Explaining the Failure of Education as a Vehicle for Peaceful Transformation—And Why is the Myth Perpetuated?

  • Clive HarberEmail author


This chapter does two things. First, it sets out to explain why schools are so difficult to transform in post-conflict, developing societies including the deep-rooted authoritarian nature of schooling; resource and other contextual difficulties; the multiplicity of (sometimes conflicting) voices and agendas; short-termism; unsuitable staffing; double standards, contradictions and distrust of motives (of and among international agencies). Secondly, it asks why and how the myth of school transformation is perpetuated despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Two main reasons are put forward and discussed. One is the need for funding—is an over-optimistic account of the possibility change perpetuated because to be realistic would reduce funding opportunities for international bodies, NGOs and academics? Is it also because dominant ideas, even if unsupported by evidence, are maintained globally by the international influence of organisations like UNESCO and not challenged inside them, despite reservations, because of fears of what will happen to careers and resource allocation? The chapter concludes the book by arguing that if formal schooling cannot be transformed or even reformed, then it is better to be more realistically optimistic about what can actually be achieved rather than making overly optimistic claims about what might, could or should be achieved.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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