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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T00469X/1
Title: Building Cultures of Peace in Rwanda Schools - An inter-disciplinary network of research, policy and practice
Principal Investigator: NZAHABWANAYO, Dr SS
Other Investigators:
Rushworth, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: College of Education
Organisation: University of Rwanda
Scheme: UKRI
Starts: 20 September 2019 Ends: 19 September 2021 Value (£): 151,827
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No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Mar 2019 GCRF GE Networks Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The impetus for this research network derives from the premise that children and youth cannot learn the skills and values of peace, in a context of violence. This context includes perspectives often missing from academic research and scholarship on post-genocide education, such as: the 'everyday' physical violence young Rwandans experience in their homes, communities and schools, often in the form of corporal punishment; the symbolic violence and social embarrassment they experience and/or reproduce through various forms of stigma related to poverty, narrowly prescribed gender and sex roles, and ongoing ethnic tensions, stereotypes and divisions; and the structural violence, experienced in schools through educational inequality, constant competition, testing, ranking, and severe consequences for failure; as well as children and young people's sense of experiencing injustices, not being listened to and having unmet emotional and psychological needs.

Thus, there is a need to open-up and interrogate our understanding of 'education for prevention'; to look beyond simply the content and methodologies for teaching and learning about identity and citizenship, to the environment or context in which children and young people learn, mature and develop their identities and relationships with others.

This calls for an interdisciplinary network of researchers, whose individual work may be focussed on only one aspect of childhood or schooling and from only one disciplinary perspective, to learn from and build upon one another's work, towards producing a holistic framework for defining and evaluating cultures of peace in Rwandan schools. This would include topics such as curriculum and pedagogy, but also positive discipline; pastoral care and child protection; gender; inclusion, the role of the arts and humanities in developing critical thinking skills; the school's engagement with parents and the community; methods for including children and young people's voices in school governance; and extra-curricular learning. Such themes could be looked at from the disciplines of education studies, child and educational psychology, sociology, and leadership and management studies and by researchers who use quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods.

While these topics are well-explored in western contexts, the dominant paradigms shaping schooling practices in Rwanda are very different and require the development of new approaches based on local understandings and concepts. For this reason, while the network would include contributions from international scholars, it is to be Rwandan-led; underscoring the need for a network such as this, to enhance local capacity for research and dissemination of knowledge.

In facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing - between researchers in the global north and south; between researchers, practitioners and policy-makers; and between different academic disciplines - the network will strengthen individual and collective capacity to address the education, health and peace and security challenges.

The network will address these various themes through five 'working groups', each of which would include researchers from Rwanda, the UK and elsewhere, as well as representatives from ministries and local government, local civil society organisations, international NGOs and any other interested stakeholders. Each of the five groups will focus on one of the following: 1) aspects of child mental health/wellbeing, personal and social development; 2) the use of cultural arts, literature and humanities to foster self-expression, respect and critical thinking; 3) issues of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and teacher training; 4) aspects of school governance, including engagement with parents and the wider-community, and youth voice; 5) inclusion (including disabilities) and gender.

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