Youth and Education: A Global Response to a Global Challenge

Youth and Education: A Global Response to a Global Challenge

Youth and Education: A Global Response to a Global Challenge

Commentary

5 min read

Posted on: 12th November 2019

A shared challenge requires a shared response. As we look ahead to 2019 and beyond, the international community must come together and create effective, innovative and ambitious national action plans to tackle the challenge of violent extremism.

Tragic events across the world have meant that our collective efforts are more relevant than ever. Together we need to increase the understanding of the causes of violent extremism and promote good practice in approaches that tackle it. We need to address the gaps in skills and knowledge that impede progress in major hot spots and areas where new threats are emerging. We need to create partnerships with local, national and international actors, designing innovative programmes that seek to draw individuals and communities away from violent extremism.

Given the importance of this issue in our societies, particularly in relation to young people and education, what are the obstacles stopping us from implementing these national action plans?

The main challenge is providing evidence that they work. It is difficult to measure how a programme or policy aimed at countering violent extremism (CVE) actually contributes to reducing violent extremism on the ground. It is difficult to measure something that has not happened as a result of a policy or progamme. However, there are some ways in which CVE programmes can be measured, in terms of building resilience to violent extremism among students. For example, changes in a student’s attitude towards another person, culture or religion can be measured. So can a change in a value, such as respect for the rule of law, human rights or gender differences. It is also possible to observe changes in students’ behaviour, such as how they relate to or communicate with others.

So, for all CVE programmes, it is important to articulate a clear theory of change that explains how the programme will contribute to reducing violent extremism and outlines the underlying assumptions that relate to that logical flow. Regularly monitoring the CVE programme can also help tailor it to fit the needs of the local community. Good monitoring can highlight areas where an intervention might not be abiding by the “do no harm” principle. Evaluation of a programme can help shape it to ensure the next round is more effective than the last.

Tragic events across the world have meant that our collective efforts are more relevant than ever.

There are a number of different ways the education sector can help to prevent violent extremism among young people. For example, teachers can be significant figures in their lives. They can help to shape and mould the attitudes, values and behaviours of their students and play a significant role in building students that are resilient to many negative influences, including violent extremism. Teachers can also identify early warning signs of radicalisation. However, they should only be trained to do so if there is an appropriate and clear method of intervention, by the teacher themselves or through a trained psychologist, sociologist or police officer.

It is important to recognise the role that a Ministry of Education can play. This role can depend on whether the ministry sets the actual curriculum taught in schools.

Where this is the case, the role of the education ministry should be to ensure that resilience-building measures are embedded in that curriculum. However, where it is the case that the ministry sets education standards, but does not draft the curriculum, it is important there are appropriate resources and tools for educators to help them embed these resilience-building  measures  in their classrooms.

In order to build resilience in the classroom against violent extremism, teachers need the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities of language related to violent extremism.

Based on all of this, it is vital to anticipate the future direction of youth and education CVE programmes.

Education can be a key factor in the reduction of violent extremism amongst students if a holistic approach is taken. This requires the recognition of the importance of curriculum design and development, of teachers as the key deliverers of education and of class dynamics and school environments as incubators of desired behaviors. It also requires an educational process that promotes universal values such as tolerance, coexistence, and mutual understanding and openness to others and their experiences in terms of their diversity - ethnically, culturally and otherwise.

More focused attention needs to be paid to the teacher trainer and teacher level. In order to build resilience in the classroom against violent extremism, teachers need the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities of language related to violent extremism. They need to understand theories of radicalisation and be equipped with teaching methods and activities than can help combat it. This will require ongoing support by the schooling system and educational leadership

Now more than ever, nations need to work in close partnership to initiate dialogue, develop policies, launch programmes, drive rigorous research, conduct training and develop capacity.

There is a recognition of the feasibility and opportunities offered through the assessment, measurement and evaluation of educational programmes aimed at the prevention and countering of violent extremism. Such assessments are based on behavioural indicators and cultural manifestations that are observable, classifiable and measurable. Therefore, it is not a question of “Can we assess?”, rather it is a question “How do we assess?” and more importantly “What are we assessing?”

The assessment process of these targeted educational programmes relies on the involvement of local, national and international actors. Thus, there is a need for a full-scale assessment at the global and local levels that will allow for rigour, clarity and depth. This will require coordinated efforts and ongoing collaboration at the highest levels and in between the different layers of the educational hierarchy.

The engagement of international organisations in national action plans is also important, but needs to  be coordinated and strategic. Action should depend on the local context and environment. Some countries already have strong education and CVE programmes, so the role of international organisations should be to coordinate on collating and sharing good practices and lessons learned from those programmes. Other countries may need more direct assistance to develop effective plans. Some countries may require support in the direct training of teachers on the subject of CVE at school or community level.

Now more than ever, nations need to work in close partnership to initiate dialogue, develop policies, launch programmes, drive rigorous research, conduct training and develop capacity. In this way we will develop and implement national action plans to combat violent extremism, with young people and education as the primary focus and top priority.

Protection Is Not Enough: We Must Prevent Extremism

Education

Find out more
institute.global

Join us

Be the first to know what we’re doing – and how you can get more involved.