PCF5:Human rights and conflict prevention

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Title of session

... Human rights and conflict prevention ...

Session details

  • Date: ... Tuesday 15th July 2008...
  • Time: ... 11.00am- 15.30pm ...
  • Room: ... 822 ...

Session papers

  • Dr Patrick Kilby, So, what happened in Kabul today? Flexible learning in conflict and social justice programmes at the Australian National University.
  • Stella Chege, Strengthening the capacity of African civil society organisations through distance learning training.
  • Dr Kallie de Beer, Community open distance and e- Learning with open education resource approaches to peacekeeping and post-conflict challenges in Africa.
  • Miss Beatrix Shcmelzle, Disseminating knowledge from the world around the world: The Berghof handbook for conflict transformation

Key issues that arose in the session to be taken forward to theme and president reports and their relationship to the core theme of access to learning for development:

  • 1. Good well maintained websites are crucial for distance e- Learning.
  • 2. Participant implementation of a course is more useful when linked to an Institutional strategy. This means Institutional buy in.
  • 3. Distance education can and should be interlinked between the Commonwealth Institutions.
  • 4. ODL content needs to address what is considered as untouchable political content such as “ethno stress” as a cause of conflict. It is difficult to draw the line on what would be politically in conflict, governance and social justice issues and in most cases like in Kenya and South Africa failure to teach students about ethnicity results in conflict.
  • 5. ODL is a magnificent tool to address issues of lost generations such as the Child soldiers in Sierra Leone who have missed out on a school based education
  • 6. ODL as a learning method must accommodate changes in culture which might not be obvious given the spaces between the learners and the tutors. Considering that many learners meet at the ODL table from all over the world, it must be recognised that ODL provides opportunities to compare notes on culture issues that contribute to conflict and governance issues.
  • 7. Impact assessment is huge business in the teaching and ODL world. There are lots of manuals on impact assessment and donors have checklists on impact assessment. Yet impact is difficult to assess because it is about adding and creating values. There is underlying tension of what is within our power to achieve as educators. How do we assess impact? How do we evaluate ways in which a particular course affects the participants? Do numbers of handbooks created or participants trained really speak for themselves? Since the decision to use the resources (E.g. handbooks) lies in someone else’s hands how then do we assess impact? Are we too dependent on the log frame method as a tool of impact assessment? In conclusion, the group agreed that tiny steps lead to others in assessing impact. Sometimes impact happens many years later. And sometimes it is not visible – for instance a course on conflict prevention only has a visible impact if the conflict is prevented and therefore there is nothing to assess. However the ability for participants to learn how to challenge ideas and authority constructively was identified as a crucial key in regards to impact.
  • 8. Can an ODL course be adapted across borders? The case study approach is a good way of adaptability but it must be contextual. Adaptability should also be demand driven as no two conflicts are similar yet there are useful lessons to be learnt from comparative experience. ODL participants are usually separated by borders, languages and sometimes conflict. Therefore in some cases making of reference to a generic case may not be useful. Research needs to be done on common trends in pedagogy however.
  • 9.How do we create flexibility in our ODL so that we are not contributing to create despots? How do we ensure that tyrants are not using what we are teaching on conflict transformation to protect themselves? Questions that we must keep asking on ODL include; are we just making money from conflict, governance and social justice as trainers and educators? Is it just about making careers out of ODL in conflict, governance and social justice issues?

Points for future action (Policy, recommendations, commitments etc.)

  • 1. ODL needs to address gender and social inclusion as beliefs which are creating inequities and injustices in conflict situations. These issues require in-depth research to create a sound ODL training module.
  • 2. Setting standards – ODL needs a qualification framework to determine standards. For instance how do we set standards that bring on board people not traditionally seen to be knowledgeable e.g. the illiterate elders in the village who are conversant in local ways of governance, conflict prevention or resolution? How do we ensure quality assurance on ODL? A good place to start would be a peer process of tutors and participants. The success of the implementation structure of course content and an accreditation process would be useful as well.
  • 3. Research on the role of distant education within the framework of the right to education needs to be carried out. How do we marry the concepts of the right to education in ODL?