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Symposium: Social reconstruction in countries of conflict

The Inter-American Development Bank on Nov. 18-20 will be the host of the first inter-regional symposium on the use of education and education reform to help achieve social reconstruction and advancement of youth and children in countries that suffered from armed conflict.

The forum will bring together specialists from Asia and Latin America who will present studies and evaluations based on social reconstruction experiences in Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Laos, Peru, The Philippines and Vietnam.

The Inter-regional Symposium on the Future of Children and Youth in Countries with Conflicts: Education and Social Reconstruction in Latin America and Asia will identify best practices, lessons learned and policy implications of past experiences. An Action Plan will be drafted for future inter-regional activities and recommendations will be drawn up for international organizations.

The Japan Program of the IDB and The RISE Institute of the United States and Colombia jointly coordinated the preparation of ten case studies on exemplary policies and programs for education reform, basic education, youth and ex-combatant training and bilingual education.  They reveal innovative ways to meet the learning needs of children and youth, both during and after conflicts.  Children are disproportionately victimized by conflicts and the loss of educational opportunities.  In several of the countries included in the symposium entire generations were “lost” in terms of education development.  The majority of unschooled children in the world are living in nations with conflicts.  Without positive education experiences, traumatized children and youth often contribute to the continuation of violence. 

Examples of education programs for effective nation building include:

  • Colombia: Girls, boys and parents living in violence zones continue their education through attending virtual learning centers.
  • El Salvador: During and after the civil conflict, citizens participated in a national education reform and ex-military and guerrilla fighters received skills training together leading to peaceful relations in former guerilla strongholds.
  • Guatemala and Cambodia: Ethnic minority children and youth receive their first education through new bilingual programs that build national unity and service access.
  • Indonesia and The Philippines: Young children formerly abandoned in camps and towns in violence zones receive quality education opportunities and overcome trauma.
  • Lao PDR and Vietnam: Villages without schools now have teachers from their communities thanks to innovative multigrade and rural teacher training programs.
  • Peru: Community trainers achieve trauma healing, democracy and human rights.

The challenges of nation building during and after violent conflicts currently are the subject of intense international debate.  Some allege that little is known about how to carry out successful reforms and programs that will prevent further violence, lessen harm to children, and achieve long-term progress.  However, results from studies in nine nations of Asia and Latin America suffering from conflicts or engaged in post-conflict nation building, demonstrate that effective education and training programs are feasible and essential for successful nation building.

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