Is it true that more schooling can promote peaceful behavior and reduce civil conflict and other forms of politically-motivated group violence? Recent evidence of above-average levels of education among genocide perpetrators and terrorists such as those who carried out the 9/11 attacks, has challenged the consensus among scholars that education has a general pacifying effect.
In a new study, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic. For their analysis, Gudrun Østby, Henrik Urdal, and Kendra Dupuy of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) reviewed the last 20 years' worth of statistical studies-42 published between 1996 and 2016-on the relationship between education and political violence.
The researchers note that while the expansion of postsecondary education has been voiced as a concern-particularly as it relates to recruiting terrorists and promoting low-level protests-the evidence suggests there is little reason that governments should be cautious about rapidly expanding access to education.
"Although some evidence suggests that terrorists are often well educated and rarely marginalised, this does not imply that providing education in areas prone to terror will lead to more terrorist violence," said Urdal, director of PRIO. Overall, the researchers found that the lack of male education appears to be the strongest predictor of conflict. Higher levels of gender parity in educational outcomes are also associated with less violence.
The researchers note that there is very limited research available on the effects of religious versus secular education, including research on the possible links between curricula and violence. "We were surprised that there was no evidence on the effect of educational content or quality on the risk of political violence," said Østby. "The lack of such data warrants more attention from future research."
(With ANI Inputs)