Youth, Education and Conflict

    Project: Research

    Project Details


    Armed conflict that is still increasing in Nepal has a heavy impact on institutions, the political life, the economy, cultural and social practices and everyday life of the Nepalese people. During the fieldwork in Panga we would gather information from students and young people in the community who have left homes and schools to join the Maoists or the government forces.  We would also acquire information from those who are abducted by the Maoists or taken as prisoners by the government soldiers, and those who are subjected to torture. Further, Maoists in Kathmandu Valley and in the districts will be interviewed about their education policy, their visions and strategies - especially focusing on the ideas of "People's Education."
    From the earlier study, a very serious culmination was the suicide that was committed by a 17-year-old boy, a student at grade 10 who was just about to take the final exams (Madsen, 04 b).  The boy was accused of having sympathy and inclination towards the Maoists.  He was subjected to torture as he denied giving information about political activities in the community.  He had to remain in army custody. He was later released, but just for a short while.  At this very moment, one day the boy took his life on his way home from the school. Not surprisingly, the story has had an enormous impact on the inhabitants and everyday life in Panga, especially the young people of the same age and teachers in the school.
    Children and young people all over Nepal have been killed, injured, tortured and many others grow up in fear and tension. Nepalese youths today find themselves caught up in a complex conflict situation that is gradually changing their life, social relations, family structure, beliefs and visions that hitherto have provided a frame for orientations.
    Taking a point of departure from case of Panga I will investigate the relation between education and political conflict.  More specifically, the study will raise the following questions:  How do educated young people act in and perceive the political conflict, and how do they plan their future? How does the education sector in general and the different agents in schooling in particular - leadership, teachers, school board members, students respond to the political conflict?  How do family-issues and schooling affect young people's perceptions of the conflict? A large number of teachers have been killed in the armed conflicts and many teachers have resigned in fear. Thus, the study investigates how the conflict affects teachers, their everyday life and professional identity and commitment. The gender-aspect of students and teachers in conflict will also be examined (Maslak 2003).
    In recent months, efforts have been made by the civil society and human rights organisations in the throughout the country to declare schools as conflict-free zones.  The government of Nepal is calling on the Maoists to declare the schools as peace zones.  In this connection, the deputy-head of the school has established a local group for human rights in order to provide protection to the students in the school who are at the risk of being involved in the conflict or who have already been kept in custody or just disappeared. As a result of the initiatives and efforts of this local human rights organisation a number of young people and parents have been released.
    Building on experiences from ethnographic studies on youth and schooling, I see school as an ambiguous project comprising dual and contradictory promises and practices (Madsen 03, 04c).    Hence, the study further investigates the hypothesis that schools as institutions can be seen as protected from political conflicts but at the same time they are subjected to political activities.  Focusing on how young students in grade 10 in Panga use their participation in school to negotiate their role as young citizens in a situation of armed conflict, the study provides insights in the relations and dynamics between youth, schooling and conflict.
    Effective start/end date01/02/200501/02/2007


    • Forskningsprogram: €27.00


    • Youth, conflict, education