Investigating to what extent the historical enquiry of multiple perspectives on the violent past affects secondary school teachers’ and students’ knowledge of the root causes of conflict and fosters mutual understanding and empathy between groups.
While the education system alone cannot claim to rebuild peace or reconcile a country, critically engaging with the violent past in school is often argued to foster mutual understanding and empathy between (previously) conflicting groups. Whereas the Congolese secondary school curricula of history and civic and moral education (Education civique et morale, ECM) do not entirely silence the country’s violent past, teaching and learning about the country’s history of conflict is reduced to a summary of key events, addressed in a scant and superficial manner by teachers, who are ill-prepared to deal with such a difficult past. As such, it fails to mediate and contextualize the selective and uncritical knowledge about the conflict that young people often have.
In accordance with EdJAM’s themes ‘History Education and Classrooms’ and ‘Transitional Justice and Memory’, the current project ‘Uprooted: co-creating an educational timeline addressing the violent past’ aims to address these challenges by:
- developing suitable online educational materials
- setting up a pilot project to examine their use.
20 history and ECM teachers from 10 secondary schools in Bukavu, the first city in Eastern DR Congo to fall under the control of rebel forces in 1996, will use the educational materials in the classroom, all the while taking part in Communities of Practice to receive adequate support. When selecting schools for participation, particular attention will be paid to ensure disadvantaged groups (e.g., female teachers, learners from under-represented groups such as the Batwa or Banyamulenge) are well represented.
Based on this pilot project, the project team, a partnership between the Université Catholique de Bukavu and the Centre for Research on Peace and Development (CRPD; University of Leuven, Belgium) will investigate to what extent the historical enquiry of multiple perspectives on the violent past affects secondary school teachers’ and students’ knowledge of the root causes of conflict and fosters mutual understanding and empathy between groups. To this end, the researchers will conduct a pre-and post-intervention measurement among the teachers and their students.
- As a result of a co-creation process with local stakeholders, we will develop educational materials which will consist of historical documents, photographs, and (recorded) testimonials representing multiple perspectives on the past and its lingering impacts; combined into an interactive timeline of the history of conflicts, hosted on a dedicated website and app.
- The results will be presented in a working paper that will be submitted for academic conferences and publication
By familiarizing users of the webtool/app with multiple perspectives on the past conflict and studying its root causes and societal impacts in a constructive manner, ‘uprooted’ thus aims to directly benefit all 20 teachers involved in the pilot project as well as their students. Indirectly, we hope to extend our reach beyond the pilot schools by promoting the web tool/app via social media and organize a dedicated event with local policymakers; creating a ripple effect that contributes to uprooting the causes of conflict and preventing conflict recurrence in Eastern DR Congo.
Meet the team:
Justin Sheria Nfundiko
Associate Professorview details
Post-doctoral researcherview details
Prof. Arnim Langer
Director of Centre for Research on Peace and Development & UNESCO Chair in Building Sustainable Peaceview details