the need to flee one’s home. Theextent of displacement is one of the measures of the severity of a conflict, along with casualties andduration. Displacement on a massive scale is notuncommon. Of all the people who haveexperienced conflict, 56 percent have been
displaced. Over the course of the conflict in Afghanistan, 76 percent of the population hasbeen displaced, and in Liberia, 90 percent (ICRC,2009, p. 6). At the end of 2009, 43.3 millionpeople were displaced globally, including 15.2million refugees, who were displaced acrossnational borders, and 27.1 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs), who remained in theirown country (UNHCR, 2010a). There are three principal ways in which conflictleads to displacement for children and theirfamilies. First, civilians can be inadvertently caughtbetween fighting factions and either flee once
Dryden-Peterson, S. (2011). Conflict, Education and Displacement
Conflict and Education, 1:1
Dryden-Peterson (2011)
 violence reaches their community or flee inanticipation of the violence. Second, armed groupsadopt strategies of war explicitly aimed atprompting widespread displacement and/ordisplacement of specific individuals and groups. Third, displacement results from the disruption of economic and social life brought about by conflict(Ferris & Winthrop, 2010, p. 5). The effects of displacement on children areparticularly pronounced. UNICEF estimates thatabout 50 percent of people forced to flee theirhomes as a result of conflict are children. In 2009,18 million children were displaced globall(UNICEF, 2009, p. 25). Displacement jeopardizeschildren’s physical and psychosocial health, and itpresents challenges to child protection especially related to sexual violence and recruitment intoarmed forces. Conflict-induced displacement alsohas great implications for education, both forrefugees and IDPs. This short essay begins with abrief overview of the legal framework foreducation in displacement. I then outline fivecurrent challenges for education in situations of conflict-induced displacement, which point topriorities for future research.
Legal Framework: A Brief Overview 
ll people have the right to education,including those displaced. The 1951Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees establishes the right to primareducation for refugees. Host governments arecompelled to carry out the provisions of Article 22of this Convention, in that they “shall accord torefugees the same treatment as it accorded tonationals with respect to elementary education …[and] … treatment as favourable as possible … with respect to education other than elementary education” (UNHCR, 2010b, p. 24). In the case of IDPs, responsibility lies with national authorities,as outlined in the 1998
Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 
. However, within the framework of 
the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in asituation where there is lack of capacity and/orresources, the international community has a duty to ensure that this right is universally fulfilled. TheUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) is mandated with the protection of refugees, for example, including the provision of education. What does the right to education mean? Whetherin situations of displacement or not, the UNCommittee on Economic, Social and CulturalRights has outlined four essential elements of theright to education: availability, accessibility,acceptability, and adaptability (the “Four As”). Through accessing an education that is available,acceptable, and adaptable, the right to educationbecomes an “enabling right,permitting theactivation of other civil and political rights.
Education in Displacement: Five CurrentChallenges
1. Barriers to Access 
he gap between the formal right toeducation for displaced children versus itsprovision is clear. In Afghanistan, 21percent of respondents in an InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey notethat “not being able to get an education” is one of their top fears related to displacement (ICRC,2009, p. 43). In some cases, opportunities foreducation can increase in displacement, as for Afghan refugees in some parts of Pakistan. Yet inmost cases, this fear is well-founded, as bothrefugees and IDPs are groups of children whoremain out-of-school in large numbers. While datais often limited and unreliable, UNHCR estimatesthat primary school participation in camps is 69percent and at secondary, only 30 percent. Theseglobal enrollment rates masks large inequitiesacross camps, such that even within one country primary gross enrollment ratios (GER) can range
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Dryden-Peterson (2011)
from zero to one hundred percent (UNESCO,2011, p. 155). There are no global numbers of out-of-school IDP children, but available evidenceindicates that internal displacement severely impacts access to education. For example, in anarea of high internal displacement in Nord Kivu,Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), only 34percent of children have access to schoolcompared to 52 percent nationally (RefugeesInternational, 2009, p. 5). The barriers to accessing education indisplacement are similar to the barriers in any conflict setting (see Dryden-Peterson, 2010b), butthey can impact children in situations odisplacement through different mechanisms.Children who are displaced describe facing greaterpoverty than they did in their home communities. They have usually left behind their possessionsand, with restrictions on freedom of movementand the regulation of professions, often theirfamilies’ livelihoods. Uncertainty about the futurecompounds poverty and leads to doubts about thebenefits of education, adding to the opportunity costs of school attendance. Discrimination basedon gender and disability are often heightenedduring times of conflict, when community supportsystems disintegrate, social norms break down,and laws are not enforced. Displacement can leadto interrupted schooling and result in largenumbers of overage children who struggle toaccess and persist in school. Further, areas in which refugees and IDPs live are often the mostneglected regions with infertile land and lack of access to services and infrastructure, includinschools.
2. The Protracted Nature of Displacement 
ixty-eight percent of refugees worldwidelived in a “protracted” situation at the endof 2009 (UNESCO, 2011, p. 153), definedas being displaced for five or more years withoutthe prospect of one of three durable solutions of 
repatriation to the home country, local integrationto the country of asylum, or resettlement to a thirdcountry. Many IDPs are similarly displaced overlong periods of time, such as in the Balkans,Georgia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Colombia (Ferris& Winthrop, 2010, p. 9). In some cases,displacement is on-going, such as for children ineastern DRC where “displacement is sometimesdaily” and children’s schooling is constantly disrupted (Dryden-Peterson, 2010a). Theprotracted nature of contemporary displacementleads to an overarching sense of uncertainty forchildren and families, with three centralimplications for education. First, education needsto be a first-line response in displacementsituations, playing a critical role in restoring animmediate sense of normalcy for displacedchildren. Second, educational planning cannot beshort-term but must be forward-looking in nature,recognizing the likelihood that any given childcannot wait for an end to displacement if he/sheis to pursue an education. Third is the under-explored idea that education itself is a portabledurable solution given that future security – economic, political, and social – is less connectedto where one is geographically and more to skills,capacities, and knowledge that can accompany anindividual no matter where that future may be. Asa durable solution, increased post-primary opportunities are critical.
3. Urban Displacement 
he majority of the world’s population now lives in cities. Reflecting these trends,UNHCR estimates that about half of refugees globally also live in cities (UNHCR,2009b). Internal displacement is alsopredominantly urban in nature, often reflecting large migrations from conflict-affected rural areasof a country to the relative safety of towns andcities, for example in Colombia and, formerly, inNorthern Uganda. While once the domain of young men, the urban displaced increasingl
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