Post‐graduate peace education in Sri Lanka

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This article was downloaded by: [University of Kiel]On: 25 October 2014, At: 11:28Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKJournal of Peace EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: peace education in SriLankaSimon Harris a & Nick Lewer ba Social Scientists Association , Sri Lankab University of Bradford , UKPublished online: 23 Jan 2007.To cite this article: Simon Harris & Nick Lewer (2005) Postgraduate peace education in Sri Lanka,Journal of Peace Education, 2:2, 109-124, DOI: 10.1080/17400200500173493To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. 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Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at of Peace EducationVol. 2, No. 2, Sept 2005, pp. 109124ISSN 17400201 (print)/ISSN 1740021X (online)/05/02010916 2005 Taylor & Francis Group LtdDOI: 10.1080/17400200500173493Post-graduate peace education in Sri LankaSimon Harrisa and Nick Lewerb*aSocial Scientists Association, Sri Lanka; bUniversity of Bradford, UKTaylor and Francis LtdCJPE117332.sgm10.1080/17400200500173493Journal of Peace Education1740-0201 (print)/1740-021X (online)Original Article2005Taylor & Francis Group Ltd22000000Sept 2005NickLewerCentre for Conflict Resolution, Department of Peace StudiesUniversity of BradfordBradfordWest YorkshireBD7 paper summarises the rationale, development, content, and delivery of a Post GraduateDiploma in Conflict Resolution and Peace Preparedness in Sri Lanka, a country that has experi-enced a violent and protracted social conflict over the last 25 years. It also describes the methodol-ogy which is being used to measure the peace impact of the programme. Difficulties encounteredand lessons learned are discussed, and some early indicators of the programmes effectiveness eval-uated. It is clear that the impact of such a programme cannot be fully measured in the short term,since peace education should be seen as a process whereby knowledge and skills gained can be bothutilised in the short term and reflected upon in the long term.IntroductionIn times of conflict the study of peace can be controversial, leaving proponents opento accusations of appeasement or of having sympathies with the enemy. For outsiderscoming into the conflict, allegations of interference into the internal affairs of a coun-try, or of having bias to one side or another, are frequently made and their motivesand methods are questioned. This, of course, is understandable in highly chargedsituations where there is often well grounded fear and mistrust of an enemy, andwhere people who have lived through times of extreme violence have experiencedpersonal trauma and loss of their loved ones. Talk and study of peace may beconsidered defeatist and giving in to deadly foes. It was within such a context that apost-graduate Diploma in Conflict Resolution and Peace Preparedness was firstconceived in Sri Lanka, a country that has experienced violent insurgencies in both1977 and 1989, and a protracted militant ethnic separatist conflict since 1983.The multiple conflicts that Sri Lanka has experienced over the past thirty years area complex fusion of interrelated cultural, political, religious, social and economicdynamics largely informed by the construction of nationalism, identity and*Corresponding author. Centre for Conflict Resolution, Department of Peace Studies, Universityof Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1DP, UK. Email: by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 110 S. Harris and N. Lewerrelationships during the colonial era and the subsequent negotiation of post-indepen-dence challenges in a multi-ethnic society. After Independence in 1948, Sri LankasSinhalese Buddhist majority population sought to redress the perceived injustices ofBritish rule and the disproportionate political influence that they believed the colonialproject had afforded the Tamil minority. These populist sentiments were legitimisedthrough the enactment of early post-Independence legislation that disenfranchisedmany Tamils of Indian origin, deprived them of their residency rights, providedspecial recognition to Buddhism as the foremost religion, and enshrined Sinhalese asthe official state language. This initial failure to establish a pluralist nation withrespect for minority rights helped lay the foundation for the violent expression of bothSinhalese and Tamil nationalist aspirations that were to follow. Tamil militancydeveloped through the 1970s out of frustrations over the ineffectiveness of peacefuland democratic protest to achieve substantive change. By the early 1980s theLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) emerged as the dominant militant groupaspiring for an independent Tamil homeland (Gunaratna, 1994; Swamy, 1994;Balasingham, 2004).During most of the twenty years of conflict between the LTTE and Sri LankanGovernment forces the subject of peace was often an extremely emotive and politi-cally charged concept. Local and international organisations involved in peace relatedactivities were often negatively portrayed by the popular media and viewed with suspi-cion by the parties to the conflict. For example Oxfam GB, an agency which theauthors worked with extensively throughout the 1990s, had to rephrase their work onpeace-building as relationship building, in order to conduct training programmes onconflict sensitive development in the north and east. The same organisation had itsColombo offices bombed by (allegedly) Sinhalese militants in 2001 as a protestagainst the British Governments debate over whether the LTTE should beproscribed.Spaces for peaceThe possibilities for peace and a space for peace related activity and education reallyopened up in August 2001 when both Sinhalese political and public opinion changedas result of an LTTE attack which temporarily crippled Sri Lankas only internationalairport. This provoked mass public and business sector mobilisation to lobby for achange of government and the commencement of peace negotiations. A month later,LTTE opinion seemed to shift with a recognition of the implications that 9/11 wouldhave on its capacity to continue a military campaign. There is an extensive literaturerelating to the history, causes, and peace initiatives in Sri Lanka, and interested read-ers are directed to this (Tambiah, 1992; Bullion, 1995; Loganathan, 1996; de Silva,1998; Rotberg, 1999; Lewer & William, 2002; Ferdinands, 2004). Suffice it to saythat in February 2002 a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Government ofSri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) providing a breathingspace within which to enrol the first batch of students. To date (June 2005), despitefrequent incidents, the ceasefire has held.Downloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 Peace education in Sri Lanka 111After a difficult start, peace education has become established in many centresaround the world, and a quick search of both internet sources, peace literature(Harris, 1999) and perusal of publications such as the Journal of Peace Research, theJournal of Peace Education, Peace and Change, the International Peace ResearchNewsletter, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution reveals just how many countriesnow have academic units concerned with peace research and peace education.Similarly the relevance and development of peace education theory and peaceeducation projects, has been thoroughly reviewed and analysed elsewhere (Wulf,1974; Renna, 1980; Reardon, 1988; Vriens, 1991; Harris, 2004). What we willdescribe in this paper is the design and implementation of a peace education post-graduate diploma in a country which has been affected by a protracted socialconflict over the last 25 years.InfluencesUNESCOIn this section what we want to do, briefly, is signpost a few of the influences on ourphilosophy and approaches to adult, formal, peace education. We work from thepremise that peace education enhances the construction of a peaceful society. TheUniversal Declaration of Human Rights provides a landmark for peace education: Education shall be directed to the full development of human personality and to thestrengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promoteunderstanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups andshall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace (Article 26,Para. 2Universal Declaration of Human Rights).UNESCO has continually promoted peace education as one of the means of creat-ing a culture of peace and in the preamble to its constitution, UNESCO declares thatsince wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences ofpeace must be constructed (UNESCO Constitution, 1945). UNESCOs GeneralConference in November 1974 made several important recommendations concern-ing education for international understanding, co-operation and peace and educationrelating to human rights and fundamental freedoms. It re-iterated the need for educa-tional policy to be guided by principals including that it should: have an internationaldimension and a global perspective; incorporate an understanding and respect for allpeoples, their cultures, civilisations, values and ways of life, including domestic ethniccultures and cultures of other nations; promote communication with others; and forindividuals to take part in solving the problems of their community, their country andthe world at large (UNESCO, 1974). In its Medium Term Strategy published in2002, UNESCO strategy is formulated around a single unifying themea UNESCOcontribution to peace and development in an era of globalisation through education,the sciences, culture and communication. The role of education in promoting aculture of peace and sustainable development is highlighted in the strategic objective2 of the education section of the strategy (UNESCO, 2002).Downloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 112 S. Harris and N. LewerPeace studiesElsewhere peace education and peace research have been described as the science ofsurvival (Rling, quoted in OConnell & Curle, 1985, p. 2) and we would agree withOConnell that: there are subjects such as peace that our civilisation cannot afford not to study. In the issueof peace what is at stake in our timesis the intellectual, moral, and physical well being ofindividuals and groups. What is at stake at a global level is not only such well being buthuman survival (OConnell, 1985, p. 50).We also are clear that there is often a tension between the activists, those peaceworkers that want to get on with the job, and requirements that are inherent in theacademic study of peace: Moreover, in elaborating and teaching and research that were heavily applied it was noteasy early on to separate academic work on peace from activism about peace in the mindsof students. The latter tended to be impatient with theory and anxious for action. Only asthe years went by did the conviction crystallise that the true activism of university work isin scholarship (OConnell & Curle, 1985, p. 3)Whilst having a high vision for what we would like peace education to contribute,it must be pragmatic and fit the context. Programmes must not preach to studentsnor import western values and agendas - some have referred to peace education as anew form of western colonialism which covertly imports western values and ideolo-gies. For us, peace education must use an elicitive approach, so well described byLederach (1995, 1997), which draws from local expertise and knowledge, whilst offer-ing broader international knowledge and experience to be integrated as appropriate.So, what should a good peace education programme incorporate? According toCurle the purpose of peace education is: Firstly, to engage in a study, made systematic by the analysis of relationships, of importantissues, both contemporary and historical; secondly, to attempt to apply analysis to prac-tice; thirdly to offer a good general education and useful approach to some of the worldsmost urgent problems (Curle, 1985, p. 21).Such goals were further articulated by OConnell who stressed that peace educa-tion must be forward looking. Students should be encouraged to look to the futurewithin the context of positive peace, and to take a broad view based on rigorousacademic study and investigation: Peace studies involves teaching and learning, research and practical application. If its mainemphasis is applied, there is in peace studies as in all scholarly study a speculative thrust.For all the importance of application the speculative thrust is essential. Its contribution isto provide a longer-term perspective to looking at peace as well as providing the detach-ment and breadth that are sometimes missed out in practical concentration or in ideolog-ically committed orientations (OConnell, 1985, p. 48).A growing interest in peacebuilding, conflict resolution and peace educationAs we have noted elsewhere (Harris & Lewer, 2002b), during the 1990s there was anincreased interest in peacebuilding and conflict resolution amongst civil society andDownloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 Peace education in Sri Lanka 113development agencies in Sri Lanka. The concept that relief and development initia-tives have an impact on, and can be influenced by, the conflict dynamics within whichthey operate was extensively discussed. It was acknowledged by all sectors that whereviolent conflict exists, it is a key reason for poverty and underdevelopment (Chalker,1996; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)/Development Assistance Committee (DAC), 1997; OReilly, 1998; Anderson, 1999;Bush, 1999; Lewer, 1999; Short, 1999). The Band Aid approach of the past neededto be supplanted by more proactive interventions which tackled the dynamics andcauses of conflict, as well as just trying to deliver emergency relief and traditionaldevelopment work. Donors and governments wanted to understand more clearly theeffects that their interventions had on conflict reductionfor example the WorldBank made peace and social harmony an integrative objective for its initiatives. InSri Lanka during this period there were a number of foreign funded action researchand training initiatives in progress related to peacebuilding and conflict reduction.These included the: Do No HarmLocal Capacities for Peace initiative(Anderson, 1999); the Department For International Development (DFID), UKfunded Complex Political Emergencies: From Relief Work to SustainableDevelopment and NGOs and Peacebuilding (Goodhand & Lewer, 1999;Goodhand, Hulme & Lewer, 2000, 2001); Deutsche Gesellschaft fur TechnisheZusammernarbeit (GTZ) and Heidleberg South Asia Institute Local Capacities andConflict Management in Sri Lanka (South Asia Institute, 2000), and; the Life andPeace Institute from Sweden working with Sri Lankan Inter-Religious PeaceFoundation (New Routes, 12, 2000).All of this activity meant that there was a growing knowledge and experience inoperational and policy spheres. But there remained a gap in relation to embeddingand institutionalising this at a deeper and more sustainable level, and it was in thisrespect that the PG Diploma was thought to have a vital role.A postgraduate diploma for Sri LankaIn June 2004, 20 students from a variety of backgrounds including the police, mili-tary, clergy, local government administration, international and domestic NGOsectors, graduated from the first academic course on peace and conflict resolution tobe conducted in Sri Lanka. The Post-Graduate Diploma in Conflict Resolution andPeace Preparedness is implemented by the Peace Studies Programme of the SriLankan research and educational institute the Social Scientists Association (SSA),and is validated and awarded by the Department of Peace Studies, University ofBradford, UK.The PG Diploma was conceived through a recognition that those with the job ofactually having to make peace work in Sri Lanka, such as the middle level decision-makers, NGO personnel, managers, administrators and security forces, generally hadno conceptual or theoretical bases from which to help them address the complexissues that face a transitional society emerging from years of protracted conflict. Thecourse aimed to provide people, especially those living and working in conflictDownloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 114 S. Harris and N. Leweraffected areas of Sri Lanka, with the opportunity to progress their understanding ofsuch challenges by developing an informed and applied framework for peacepreparedness and conflict resolution. The stated purpose of the Diploma was: To enhance the professional development, awareness and understanding of government,military, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and civil society managers, in thefield of conflict resolution, peace preparedness and post-conflict planning (Harris &Lewer, 2002a, p. 4)The broader goal of the programme was the hope that this awareness andunderstanding would ultimately translate into the practical and tangible applicationof conflict resolution, peace preparedness and post-conflict planning concepts andstrategies by the Diploma students.Diploma developmentThe concept of conducting a peace related diploma programme in Sri Lankadeveloped through a series of discussions over a number of years between theauthors. Both have been involved in research, conflict resolution and peace buildinginitiatives, development projects, and training programmes in Sri Lanka since theearly 1990s working with agencies such as Oxfam GB, the DFID UK, Cordaid,Quaker Peace and Service, and Peace Brigades International. This experiencerevealed that there was a limited domestic resource base or opportunity for formalacademic peace studies and conflict resolution courses. This was particularly so forlocal government, military and civil society institutions who were working in themost conflict affected and potentially volatile areas of Sri Lanka. Discussions withSri Lankan colleagues indicated that there was a demand for an internationallyrecognised academic course which would help equip people with the knowledge andskills to analyse the potential peace and conflict impacts of their work programmesand activities, and to design and initiate measures that would reduce the likelihoodof conflict and maximise the potential for peace, and for their personal andprofessional development.Although numerous short training programmes and workshops in various aspectsof peace building and conflict resolution had been provided by both local andinternational organisations for a number of years, it was felt that these offered onlyone-off, isolated and limited introductions to a particular aspect of the peace studiesand conflict resolution field. Training workshops covered topics such as negotiationskills, peace and conflict impact assessment (PCIA), and non-violent communicationand problem-solving skills. Some recent publications related to education and train-ing for peacebuilding and conflict resolution include the work of Balasooriya (2002)and Alfred and Hennessy (2003) who have produced peace education and trainingmanuals, and the resource pack on conflict sensitive approaches to development,humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding published by a consortium includingSaferworld, the Forum on Early Warning and Early Response (FEWER) andInternational Alert (2004).Downloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 Peace education in Sri Lanka 115Working in conflict affected areasWhilst these are valuable in their own right, what was missing was a sustained,comprehensive, integrated and well resourced process of formal learning for adultswhich combined conceptual and theoretical elements with practice. It was notedthat none of the Sri Lankan universities had, at that time, yet developed either anunder-graduate or post-graduate level stand-alone peace studies or conflict resolu-tion programme, although elements of conflict resolution and associated subjectsformed parts of courses such as law, political science and human rights. Whilst planswere emerging within the University of Colombo and University of Kelaniya, it wasfelt that these were likely to target students within easy access of Colombo. It wasevident that there was a gap in provision for an advanced programme of academicstudy in applied conflict resolution and peace preparedness which was accessible topeople living and working in Sri Lankas periphery or so-called outstation areasaffected by conflict, and who under such circumstances would usually not haveaccess to such a course.Curriculum constructionThe ensuing collaboration between the Department of Peace Studies, University ofBradford, UK and the Social Scientists Association Peace Studies Programme,Colombo, Sri Lanka brought together over twenty local and international academ-ics and practitioners to design a post-graduate Diploma course appropriate for theSri Lankan context of conflict and post-conflict transformation. A core curriculumdesign team developed an outline of nine modules and then invited faculty from SriLankan universities and non-governmental organisations to produce a series ofcomprehensive module handbooks. Their brief was to design modules which wereof Diploma level standard and whose content supported the purpose of theDiploma as stated above. Whilst importance was to be given to aspects of studywhich would enable students to critically analyse the Sri Lankan conflict and peaceprocesses, and to conceptually and practically understand the key issues andchallenges of resolving conflict and laying the foundations for peace, lessons frominternational experience and case studies were to be included. Nine modules wereproduced: Conflict Dynamics and Conflict Analysis (10 credits, compulsory) Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice (10 credits, compulsory) Human Rights, Reconciliation and Justice (10 credits) Peace, Conflict and Development (10 credits) Gender, Peace and Conflict (10 credits) Religion and Conflict Transformation (10 credits) Culture and Conflict (10 credits) Comparative Peace Processes (10 credits) Project Dissertation (60 credits, compulsory)Downloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 116 S. Harris and N. LewerThe modules were subject to the usual scrutiny by University of Bradford academiccommittees and quality assurance procedures before being finalised. The result, aPost Graduate Diploma in Conflict Resolution and Peace Preparedness, registered itsfirst batch of students in April 2003 on fully paid scholarships with the support of theBritish Governments Global Conflict Prevention Pool Fund.To complete the Diploma students were required to take 120 credits (six modulesand the project dissertation). Of the nine modules on offer, three are compulsory forall students (Conflict Dynamics and Conflict Analysis, Conflict Resolution Theoryand Practice, and the Project Dissertation) and students are then required to selectfour of the remaining modules. Modules consisted of 100 hours of study dividedbetween lectures, seminars, exercises, guest speakers and directed study. Teams oftwo lecturers conducted the modules with the support of a number of guest lecturers.Students had access to a comprehensive library offering over two hundred titles,remotely accessed through a weekly mobile service from Colombo in addition tomodule hand-outs and an introductory package of core text materials. A local tutorwas assigned to each student to provide support in study skills, the development ofessays, and a project dissertation.So, the Diploma was planned to provide students with a pragmatic programme inwhich interplay between theory and practice is highlighted, within the context of arigorous academic curriculum. Students were told that this was not a prescriptivecoursethey would not be told what to do or what is right for particular conflictsituations. Rather, the lecturers and visiting speakers were to provide facts, interpre-tations, and analytic frameworks which students could use, if they wished, both intheir personal and working lives.Selection of students and teaching locationsUnder the British university system, it is not necessary for applicants to a PG Diplomato have an undergraduate degree. This was important for the rationale underpinningthe programme, since it was recognised that many of the potential students would nothave had access to either local or international higher education due to the restrictionsof cost, career paths, and because of living in conflict areas. Careful consideration wastherefore given to candidates work experience as well as their academic ability.Selection was based on oral and written English language comprehension andfluency, aptitude to study at a post-graduate diploma level, motivation, residentialproximity to teaching sites and likely contribution to peace building and conflictreduction through the candidates work or community involvement.Approximately 400 applications were received for just twenty places in each of thetwo teaching locations, Vavuniya and Matara, which are located in outlying districtsthat have, or had experienced, different dimensions of Sri Lankas complex conflict.Vavuniya is a multi-ethnic government controlled town in the north central region ofSri Lanka that lies just south of border with the LTTE controlled areas of the Vanni.It is a militarised area with a large number of internally displaced people, many wholive in IDP camps. Matara is a city located on the south coast of Sri Lanka in an areaDownloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 Peace education in Sri Lanka 117that experienced much violence during the JVP insurrection of 1988/89. The south-ern region is still associated with conflictual politics, religious and ethnic tensions.Diploma lectures were conducted on the premises of UNHCR in Vavuniya and alocal non-governmental organisation, INDECOS, in Matara. Both premises weremade available free of charge by the respective organisations who recognised the valueand benefit of such an educational experience. The Diploma was delivered betweenApril 2003 and April 2004, with each module taught over four consecutive weekendsat each site.Impact assessmentTo what extent has the PG Diploma in Conflict Resolution and Peace Preparednessachieved its stated objectives? The full impact may not be known for some years asgraduates develop in their careers, and hopefully engage in and influence differentaspects of policy and practice in a peace and conflict sensitive manner. Impact assess-ment was an integral aspect of the diploma programmes design from its inceptionencompassing three criteria: quality, performance and impact. Quality: The academic quality of the course as a professional learning experiencecapable of developing the students knowledge, understanding and skills in therequired discipline. Performance: The development or progression of the student over the period of thecourse indicating a conceptual understanding of the material covered. Impact: The direct and indirect influence of the course and the students learningon the external environment such as their workplace, other institutions, and thelocal community.These criteria are interrelated. Effective student performance cannot be achievedwithout the provision of a quality assured programme. Similarly, the basis of astudents capacity to effect some level of external impact will be contingent upon his/her ability to adequately comprehend and apply the learning. The three criteria areevaluated using nine different external, internal and student self assessment instru-ments which combine both quantitative and qualitative indicators: University of Bradford quality assurance: Since the Diploma is validated and awardedby the University it is responsible for ensuring that the quality of the Diploma inSri Lanka adheres to quality requirements and regulations as laid down inUniversity regulations. So, the Diploma and its modules are continually monitoredand evaluated through processes such as the Academic Committee, a CourseApproval and Review Team, and the Annual Monitoring Report (AMR). Thelatter is a key check for the University which ensures that quality assurance andenhancement processes are embedded into operational management. The processof preparing an analytical annual monitoring report enables the Bradford CourseCo-ordinator and the SSA to formally: identify existing strengths and/or difficultieswhich may present challenges; report on changes that have occurred as a result ofDownloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 118 S. Harris and N. Lewermonitoring; report on actions that have been taken during the course of theacademic session under review and prepare an action plan to identify plannedfuture developments Student module and course evaluations: These provide a students perspective on thequality, content and usefulness of the individual modules, the overall course, andthe performance of the lecturers involved. The information is used to provide feed-back to the teaching staff and to identify areas of course content and delivery thatneed to be improved or revised. Student progression: Academic performance is assessed by module essays and aproject dissertation. These demonstrate a students conceptual understanding ofthe material and their ability to critically apply this to a particular problem or issue.It is expected that students will improve their grades as their critical intellectualcapabilities develop during the course. University of Bradford assessment missions: The programmes academic and admin-istrative systems are regularly reviewed by visits from the UoB Co-ordinator andby university validators. Teaching venues are visited and interviews conductedwith the programme managers, lecturers, student supervisors, students and localexternal examiner. Independent quality assessment missions: The British Governments QualityAssurance Agency for Higher Education (QAAHE) conducts assessments ofselected UK university validated courses at home and abroad. The QAAHEmission investigates all aspects of a course and is regarded as the most rigorousindependent assessment of an academic programme. The PG Sri Lanka Diplomawas visited by a QAAHE team in May 2004. In June 2004 an end of year evaluationby the UK Government Global Conflict Prevention Pool Year was carried out. Learning impact assessment: Questionnaires and semi-formal interviews withstudents and a selection of student peers, superiors and subordinates in order tohelp determine the wider impact of an individuals learning. Alumni assessment: Graduates from the course are invited to join an alumni whichis hoped will provide a platform for continued learning, exchange and develop-ment. A follow-up workshop for alumni twelve months after graduation will focuson students self-assessment of institutional impact. External impact indicators: The delivery of this course in a conflict affected and apost-conflict context is a unique and innovative educational experience whoseimpact may extent beyond spheres directly related to current students and gradu-ates of the programme. Through discussions with a wide range of civil societyobservers and an examination of external developments this component aims toaccount for the external impact of the diploma programme.Preliminary evaluationInitial findings for the first year of operation were encouraging. Throughout the yearthe Diploma received support and encouragement from Sri Lankan authorities andorganisations. Students engaged well with the course material, and at the April 2004Downloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 Peace education in Sri Lanka 119Exam Board, of the original 38 students who were enrolled, 20 were awarded theDiploma (five with Merit), three were awarded Certificates, eight were allowed exten-sions or to submit supplementary assessments, six students had withdrawn from theDiploma throughout the year, and one student failed.The award of a Diploma indicates that, amongst other measurements, studentscan deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judge-ments in the absence of complete data, communicate about their subject to others,have achieved a professional competence in tackling and solving problems in theirsubject area, have developed and enhanced decision-making in complex and unpre-dictable situations, and hopefully will want to continue to advance their knowledgeand understanding and to further develop new skills and knowledge to a higherlevel. It is clear from the comments on the module evaluation forms that studentsappreciated the relevance of the material being taught, that the faculty consisted ofsenior and respected Sri Lankan academics and peace practitioners, that the linkwith the University of Bradford was highly valued, and that the course was wellsupported with learning resources. Attendance at lectures remained high through-out the year, with many students sitting in on modules which were not part of theirassessment requirements.Diploma benefitsAlready graduates have experienced promotions, career moves and other educationalopportunities in which their new learning has played a pivotal role. One graduatejoined the Scandinavian led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) which is respon-sible for ensuring that the conditions of ceasefire agreement are observed by bothparties; another is awaiting posting to East Timor as part of a UN police detachment.And, as noted in the Global Conflict Prevention Pool end of year evaluation report,some students have already instituted capacity building of their colleagues in theirwork place by sharing the knowledge gained on the Diploma. For others the realbenefit has come from their deeper understanding and analytic skills that directlyimpact on their work.The participation of military personnel on the course has led to the enrolment offifteen senior army officers on the 20042005 Diploma course in Colombo and thesubsequent establishment of a second course in Conflict Resolution and SecurityStudies which commenced in March 2005. Interest from within the LTTE controlledareas of northern Sri Lanka has also led to the Diploma being taught at Kilinochchi,the administrative seat of the Tamil Tigers, where it is the first external academicprogramme to be conducted since the beginning of the conflict. Sri Lankan facultymembers have also drawn inspiration from the UoB-SSA programme and institutednew peace related courses in their own universities. Some graduates talk of thepersonal changes that the programme has imbued, such as a reconsideration of theirown perspectives and understanding of the conflict, the complex peacebuilding,reconstruction and long-term reconciliation work that is needed, and their potentialpart in this. As the University of Bradford validator noted in his report: Downloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 120 S. Harris and N. LewerWhilst in Vavuniya, I had the opportunity of informally meeting three current students onthe Diploma. All three were highly appreciative of the opportunities offered by theprogramme and stressed its value, especially in respect to its relevance to their dailyoccupationstwo are senior policemen and one is a senior army field commander.Students talked of being more aware of the needs of others and the importance ofthorough conflict analysis and planning that peace related activities require both inthe short and long term. The Diploma has provided an intellectual confidence forstudents who can now participate on a more equal footing in the current debates andprescriptions concerning development and peace in their country and regions. As oneVavuniya student commented: I now know what peace can be and how I can help us get there.Continual tuningOf course, not all has gone perfectly smoothly and the Diploma was being continuallyfine tuned. We are fortunate in having a committed external examiner whose commentsand advice proved extremely helpful. It has become clear that students need continualencouragement to read more deeply in the various subject areas, and to engage criticallyin the intellectual material. Despite a thorough screening process at the interview, italso became apparent that although all students understood the taught course content,English writing skills and level of expression to a Diploma level, were problematic forsome of the students. To help students progress with this, sessions on good essay writingwere introduced, and students advised about advanced English classes. The tutorsystem was strengthened and a closer longitudinal monitoring of student essays putin place. As for similar UK validated and awarded programmes, some students weresurprised at the amount of work required to reach the necessary level.Lessons learned for replicationWhat then, are the lessons learned that other peace educators can draw from thisformal adult peace education initiate in Sri Lanka? Is the model transferable to otherconflict affected countries? How can it contribute towards the development of asustainable peace?De-politicising sensitive subjectsEngaging any level of local stakeholder in meaningful and constructive discussionover the substantive and challenging issues of a divided society is fraught withdifficulties. The barriers of individual and group positions and politics, interests andidentities often conspire against rational argument and informed analysis. Formalpeace education courses have the capacity to overcome this problem by removing thethreatening, politically sensitive elements of talking about peace-building or conflictresolution and replacing them with educational objectives. Whereas local actors mayDownloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 Peace education in Sri Lanka 121be suspicious of third party agendas and fearful for the repercussions of interactionwhen it comes to peace related meetings and workshops, education is often regardedas an accepted, valued and safe medium.Formal education with its end-goal of gaining an internationally recognisedqualification can de-politicise and legitimise debate over otherwise sensitive or evendangerous topics. Under the auspices of education, identities such as military officer,NGO worker, government administrator, rebel or politician are to some extentsubsumed by the label of student, thus enabling safe debate between people holdingdifferent views and requiring careful consideration of the merits and failings ofalternative perspectives.Conflict sensitive course developmentThe conflict sensitivity of our approach was critical in achieving a de-politicisededucational environment. This included academic integrity and independencetogether with local participation and consultation in the planning process, construc-tion of the curriculum, selection of lecturers and choice of teaching locations.Before and during the curriculum design and implementation, considerable timewas spent consulting widely with influential academics, senior political and militaryfigures in Sri Lanka to ensure that the Diploma programme was supported bynational and local buy-in, that it was timely and appropriate to the needs of our iden-tified student constituency, yet sensitive to the broader context in which they worked.Conducting a formal course in a conflict-affected region also requires sensitivity tothe needs of the students in terms of flexibility. In situations of instability and violencethe best plans can unravel. For example, students may find it difficult to travel toteaching locations at times, communications can break down, lecturers and studentsmay be re-located to other regions. This means that a greater degree of flexibility andinterpretation of what can sometimes appear as rigid regulations and processes, basedon stable Western educational institutions, must be capable of adapting to a changinglocal security environment.Maintaining academic integrity and independence was also central to the conflictsensitive development of the course. Whilst some may argue that peace education isa political activity, we worked hard to insist on the academic integrity and objectivityof our curriculum and faculty. We were clear that the Diploma was not intended toprovide a forum for the promotion of particular views or solutions to the conflict.Whilst some sessions did inevitably focus on events in the country, it was made clearthat our purpose was to provide a broader educational experience, learning from theconcepts, theories and ideas from which the field of conflict resolution developed, andas it was practised both locally and internationally.Building local capacityFormal peace education programmes of this nature have the potential to build localcapacities at a number of levels. The very process of negotiating a space in which aDownloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 122 S. Harris and N. Lewercourse can take place is a considerable step in itself, leading to what could bedescribed as a de facto acceptance of the subjects importance by the local authoritiesor conflicting parties. Similarly, locating course teaching in an area affected byconflict coveys a pro-peace image with potential spin-offs in the form of joint lecturesand exchange programmes integrating students from different social and ethnic back-grounds, or religious and political affiliations.Local academic capacity can also be enhanced with indigenous lecturers workingin collaboration with international colleagues and experiencing first hand thechallenges curriculum development and of teaching peace related subjects in aconflict-affected environment. The longer-term impact of this may include the devel-opment of peace related courses by local universities in national language mediums.For students themselves capacities are enhanced through increased knowledge,skills and confidence in peace related theory and practice that can inform their contri-bution to their communities as well as help promote the development of their careers.This can pay significant dividends when the students themselves comprise of criticalchange agents and future leaders in the peace process.ConclusionAt the beginning of this paper we stated that our starting point for developing thecourse was the assumption that peace education enhances the construction of apeaceful society. We would argue that even in conflict or post-conflict situations,when there are so many other demands on scarce resources, peace educationprogrammes of this nature are important. They give local authorities, in the name ofeducation, the possibility to legitimise the discourse of peace, or at least experimentwith the subject without overtly political implications. It provides participants with atangible and valued outcome in the form of a qualification (which in many contextsmay in itself be a rare opportunity). Finally, it builds peace-building capacity by offer-ing people the necessary learning with which to analyse and think about the causes,management, resolution and transformation of violent conflict in a de-politicised, safeand educationally rewarding environment.Notes on contributorsSimon Harris has been working with emergency, development and peace-relatedprogrammes in Sri Lanka since 1992. Formerly country manager for Oxfam GBand Cordaid, he is the co-founder and director of the Peace Studies Programmeat the Social Scientists Association in Colombo, and is currently coordinatingChristian Aids Sri Lanka tsunami response.Nick Lewer is a Senior Lecturer, and Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution,Department of Peace Studies, at the University of Bradford, UK. He has a PhDin Conflict Mediation and specialises in applied conflict resolution and peace-building in situations of violence. This has involved work in Sri Lanka, Nepal,the Balkans, Indonesia, and West Africa.Downloaded by [University of Kiel] at 11:28 25 October 2014 Peace education in Sri Lanka 123ReferencesAlfred, M. & Hennessy, C. (2003) A guide on problem solving. Workshop activities for 1016 year olds(Colombo Sri Lanka, AHIMSA).Anderson, M. B. (1999) Do no harm. How aid can support peaceor war (Boulder, CO, LynneReinner).Balasingham, A. (2004) War and peace. 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