Conflict-sensitive Approaches to Education

Develop, adopt and promote ‘conflict-sensitive’ approaches to education in international humanitarian and development programs, and at a national level where relevant

Education policies and programs that increase social cohesion can contribute to building peace, reducing the likelihood of attacks on education and military use of schools in the future. Unequal access to education can cause tension between groups, and between citizens and the state. Conflict-sensitive education programs and policies take note of problems related to language of instruction, bias in access, staff recruitment and deployment, and curriculum content. They include curriculum materials and approaches that promote safety, resilience, and social cohesion, thus promoting equal access to relevant, quality education for all identity groups.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of recommended actions to be undertaken by governments, in particular the Ministry of Education, and civil society and international organizations, to implement the commitments on conflict-sensitive education.


Ensure that education promotes peace instead of triggering conflict, including by addressing gender-based stereotypes and barriers that can trigger, exacerbate, and follow attacks on education;

Conduct an assessment to identify key underlying causes (e.g. root causes) of conflicts as the basis to inform education programming that aim to reduce the risk of future conflict;

Monitor and evaluate education activities and their impact on and interaction with the environment to ensure they are avoiding unintended consequences;

Ensure equitable and transparent community participation which represents the diversity (ethnic, religious, disability, sex, age, or political) in the analysis, planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of education programs and policies.

Civil Society and International Organizations

Advocate for the inclusion of conflict-sensitive education in humanitarian responses, and work with the government to establish and/or scale up training programs for students and teachers to teach conflict-resolution skills.


African Union: The African Union Commission has developed a comprehensive ten-year Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) with twelve strategic objectives. Specific Objective 10 relates to conflict-sensitive education, and specifically seeks to promote peace education and conflict prevention and resolution at all levels of education and for all age groups. This includes the formulate of national policies for peace education grounded in African values and mechanisms of conflict prevention and resolution; training teachers, social workers, security forces, and others as peace actors and mediators; developing and disseminating teaching and learning materials on peace education and organizing training sessions; and capitalizing on ongoing innovative peace building experiences in various African countries and networks, and disseminating lessons learned.

South Sudan: In 2014, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, supported by the Government of the Netherlands and UNICEF, hosted a national conference on the theme of learning spaces as zones of peace for 150 stakeholders from all over South Sudan. A result of the conference was agreed upon minimum standards for learning spaces and the signing of the Learning Spaces as Zones of Peace Communiqué. By signing the Communiqué, the MoEST committed to addressing the root causes of violence, protecting learners, and promoting peaceful conflict resolution. Life skills and peacebuilding subjects have been piloted in 48 centers and will be integrated into the national curriculum.

Mali: The Ministry of Education has created a girls' education division and included protection against gender-based violence as a topic in the national curriculum. The Ministry also disaggregates data by gender in their national information system.

Nigeria: In May 2019, the Ministry of Education organized a workshop to discuss gender and the Safe Schools Declaration, and has since incorporated a gender component into the draft national education in emergencies curriculum.

International Organizations: 

  • In 2018, 'Learning for Peace,' a global education and advocacy initiative, published a compendium of good practices on conflict-sensitive and peace education practices between 2012 and 2016.
  • In 2019, the Education in Crisis and Conflict Network published a list of 46 conflict-sensitive education indicators with definitions, measurement tools, and suggested disaggregation.