Today we talk about education and conflict in Burma. My guest is Rosalie Metro, an Assistant Teaching Professor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia. As an anthropologist of education, she is interested in the conflicts that arise around history, identity, and language in the classroom. Her latest commentary in the Compare Forum argues that we need to consider the Thrid Face of Education

Rose has been researching Burma/Myanmar for the past two decades. She is the author of Histories of Burma: A Source-Based Approach to Teaching Myanmar’s History (Mote Oo, 2013), and Teaching US History Thematically: Document-Based Lessons for the Secondary Classroom (Teachers College Press, 2017). Her world history textbook will be published by Teachers College Press later this year.



Some thirty-five percent of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected areas. These emergency situations include both human conflicts, such as, war and natural disasters, such as earthquakes. These children are in desperate need of help. Yet before anyone can act, information is critical. Information and data on education in emergencies is, however, inadequate in most cases.

My guest today is  Mary Mendenhall, an Associate Professor of Practice and the Director of the International and Comparative Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a member of the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies’ (INEE) Standards and Practice Working Group and has edited a new NORRAG special issue on data collection and evidence building to support education in emergencies.

Citation: Mendenhall, Mary, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 158, podcast audio, June 10, 2019.

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Can education be used to create peace? Can it help mend long standing issues in conflict afflicted regions? These questions don’t have easy answers, but we’ll jump into the debates surrounding them feet first.

My guests today, Mieke Lopes Cardozo and Ritesh Shah, have been studying education, social transformations, and peacebuilding for the past decade and have worked and written together since 2011. They find that education has the capacity for both positive and negative outcomes. Education can certainly help resolve conflict by creating community and giving voice to under-represented groups in society. However, education can also be used as tool by ruling elites as a way to maintain their grip on power, which may sow further divisions in society.

Think of it this way: imagine if a ruling party in a country decides to censor content from history textbooks that may question its power. Would that really create the conditions under which peace is possible? Or imagine if minority groups are purposefully excluded from school-based decisions. How can peace be sustainable if the structures of education systematically exclude certain people? These issues are not strange or reserved for “poor” or “developing” countries. In fact, the politics of education happens in every country.

With me to talk about peacebuilding and education are Mieke Lopes Cardozo and Ritesh Shah. Mieke is assistant professor in International Development Studies at the Institute of Social Science Research at the University of Amsterdam, and Ritesh is a Senior Lecturer of Comparative and International Education at the University of Auckland.