In recent years, the number of indices designed to help policymakers monitor conflict situations, and the risk of conflict, has multiplied. These include Brookings’ Index of State Weakness in the Developing World, the Center for Systemic Peace’s State Fragility Index, the Fund for Peace’s Failed States Index, and Vision for Humanity’s Global Peace Index, among others. While each of these indices measure slightly different risk factors for conflict and dimensions of state performance, all are intended to help policymakers design more effective policy interventions in, and policy strategies toward, countries that are at risk of or recently emerging from conflict. Most include one or more sector-specific indicators focusing on state performance in the area of education. The question of education’s role in and after conflict has also gained attention, evidenced by a new global Working Group on Education and Fragility and the selection of violent conflict and education as the theme of UNESCO’s 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. If not properly structured or organized, education can contribute social exclusion and marginalization that fuel conflict, just as easily as it can promote social inclusion and mitigate conflict.
On November 18, the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings convened a meeting to bring together scholars and practitioners who specialize in education policy in contexts of conflict, and members of the academic and policy communities concerned with measuring conflict risk and political stability. The meeting was co-hosted by Fellows Corinne Graff and Rebecca Winthrop. Winthrop, co-director of CUE, opened the discussion by introducing several themes to guide the discussion. What is the best way to conceptualize the relationship between education and conflict? How do we measure education performance in conflict situations? What are the greatest challenges in attempting to quantify the impact of education on conflict and vice versa?