No.187 A Second Chance for Education: Examining the Roles of Education in Conflict and Peace based on Life Stories from Bosnia and Herzegovina
This study focuses on the second chance for education (SCE) experienced by children whose secondary education was at some point interrupted by the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. Individual war experiences in that country had a significant impact depending on location, ranging from limited destruction to complete and violent ethnic cleansing. The availability of educational opportunities was similarly varied. Many schools continued to operate, some functioned intermittently depending on the intensity of local fighting, and others were shut down. Although few studies have specifically addressed the issue, a significant number of children who experienced interruption of their education were still able to obtain a second chance through their and their family’s efforts. This study applies the life story method to better understand how their education was interrupted, how and why SCE was obtained and discusses what SCE meant for them. 31 individuals were interviewed either face-to-face or by Skype, and this paper focuses on 13 of these individuals as detailed case studies. By bringing these neglected to date voices into the research on education, conflict and peace, the study determined that four roles can be played by education – including SCE - in a conflict-affected society. First, education may provide children with protection and help to sustain some partial normalcy in life. Second, it may help sustain hope for the future. As a third and related point, education offers an opportunity for self-realization, as students can obtain knowledge and skills that may help them to survive their ordeal. And finally, with the education and skills obtained, youth may be in a better position to contribute to social transformation as agents for peacebuilding. Therefore, for the sake of peacebuilding, more attention is required to support and sustain education in conflict-affected countries.
Keywords: Education, Second Chance, Armed Conflict, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Peacebuilding