Does education inequality lead to violent conflict? This is one of the big questions that Unicef’s Learning for Peace research and programming have sought to answer. Tomorrow Unicef and FHI360 are hosting a panel on the topic; we were able to chat with one of tomorrow’s panelist’s Carina Omoeva, PhD, Director, Education Policy and Data Center at FHI 360 and learn more about her work as a main author of the recent analysis, Does Horizontal Education Inequality Lead to Violent Conflict?
What did the analysis cover?
Carina and her team examined, Are countries where some ethnic or religious groups have systematically lower levels of education more likely to experience civil conflict than those where all groups have equal access to school?
Their analysis drew on two datasets, the Education Inequality and Conflict (EIC) Dataset which covers 50 years and almost 100 countries, and the Subnational Education Inequality and Conflict Dataset (SEIC) which examines from 1989 to 2012 and includes data from over 200 subnational regions in 24 nations. These datasets in tandem were used to examine
- The relationship between horizontal inequalities at the national level and the likelihood that a country will experience conflict in the next five years.
- How inequalities within the same nation affect different subnational regions’ likelihood of experiencing conflict-related violence.
A true value of the analysis, according to Carina, is “This analysis examined a much wider time period –looking all the way back to the 1960s – and more extensively examines identity groups and sets of relationships than previous efforts. We can now have more confidence, as a field, in the relationship between inequality and conflict. We have built a bigger foundation on which to examine these issues.”
What did the analysis find?
Their research found a statistically significant and large relationship between ethnic and religious inequality on the likelihood of conflict in the 2000s. As Carina puts it, “The research asked a large conceptual question, which in turn raises more questions for further exploration. We have a stronger foundation from which to say, it is important to invest in equity and education, for education and for broader outcomes for society.”
“We were not sure what we would find once we accounted for the root factors of conflict such as poverty and location, but in fact did find that the relationship between education and conflict was significant. The research does point to anything as simple as a direct link from not in school to taking up arms, but it opens opportunities for further research to unpack this relationship and understand the different causes and influences of disenfranchisement and disempowerment.”
“Education is a strong predictor of conflict. If we use the example of the civil rights movement, education was the place where inequality became vivid and tangible, but it wasn’t only through education that the population was being marginalized. Still it is through education that inequality can be identified and corrected.”
What comes next?
If this analysis shows that there is a relationship, then what is it, and what does it do, and how do we tackle it?FHI 360 is continuing their work and research on the issue of Inequality in Education. They have recently launched a new initiative, The Last Barrier, focusing on causes and consequences of education inequalities. Through The Last Barrier, the Education Policy and Data Center (EPDC) will convene and lead a consortium to research the institutional and cultural barriers preventing universal access to quality schooling, and develop an evidence base of effective ways to break cycles of inequality.
When asked how she hopes this analysis can focus the issue and more it forward, Carina said, “I am optimistic about the interest this research will generate about inequalities in education and conflict. I hope it encourages organizations to build the coalitions necessary to keep up the momentum of good work. Especially with the attention and enthusiasm for new goals around the SDGs, we need to address equity before we can move to targets for learning.”
For more information…