The aim of this report is to provide practitioners and policy-makers in both transitional justice and education with conceptual clarity and practical guidance for developing synergies between their respective fields in responding to past human rights violations. Drawing from a comparative approach that examines different experiences throughout the world, this report does not offer a blueprint for addressing past injustices through education, but, rather, considerations that should be taken into account when framing policy that is based on the particularities of a given context.

The report looks at how a transitional justice framework can play an important role in identifying educational deficits related to the logic of past conflict and repression and informing the reconstruction of the education sector. It also looks at how formal and informal education can facilitate and sustain the work of transitional justice measures.

Section I, which sets out the report’s framework, offers a discussion of what it means to consider transitional justice and education as separate but related elements of societal responses to injustices associated with massive human rights violations, and the contribution that synergies between the two fields can make to establish sustainable peace and prevent the recurrence of abuses. This section, thus, poses the question of what a transitional justice approach brings to the role of education in peacebuilding.

Section II maps out the different components of education reconstruction in which a transitional justice framework can be expected to make a difference. This includes incorporating lessons from transitional justice processes into educational curricula; increasing access to education through reparations or redress measures; and shaping school culture and governance, pedagogy, teaching tools, and teacher capacity and training.

The next three sections consider a range of political and material challenges that actors are likely to face in trying to link transitional justice and education and discuss some strategic considerations for implementing proposed ideas more effectively and sustainably.

Section III highlights the different actors that can play a role in linking transitional justice and education, including transitional justice bodies, civil society groups, school communities, and government, each of which can be an agent of change or an obstacle.

Section IV examines the more capacity and resource-based constraints that efforts to address the past through education are likely to face.

Section V emphasises the importance of identifying opportunities for change while maintaining realistic expectations for the change that can be achieved.

Section VI distills the findings to a set of guidance points for relevant actors. However, in offering guidance about the kind of change being proposed and potential steps, it is important to remember that policies aimed at addressing past injustice through education are very likely to be contested. The specific context will influence the level of this contestation as well as the usefulness of any recommendations, and so contextual analysis will be a critical first step. The guidance offered here must be considered with regard to each unique context. It cannot be assumed, for example, that all communities will desire full integration of schools or support incorporating a justice agenda into classroom learning. Some types of opposition to such eff orts, we argue, should be challenged, but some may be legitimate and / or unlikely to be overcome. These kinds of tensions between the principles of justice being advocated and the reality in which measures based on those principles may be proposed, designed, and implemented must be kept in mind. That said, the research conducted for this project suggests that a context specific approach to addressing the past through education can make a valuable contribution to peacebuilding.

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Clara Ramírez-Barat and Roger Duthie
International Center for Transitional Justice and UNICEF
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